On Monday afternoon, 18 April 2011, Stanley E. Whiting passed away at a Hospice center just outside Independence, Missouri. Earlier this year, at age 76, Stanley learned that the pancreatic cancer he successfully pushed back 3 years ago had returned with a vengeance.
Born on 26 October, 1936, Stanley spent his entire life in and around the Mormon Zion, graduating from William Chrisman High School in 1952, and working for Armco Steel Company until his retirement in 1989. He was also a vintage motorcycle enthusiast, avid squaredancer and accomplished pilot, who built racing airplanes. He was married for 57 years to his beloved Shirley, who, along with 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren, survives him in their modest Independence home.
Stanley was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite). One of the smallest branches of the Restoration, the Cutlerites are named for Alpheus Cutler, bodyguard to Joseph Smith, member of the Nauvoo High Council, Council of Fifty, and Anointed Quorum, and “chief architect and master workman of God’s holy houses”—i.e. the temples. When the Twelve secretly returned to Missouri en route to their missionary duties for a planned cornerstone ceremony in Far West, Cutler accompanied them and actually laid the cornerstone. Though Cutler initially supported the authority of the Twelve over the church in the wake of the assassination of the Smith brothers, he eventually broke ranks with Brigham Young during the trek west. After receiving a visionary sign, Cutler reorganized a Church in Manti, Iowa, in 1853. Cutler claimed that the Church in Nauvoo had come under divine condemnation for its failure to complete the temple in “sufficient time” (cf D&C 124:31-32). At its height, during Cutler’s presidency in Manti, the Church had nearly 200 members. After Cutler’s death in 1864, RLDS missionizing led to a diminishing of Cutlerite ranks, and the movement eventually relocated to Independence, where a tiny group still upholds Cutler’s legacy through weekly worship, sacred priesthood ordinances (said to derive directly and without alteration from the Nauvoo endowment), and the consecration of properties.
It is perhaps a technical misnomer to call Stanley Whiting a Prophet. Strictly speaking, he was the President of the High Priesthood, to which he was ordained by (and as successor to) his father, Julian, on 30 April 1997. The Cutlerites recognize a distinct separation between the Church and the Kingdom, associating the priesthood more with the latter, which can exist independently of the Church. Stanley died as the possessor of the keys to the kingdom, which he traced to Cutler who received them, as a member of the Anointed Quorum as well as the Quorum of Seven (a governing body within the Council of Fifty), from the Prophet Joseph. In the weeks to come, those few Culterites who remain will gather in a conference and sustain a new President of the High Priesthood and Kingdom (Stanley’s cousin and first counselor, Vernon Whiting), and the movement will go on in patience and faith.
On a more personal note, what little time I was able to spend with Stanley and Shirley showed me a remarkable man. Combining absolute conviction in his calling with a striking personal humility, this steel-worker-cum-prophet was as personable and down-to-earth as anyone I ever met. His wife, Shirley, took heroic care of him as his body slowly failed him. He will undoubtedly be welcomed by a loving Heavenly Father, grateful for the humble dedication of this good and faithful servant. Would that we all could meet our maker having lived the honorable and fulfilled life of Stanley E. Whiting.