Dr. E. Andrew Whittington, a veterinarian and triathlete who had been a longtime Sykesville resident, died of cardiac arrest Monday at his home in Sarasota, Fla. He was 58.
Tomorrow was to have been Dr. Whittington's last day practicing veterinary medicine at University Animal Clinic in Sarasota, where he had worked since moving from Sykesville in 1999.
Dr. Whittington changed careers to become a personal trainer and had recently established FIT Inc. - Focused Individual Training - and planned to work with people older than 50.
An accomplished and nationally ranked amateur athlete, Dr. Whittington was a veteran of more than 20 marathons, including Boston's and New York City's, and competed in the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon.
As a member of the U.S. Triathlon Association's world championship team, he participated at events in Manchester, England, and Lausanne, Switzerland. He had earned All-America status from the U.S. Triathlon Association and locally was a member of Columbia Triathlon Association Inc.
He also was a certified ski instructor and scuba diver.
"He was just one of those people who had lots of natural talent, and he took being a triathlete very seriously," said Dr. Vito N. Giardina, a member of the Columbia group and friend of 22 years. "He was modest, and when you asked how he had made out, he'd say, 'I did all right.' He never bragged about himself even when he broke records or had a good time in an event. He took it all in stride.
"He was a generally nice person who could motivate people. He was not a type-A athlete. He liked helping people and giving them advice," Dr. Giardina said.
"He said he always wanted to be a personal trainer and was excited about starting a new business," said Dr. Robert W. Rill, a veterinarian and owner of the practice where Dr. Whittington worked.
"Andy was the epitome of good health. He worked out, jogged, swam and rode his bike every day. He was the last person you ever expected to have a problem, and his sudden death is both a loss and a shock," he said.
"Andy's father had died when he was very young, and he was always concerned that would be his fate as well. So he exercised and was always strong, muscular and lean," said Aggie C. Sanders of Catonsville, a longtime friend.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Randallstown, Dr. Whittington was a 1966 graduate of Milford Mill High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in animal science in 1970 from the University of Maryland, College Park and completed his veterinary training in 1975 at the University of the Philippines in Los Banos.
"His grandfather had been a veterinarian and owned A.J. Buck & Son, a medical supply company in Baltimore," said Dr. Whittington's wife of 34 years, the former Virginia "Ginnie" Dahl, a psychotherapist who met him when they were in the same first-grade class.
Dr. Whittington opened Eldersburg Veterinary Hospital on Liberty Road in 1976, and moved it to Route 32 in Sykesville in 1981.
"He was the most fabulous and gentlest kind of vet," Mrs. Sanders said.
Dr. Whittington and his wife were founders of the Carroll County Gourmet Club, a group of friends who enjoyed preparing and sharing gourmet meals.
"Andy and Ginnie were probably the most well-known and beloved couple in Sykesville. They knew how to have fun, were great to be around and loved going out and trying new things," Mrs. Sanders said.
A memorial gathering celebrating Dr. Whittington's life will be held at 10 a.m. June 11 in the garden of his Sarasota home.
Also surviving are a son, Adam E. Whittington of Atlanta; a daughter, Amy E. Whittington of Sarasota; and a brother, Jack Whittington of Union Bridge.