Ms. Janet Colquhoun Whitehead


Ms. Janet Colquhoun Whitehead, who felt she looked best at the age of 4, died Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. She was born Nov. 15, 1935, to the late Winton and Janet Peirce Whitehead. After growing up in Eastville, she lived away for most of her working life and then returned permanently to her beloved hometown in the 1980s. Wherever she ventured, she stood up for her Scottish family name, which no one could pronounce, and for her birthplace, which no one could find on the map.

She attended local schools and in 1957 was graduated from the College of William & Mary, where she contributed to campus publications and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She moved to New York, hoping to find work in publishing, but couldn’t resist the 30 Rockefeller Plaza address of an analyst job with Shell Oil Company. After enjoying the Plaza’s hustle and bustle for two years, she was happy to be hired as an editor at Medical Economics magazine. The “luck of a lifetime” came in 1961, when she was appointed to the human resources staff of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the scientific research center on eastern Long Island. Beginning as policy writer and editor of the in-house newspaper, she remained at the Laboratory for more than two decades, eventually breaking a so-called glass ceiling when named personnel manager for some 4,000 employees. Her work brought many opportunities for travel here and abroad, and she enjoyed her membership in a multi-national community of open and inquiring minds. For the remainder of her life, she held on to an inclusive world view and firm belief in the value of science.

On Long Island, her major community effort was to serve on the board of directors of Brookhaven Memorial Hospital and Suffolk County’s regional medical center. In later years she was an active member of the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore as well as several groups focused on local history. In the 1990’s she devoted many volunteer hours to seeking grant funds for renovation of the Eastville Inn and became the first construction project manager when financing became available.

She leaves behind a circle of good friends near and far; loyal godchildren; and several cousins, including Mrs. N. Wescott Jacob, of Onancock.

A graveside service will be conducted Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at 2 p.m., at Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery with the Rev. Daniel L. Crockett officiating. It is suggested that any memorial contributions be made to a local charity or to the Eastern Shore Community College Foundation, designated for the Whitehead Scholarship, 2300 Lankford Highway, Melfa, VA 23410-3000.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at 

Arrangements were made by Doughty Funeral Home in Exmore.

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