- John redirects here. For other uses see John (disambiguation).
Minister John Avery Whittaker, known to most of his friends as Whit, is the main fictional character of Adventures in Odyssey and the namesake of Odyssey's most famous attraction, Whit's End. Whit invents machines and runs the Whit's End soda shop, which also showcases his inventions. Two of his inventions are the ROC (Room of Consequences) and the Imagination Station. He has a few employees, which over the years have included Eugene Meltsner, Connie Kendall, Nick Mulligan, and Wooton Bassett. He was originally voiced by Hal Smith; after Smith's death in 1994, Whit left Odyssey to lead an archaeological mission in Israel for the Universal Press Foundation, of which he is the CEO. Whit returned to Odyssey in 1996 and was voiced by Paul Herlinger until 2008. In 2009, Andre Stojka started voicing Whit when Paul Herlinger retired. To honor Whit in 2015, Focus on the Family created The John Avery Whittaker Award.
The character of Whit is somewhat of an enigma. His actual age is never mentioned in the audio series, but we can assume he was in his late teens or early twenties when serving in the Pacific in WWII. This would put him to be about 65 at the start of the radio series and about 94 as of 2018 but there is no hard confirmation of that. According to Radio Scripts, Volume 1 and the Original Complete Guide, Whit was born on October 1st, contradicting the The Caves of Qumran which suggests that Whit's birthday is August 14, 1939 which would make him 78 as of 2018.
Although born in Scotland, Whit does not have a Scottish accent. Whit's family moved to North Carolina when he was a child, where his father, Harold, taught at Duke University and married his stepmother, Fiona Donneral. During a horseback riding accident his stepmother was struck by a branch and lost her sight as a result. Young Whit saw the accident as his fault, but in the end, her faith and contentment about her situation were the biggest influences on his faith. These events were flash-backed to in #49: “Thank You, God”. In #94: “Operation Digout” he also mentions that he was attending Duke University before he was drafted into the military.
Whit served in the U.S. Navy as a signalman on the USS Irongate during World War II in the Pacific, having been deployed shortly before the Battle of Guadalcanal (#93: “Rescue from Manatugo Point” and #94: “Operation Digout”). He is missing the top part of his right ear from a battle.
After the war, Whit attended the University of Southern California (with help, presumably, from the Montgomery G. I. Bill and also from the profit of the Spanish coins Whit and Jack found as boys (#297: “Blackbeard's Treasure”), where he studied English and met his future wife, Jenny (as revealed in episode #464: “The Triangle, Part 1”).
Though Whit mentions in #94: “Operation Digout” that he was first studying at Duke University, it's possible that after the war he simply transferred to USC to finish his studies.
Universal Press Foundation
Following university, Whit's history is somewhat unclear. At at some point, he founded the "Universal Press Foundation", an encyclopedia publisher, and helped create the Universal Encyclopedia. His time at UPF was also spent working closely with members of the Department of Defense in creation of the powerful computer program, "Applesauce" (#73: “A Bite of Applesauce”)Which was later destroyed by Whit himself, after Dr. Blackgaard tried to steal it again in episode #156 Waylaid in the Windy City Part 2 .
Despite the fact that in The Triangle, Part 1 Whit said he didn't have the patience to be a teacher, that was ultimately his primary profession. He spent at least fifteen years teaching at McCollum Jr. High as mentioned in Great Expectations. Apparently McCollum Jr. High wasn't the only school he taught at in Odyssey as he mentioned in The Lost Riddle he taught at Odyssey Middle School part time when Odyssey High School was being renovated and both schools were in the middle school building. It's possible that because he was such a good teacher (Tom Riley mentioned in Recollections that the city council gave him an award for teaching) he was asked out of retirement for his part time work at Odyssey Middle School. It's also mentioned that he's a Sunday School teacher at Odyssey Community Church.
Odyssey and Whit's End
Eventually, he moved, along with his wife Jenny, to Odyssey after founding UPF. There, he taught middle school children. His wife's death inspired him to open Whit's End (#19: “Recollections”). After Jenny's death, Whit also considered adopting a young girl named Clara Portland, but Jack made a mistake in letting Whit become close to Clara when Jack knew that Clara would be adopted by someone else.
Whit is something of a daredevil who's been known to sky-dive in his spare time. But it's probably safe to say that at the end of the day, he'd rather just read a good book.
- Main article: Whittaker family
Whit's wife was Jenny Whittaker. Whit's children are:
- Jerry, who died in Vietnam. A Member of the Family, Part 2 mentions Jerry's death is what caused Whit to move the family to Odyssey and to bury himself in spending time with Jason fearing he could be drafted. It also caused a rift with Jana.
- Jana Whittaker-Dowd, formerly married to Phil Dowd. Her children are Jenny and Monty.
- Jason, a former NSA/FBI agent.
It is interesting to note, that with the exception of Monty and formerly, Phil, all in Whit's family have the initial "J".
In the episode My Brother's Keeper, it mentions that he has a sister.
In Attack at the Arena, Whit mentions that he has an ancestor named Albert.