Robert Whiteman

Obituary of Robert Whiteman

Robert Whiteman of Rye, New York passed away peacefully on September 10, 2017 at the age of 91. He lived a long and truly accomplished life as a concert violinist, inventor, expert in licensing intellectual property and marketing. Above all, Bob was devoted to Bettye, his wife of nearly 70 years, his three children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 

Born in Savannah, Georgia to Arthur and Rosebud Whiteman, Bob was a child prodigy who at the age of 10 was invited to play the violin for President Roosevelt at the White House. Seven years later he moved to New York to attend the Julliard School of Musical Art and later was a founding member of the New York String Quartet, playing Carnegie Hall and touring nationally. While still in his twenties, Bob co-produced Broadway shows, invented board games, candy bars and food products. During this period, he met and became a protégé of Robert Ripley, who was intrigued with Bob’s marketing ideas for Ripley’s Believe It or Not. This led to a fifty-year relationship during which Bob was the primary licensing agent for the Ripley organization, including the production of three television series that are still being broadcast around the world. Simultaneously, Bob was the owner and CEO of Liberty Library Corporation, the holder of the copyrights for Liberty Magazine, which was published from 1925 through 1950. Over 120 major motion pictures have been produced based on stories that appeared in Liberty. Through his management and curating of the Liberty Library, Bob helped establish landmark copyright case law that still governs the licensing of intellectual property. Retirement was not part of Bob’s vocabulary and his office was open until the day he died. According to many of his friends, Bob’s other “business interest” was gin rummy and he was a formidable competitor whose win-loss record could not be explained by good luck. He loved to share his gin knowledge with his children and grandchildren, and they will carry on this family tradition. 

Bob is survived by his loving wife Bettye and daughters, Dale Pinto and her husband James and Caren Kline and her husband Peter. His son Robert G. Whiteman and his wife Cindy predeceased Bob in 2014. He is also survived by grandchildren: Alexander Whiteman and his wife Katie, Elizabeth and Caroline Whiteman, Caren, Nick and Brooke Pinto, Catherine Wrightson and her husband James and Christina Kline; and by great-grandchildren: Caroline, Jack, Charlotte and Ella Grace. 

Everyone in the family is truly grateful for the wonderful team of staff and caregivers whose loyalty and support have been truly extraordinary over the years. The kindness and compassion shown by Paulo, Simone, Soraia, Living, Eros, Mariangelas and Norma is appreciated beyond words. 

The family will receive visitors at Graham Funeral Home, 1036 Boston Post Road, Rye, NY between 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 13th and a Celebration of Life service will be held at the Rye Presbyterian Church, 882 Boston Post Road, Rye, NY on September 14th at 1:00 PM.