News Article

ITA Master Susan Michele Whitman Passes Away

Susan Michele Whitman (1953 - 2007)
It is with great pain and sorrow that we announce that ITA (International TaeKwon-Do Association), Master Susan M. Whitman passed away on January 10, 2007, in Lapeer, Michigan, USA, after a prolonged illness. Master Whitman was 53 at the time of her death.

Funeral was held at 11AM January 13, 2007 at the Davison Free Methodist Church, Davison, Michigan. The funeral service was conducted by Pastor Brad Button. Visitation was held at Muir Brothers Funeral Home in Lapeer, Michigan.

At the service several people spoke of their love and respect for Master Whitman including her brother retired Colonel Dale Wiley, Master Ron Jovanovitz, Mrs. Teresa Grabill, Master Joan McDowell, and ITA president and founder Grandmaster James S. Benko.

Grandmaster Benko announced that he has established the "Susan Whitman Memorial Martial Arts Scholarship Fund". Through this scholarship Master Whitman will continue to reach out and help those who love the martial arts as she did. The ITA will pay for a one year of tuition at the KMAI (Korean Martial Arts Institute). This shall be announced at the KMAI annual anniversary celebration, held each December. Grandmaster Benko will personally select the recipient of the scholarship award. Anyone who would like to contribute to the scholarship fund may click here for more information.

Master Susan Michele Whitman was born on June 6, 1953. Master Whitman was a nurse for over 23 years, earning her Bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in Flint, Michigan. She longed to change course and work with people to improve their health. She quit her job at St. Joseph Hospital and continued her education earning a M.A. in Health Education at Central Michigan University.

Master Whitman owned and managed the Korean Martial Arts Institute, World training headquarters for the International TaeKwon-Do Association, with Master Ron Jovanovitz. She had achieved the rank of 4th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do from the International TaeKwon-Do Association and a 4th degree black belt in Han Kuk Mu Ki Do (traditional Korean weapons) from the Korean Martial Arts Federation. Master Whitman was most proud of the positive impact she had on all the children and adults that attended her Korean Martial Arts Institute. She loved all animals, especially her pets.

In addition to her duties as the co-owner and manager of the KMAI, Master Whitman was also instrumental in helping establish training programs for both the International TaeKwon-Do Association and the Korean Martial Arts Federation. She appears in several DVD training presentations with Grandmaster Benko and was an Associate Editor for the Korean Martial Arts Institute Newsletter.

Master Whitman is survived by her husband, Steve Whitman of Lapeer, Michigan; step-son, Jacob Whitman of Green Bay, Wisconsin; grandchildren, Jordan, Anika, Seth and Allyah; parents, Raymond and Jean Wildey of Lapeer, Michigan; siblings, retired Colonel Dale (Emilie) Wiley of Stewart, Minnesota, and Debra Huelga of Williamson, Michigan; mother-in-law, Joyce Diehl of Mims, Florida; and several nieces and nephews.

"The loss of such a kind and giving person as Master Susan Whitman has had a major impact on many individuals. From family to friends, from colleagues to students, her spirit has touched them all. I personally feel a great sense of loss and emptiness. She was an inspiration to so many that we shall all have a special place in our hearts for her. We shall miss her. Master Whitman is not truly gone. She can be found in our loving memories of her and our daily prayers, and, I hope, in some small way, the scholarship fund I have established in her name. God bless you and keep you Master Whitman".

Grandmaster James S. Benko
International TaeKwon-Do Association

Front row - left to right - Master Joan McDowell, Master Susan Whitman, Michelle Sorderberg,
Back row - left to right - Head Master John McDowell (suit), Master Greg McDowell, Master Jerry Neale, Master Ron Jovanovitz, Grandmaster Benko (suit),.

Master Whitman Sparring
Using The Long Staff

Master Whitman Demonstrating A
Kwan Jyel Sul Technique

Master Whitman At Summer Camp
Beach Training - Punching The Sand

Master Whitman Loved Helping All
Her Students, Especially The Children.

Master Whitman Was A Master Of
The Tahn Bong (Short Stick)

Master Whitman Was A Master Of
The Jang Bong (Long Staff)

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