Retired State Police Trooper Terry Whitley dies at age 80

Alec Tyrrell Whitley, died Sunday, May 15, at Green Acres Assisted Living Facility in Wayland after a long struggle with cancer.

Terry was born Oct. 4, 1941, in Frankfort, to Helen Tyrrell Whitley and Dr. Alec Whitley and was raised in St. Clair Shores. He lived 80 years of a life which he described as “the best possible one God could have given him.”

Terry attended Culver Military Academy, Olivet College, and Grand Valley State University, all preparing him for his 26-year career in law enforcement with the Michigan State Police and then independent private investigation.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969. He met Nancy Lynne Reed in Washington, D.C., in 1968 where he was based at Fort Meade, Md. They married Jan. 25, 1969, and made their home in Monroe, MI and then Wayland, were where they raised their two sons, John and Aaron.

Family, work, and service to others were the focus of Terry’s life. His boys were his pride and joy. He coached their Little League teams, supported their many sports and school activities, and left them with the knowledge that humility and kindness to everyone was the basis for a successful man and father.

Terry was a founding member of the Wayland Kiwanis, delivered meals for Meals on Wheels in Lee County, Fla., and drove for Patient Transport of Barry County. He was an active member of the United Church of Wayland, joining in its community service programs and providing leadership. He volunteered for Wings of Hope Hospice and Hospice of Greater Grand Rapids.

After retirement Terry and Nancy discovered a love of traveling by motor home and took up residence in it for five years when they traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada. Their motto was, “each day is a new adventure,” regardless if good or bad. During that time, they helped build many homes for Habitat for Humanity through the RV Care-A-Vanners program, where they built lifelong friendships and learned the value of giving a hand up.

Terry is survived by his wife of 53 years, Nancy; son, John (Karilynn) Whitley and grandchildren Cory (Megan) Short, Andrew (Brenna) Whitley, Noah Ellis, Autumn Whitley, Mary Whitley, Sydney Ellis, Nathan Whitley, Jonah Ellis, and Julius Whitley; son, Aaron (Michele) Whitley, grandchildren Auston Whitley and Madalyn Whitley, and great-grandchild, Bowen Alec Short; sister, Mary Lynne Holder; along with many treasured nieces and nephews. Two special dogs, Harley and Lexi, gave him much pleasure as well.

A celebration of Terry’s life will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 28, at the United Church of Wayland, 411 E. Superior St. A luncheon will follow the service.

Donations may be made to the United Church of Wayland or Wings of Hope Hospice, 530 Linn Street, Allegan, MI 49010. 


  • Terry was what friends back in NJ would have called a mensch – a true human being in the very best way possible. Humble; kind; generous of time, hands, and spirit; and loving. The world is more empty and wanting without him.

  • Condolences to Terry’s family and friends. What a life of service to the state and others. He will be missed.

  • Our heart felt condolences go out to Nancy and the rest of the family. Terry was the a fine example of what a man should be. RIP Terry.

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