Donald Gorrell Whitlatch

Donald Gorrell Whitlatch

November 15, 1948 - November 01, 2023

Donald Gorrell Whitlatch

November 15, 1948 - November 01, 2023


Don Gorrell Whitlatch passed away on November 1, 2023.

Don was born on November 15, 1948, in Pasadena, California to Barbara and Donald Gorrell.  Don’s father passed away when Don was 7 years old.  His Mother married Wiley Whitlatch and Don was adopted by him when he was 8 years old.  Both Barbara and Wiley preceded him in death.

Don joined the Navy in 1970, was discharged in 1972, moved to Laguna Beach, CA and was relieved of reserve duty in 1975.  Don graduated from Orange Coast College with an Associate of Arts degree in 1974.  From there he began to do various construction jobs and did landscape work in Laguna Beach.  He began to take construction work seriously and obtained his Contractor’s and Landscape license in the early eighties.  He also held a Real Estate Sales license along with a Real Estate Appraiser’s license.

Don married in June of 1983 to Jeanette Rocchio-Whitlatch into a big Italian family.  Don was an only child and considered his new family his own.  Don loved the idea that his new adopted family was Italian, he was eager to be a part of the ‘tribe.’  He longed to be Italian and went as far as checking on ’23 and Me’ to see if he had any Italian blood.  Upon discovering he had a miniscule amount of Italian in him he was elated.

Before his spinal cord injury occurred on July 10, 2005, Don spent the previous 20 years building a General Contracting business (Whitco Enterprises Incorporated) with the reputation of Hands-On, High-Quality Control, new construction of condominiums and townhouse projects.  Don was interested in sparing the City of Laguna Beach from being exploited by outsiders solely for financial gain.  He actively worked with neighbors supporting and maintaining the welfare of those making Laguna Beach their homes.

Don was a mild-mannered man, who enjoyed the simple pleasures of life.  Before his injury Don enjoyed beach activities, in the ocean he loved body surfing, diving, and spear fishing.  On the sand he enjoyed paddle ball and throwing a frisbee.  Don also had a great sense of humor and was trying to think of a joke to be told at his funeral.  He appreciated good music, his favorite musician was Jackson Browne, along with Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac.

Don appreciated all the wonderful things that God created in nature, a beautiful sunset, doves nesting on the deck, sweet smelling flowers to name a few.  Don was also a beekeeper in the ‘70’s and harvested honey.

Don loved his home; it was his sanctuary.  After Don’s accident he became a Catholic Christian and relished in receiving the Eucharist brought to him daily.  He is now in the presence of The Lord and his funeral will be celebrated on would have been his 75th birthday.  Happy Birthday in heaven Dear Don.

Funeral Mass will be held at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Laguna Beach, CA at 10:00 AM on November 15, 2023.  Interment at Ascension Cemetery will follow.

In lieu of flowers, if considering this, please donate in memory of Don to: “Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.”  If you would like any assistance, you can email or call 866-928-1237.

Funeral Mass

  • Date & Time: November 15, 2023 (10:00 AM)
  • Venue: St. Catherine Of Siena Catholic Church
  • Location: 1042 Temple Terrace Laguna Beach, CA 92651 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 497-9701


  • Date & Time: November 15, 2023 (11:30 AM)
  • Venue: Ascension Cemetery
  • Location: 24754 Trabuco Road Lake Forest, CA 92630 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 837-1331

Word On Fire Catholic Ministries

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6 responses to Donald Gorrell Whitlatch

  1. Beth Blake Davis says:

    No one was happier when Don and my wonderful friend Jeanette found one another! And such a great time we had when my Jim and Jeanee’s Don met for the first time when we visited in Weirton from Oregon….woodworkers both exchanging stories. There are some who have been lucky in life to have found a love that will last forever, Jeanee and I were among them. God bless you, my friend

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