Whitaker Family

May 28, 2024 Alumni News

The 2024 Ben Lippen commencement holds a unique significance for the Whitaker family. Maddie Whitaker is set to graduate almost 60 years to the day after her grandmother, Luann Washer Whitaker, walked across the stage in Huston Hall for her own Ben Lippen graduation ceremony.

Luann, a ’64 grad, grew up on the mission field and left her home in West Africa to attend Ben Lippen School in Asheville, NC, starting her sophomore year. Having grown up in the desert, she recalls the transition to the school’s mountainous setting as feeling like “going to camp on a mountaintop.”

Among Luann’s most cherished memories are the lifelong friendships she forged and her active involvement with Child Evangelism in Asheville every weekend. These experiences ignited her passion for education, leading to a fulfilling teaching career. As a student, Luann played basketball and participated in choir. She was particularly influenced by her math teacher, Mr. Hathaway; choir teacher, Mr. Morrison; and her dorm supervisor, Verna Birkey.

Like her grandmother, Maddie is very engaged in the Ben Lippen community through her active participation in athletics, FCA, Younglife, and various student government positions. She concluded her senior year as the Student Life Prefect, demonstrating her leadership and commitment. While Maddie’s days wearing her BL campus wear are now behind her, the mountain logo has been more than just a symbol on the school uniform; for her, it represents a connection to the school’s heritage and its origins in Asheville, a legacy she cherishes.

Luann holds dear Ben Lippen’s tradition of pointing students towards a relationship with the Lord, a foundation she is grateful the school continues to uphold. She believes the most vital tradition is “God using Ben Lippen to create hearts to serve the Lord.” Her advice to Maddie and her other grandchildren who also attend is simple: “Be faithful and serve the Lord in whatever capacity you can.” She also appreciates how they are “well-challenged through good academics.” Following her grandmother’s influence, Maddie has gone on multiple international mission trips, including one very special one back to Africa, where her great-grandmother started a school for the blind and laid a foundation for a mission hospital.

After graduating from Ben Lippen, Luann attended Bob Jones University, where she met her husband, Joe. She remained in Greenville to begin her teaching career, retiring after an impressive 46 years in the kindergarten and 1st grade classroom, 43 of which were spent at Hampton Park Christian School in Greenville.

Over half a century later, her granddaughter will turn her tassel and begin a new adventure. Maddie is considering a career in nursing and wants to serve on an extended mission trip to Africa in the same region where her grandmother grew up.

Luann’s legacy at Ben Lippen and her enduring commitment to education and faith continue to inspire her family, making Maddie’s graduation a poignant and memorable milestone for the whole Whitaker family.