The Grain Valley Price Chopper has been open since January of 2018. It is owned by the Cosentinos and is one of more than 50 Price Chopper stores that exist in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Recently, you may have been greeted as you enter the store by an employee who had just finished cleaning carts that had been returned for customer use.
If you were fortunate enough to have Harold Whittlesey greet you, no doubt a “hello” was offered along with a positive comment and a smile. The smile would be visible through the mask Harold wears due to the creases around his eyes turning up and the chuckle that would come out from behind the cloth.
Grain Valley News has received nominations to highlight Whittlesey in our Community Profile section. The nominations included mention of Whittlesey’s commitment to his job and possessing a happiness that would be hard for someone to steal. Whittlesey attributes his happiness to his parents and his faith.
“My mother saved my report cards from school. Teachers stated they enjoyed having me in class because I was always smiling and happy. That’s the best way to go through life because it extends your life. Having a close relationship with the Lord has also played a part,” Whittlesey said.
The Grain Valley resident believes cheering up others brings him happiness. Whittlesey attributes his caring nature being instilled in him by his mother. The work ethic the 77 year old still possesses on display at Price Chopper as a sacker and greeter was promoted by his father who worked two jobs to provide for the family.
Whittlesey works part time at Price Chopper to stay active and to keep the “wolves from growling at his door,” as he puts it, to make things a little easier financially. The former millworker, interior door trimmer, and aerospace worker has been retired for 13 years.
Whittlesey has also enjoyed watching and participating in sports his entire life. The former member of the Kansas City, Kansas Comets semi-pro baseball team relished the opportunity to travel and compete against other 12 man teams in the area during his younger working days. Refereeing was also a passion for Whittlesey. High school baseball and basketball games are on his officiating resume, as is college volleyball and softball.
Being a lifelong learner is something that Whittlesey preaches and has practiced. It took him 41 years to complete, but his bachelor’s degree from Ottawa University in Physical Education is proudly displayed in his home. Whittlesey has also tried to pass on the things he’s learned in his life to other people.
“My favorite part of customer service is getting to tell people to have a fantastic day. If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours is what my Dad use to say,” Whittlesey said.
Learning to find sliver linings in all things is a lesson that is not lost on Whittlesey as well. The current coronavirus pandemic was framed from Whittlesey’s perspective when asked his thoughts on the matter.
“We all realize it’s a problem. If the house is burning down, why would you jump into the house regarding people who have ignored social distancing guidelines and have congregated in large groups anyway,” Whittlesey said.
“Hopefully, people have enjoyed increased time with their family. My wife and Dad have grown close because they are spending more time together. Attending church and worship on Sunday through YouTube has been new and enjoyable.”
Whittlesey finished, “Being aware of best way to support others is a good way to defeat the I and me attitudes we encounter. We live together in this world and not alone, so sharing and being happy will make it the best. Try to find positive people and associate with them. Sharing life with people is important. If you make one person a day less sour, then you improve the world.”