Jerry D. Whatley

Jerry D. Whatley, age 76, passed away peacefully on August 23, 2013, at Serenity House with his daughter by his side. Jerry was born in Midland, Arkansas to the late Tomas A. Whatley and Edna (Peters) Whatley. He graduated from Fresno High School, and served in the Army in Korea before marrying in 1958 and attending CSU Fresno. He graduated with a BA in political science, and earned a JD at USC before moving to Santa Barbara in 1966 with his wife and two young daughters. Jerry was a prominent criminal defense attorney, the "great American trial lawyer" (GATL), and he lived life to the fullest. In the later years Jerry worked as court appointed appellate defense counsel. Jerry is survived by his ex-wife and lifelong companion Bonita Whatley of Santa Barbara, brothers Thomas A. Whatley Jr. of Northridge, and Robert A. Ressl of Arlington TX, daughter Sylvia Whatley Beckham (John) of Ojai, son John Peters Whatley of Stanton, and four grandchildren: Spencer, Jeremy, and Abigail Fenczik, and Jefferson Beckham. Jerry was preceded in death by daughter Gail Jeanette Fenczik. No services are planned at this time. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Serenity House or Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.

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In 1970 some stupid junkie stole my only guitar that I needed to play at the then Sportsman’s Bar. The cops busted the junkie but told me the guitar was going to be held as evidence. At the suggestion of a friend I went to see Mr. Whatley. He listened to my story and made a couple of phone calls while I was in his office. After some heated arguing with the Detectives, Mr. Whatley told me where I could go to pick up my guitar.
The cost? Zero.

Thanks again, Mr. Whatley.

edukder (anonymous profile)
August 27, 2013 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I met Jerry Whatley back in the late 60s when I we hired him as my lawyer. He was a great guy and did an excellent job defending me. He invited my dad and me to his beautiful new house in Montecito. His wife cooked the best roast that I had ever eaten. I remember his son riding around on a tricycle in their living room. R.I.P. Jerry

wgweller (anonymous profile)
November 30, 2013 at 12:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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