Don Ray Whitworth, 77

Don Whitworth, 77, passed away at his home on September 22, 2021.

Don was born in Haleyville, AL on April 11, 1944. He moved to Polk County with his family as a small boy, graduated from Lakeland High School, then served four years in the U.S. Air Force. He started his newspaper career as a classified advertising representative with The Tampa Tribune in 1967. He joined The Ledger in 1974 working in various advertising positions – including Ad Director for ten years. In 1985 Don was named Publisher of the Wilmington, NC Star-News, which like The Ledger was owned by the New York Times. He returned to Lakeland as Publisher and President of The Ledger in 1988.

While publisher, Don was responsible for the $72 million, 180,000-square-foot Ledger facility built in downtown Lakeland. The building was dedicated on April 31,1998. This was the single largest investment ever in downtown Lakeland.

In April 2000 Don retired from The Ledger but continued newspaper consulting for the next few years.

During his career Don served on several civic and community boards. Lakeland Area Chamber, 1995 Chairman of the Board, United Way of Central Florida, Southern Newspaper Association, Megabration 2000, Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland Economic Development Council, Kiwanis, Director of The Florida Prize, and a member of Lodge 91 Lakeland and a 32nd degree Mason.

Don was a big hearted person who always went out of his way to help others. He had an infectious laugh and was always sharing humorous stories wherever he went.

Don is predeceased by his parents, Rufus and Bernice Whitworth. His surviving family includes his wife Peggie of 57 years, daughter Amy of Lakeland a son Tad (Cyndi) of Bartow, FL., and his sister Robina Whitworth, Boca Raton.

There are no services scheduled at this time. Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.