F.James Whalen MD

F.James "Jim" Whalen MD

Thursday, October 3rd, 1940 - Tuesday, October 6th, 2020
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Dr. F. James Whalen, 80, died at home in Machias on October 6, 2020. He was born in Waukegan, IL on October 3, 1940 to Kemener (KJ) and Avis Whalen.

He attended Rutgers University on a swimming scholarship and earned a B.S. in Chemistry. He continued onto Georgetown for his residency in Orthopedics. He completed other programs to expand his medical expertise including a program in Paris specializing in hand surgery. He also proudly served in the United States Air Force from 1962 to 1965.

During his 42 years in Machias, Dr. Whalen showed commitment to providing quality medical care and fought endlessly for the community with a citizen first focus. He performed surgery after surgery at Down East Community Hospital for decades, and continuously ran a private practice to assess broken bones and medical issues far beyond that.

Most recently, he brought energy and enthusiasm to public service efforts as a member of the Machias Board of Selectmen. His focus was to create sustainability and success in rural Maine. The community will remember him as someone who challenged and inspired us all. He asked the tough questions and stepped up for people as he felt all people deserve a fair shot at reaching their potential.

He is survived by his wife, Catherine (Williams) Whalen, and their two children Nicholas of Boston, MA, and Brittany of Portland, ME. He is also survived by his ex-wife Marie and their two children and their spouses Amy and Gerard of Sharon, MA, Sara and Brett of Bethel, ME. He is also survived by his brothers Powell, Michael, Mark, and Matthew, and his sisters Claire, Rita, Mary Avis, and Nina. He will also be lovingly remembered by his grandchildren: Mia, Eli, Yvette, Olivia, and Clark.

Due to Covid19 restrictions, an announcement regarding a ceremony will be forthcoming. He will be buried in Vermont with his mother, father and other family members. In lieu of flowers, please continue to support your local police and fire departments in Machias and throughout Washington County.
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Genie Hall

Posted at 06:51pm
What can I say about FJ! I remember his first time at DECH interviewing, he had on a three piece suit, I thought a new minister or funeral director , all he needed was a red carnation in his lapel. He made me laugh and made me cry in the years we worked together but always a friend. He was a great co worker, physician who helped so many with his generous ways , I’m sure not all realize. He was fun to work for and with. I will miss running into him at post office and other places in town with that big smile. You always told me you would retire when you passed. I certainly hope you are keeping Dennis Lewis in line and with all your former colleagues you are having your own medical staff meeting or as we always called it Monday Night at the Fights! I’m sure I’ll see you again some day and we can discuss the good old days! I miss you already. Btw your two ladies from
Jonesboro will always try to one up each other for your attention!!!

Sara Whalen Shifrin Posted at 07:43pm

Genie, this memorial brings such peace. He believed in always dressing to show respect--I still do not head out the door to work with wet hair, as he said it would show I had not put in the proper preparation time. I love the idea of staff meetings and the insight that he would only retire upon passing. Let us keep up his care for others, make time for each other when we pass at the store and smile widely. Thank you for sharing these memories.

Anna Grimshaw

Posted at 09:25am
"You’ve got to have projects”, Jim would always say with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. And he certainly had them -- not least his wonderful vineyard in Northfield. On a memorable trip with Jim to his farm, he proudly showed us his carefully planted rows of small vines on a perfectly positioned southern slope. Despite all the hurdles and setbacks, he continued to believe in the possibility of a fine Downeast wine. We appreciated Jim for his kindness, generosity and wise counsel. Of course, he was sometimes provocative and it wasn’t always possible to agree with him, but Jim relished debate. He was a man of principle and dedicated to serving the communities of this area. We will miss him tremendously.

Sara Whalen Shifrin Posted at 10:06am

Anna, thank you for your kind words. The vines are meticulously staked for winter rest. Carry on the "twinkle" of a good project that serves your own soul and the needs of the community. Thank you for remembering him with kindness and care. Sara Whalen Shifrin

David Freedberg

Posted at 09:22pm
By the time we met Jim he was already a legend in town. No one was a fiercer advocate for Machias, no one more committed to its people. He was there for everyone. His medical care was truly Hippocratic, his generosity unbounded. It was a treat to spend time with him, rebutting his idiosyncratic positions, and endorsing his pragmatic enthusiasms. He was unendingly wry, often ironic (a gift in these grim times), always elegant, eloquent and enthusiastic. If we could have become drunk on the fruit of the vines he was cultivating on an improbably sunny slope in Northfield we would have. Now we will have to make do with the memories, poor substitute for reality, but the only resource for those left behind --
David Freedberg.

Sara Whalen Shifrin Posted at 10:10am

David, my dad would be equally humbled and proud to read your kind words. His "idiosyncratic positions" were unmatched on a Sunday afternoon, but a tonic in the sound-byte world. Thank you for capturing the times you shared and the friend he was to you and many more.

Ellen Huntley Keenan

Posted at 04:06pm
I was a patient of Dr. Whalen when he first opened his practice in Machias. He was very kind and caring, as well as being extremely knowledgeable. My sincerest sympathies go out to his family, friends and community on their loss.

Ellen Huntley Keenan, Lubec

Sara Whalen Shifrin Posted at 10:13am

Thank you, Ellen. It was the people early in his practice that showed him that Machias was a special community. Your appreciation and sympathies are felt and we all thank you.


Posted at 12:40am
Took my mom Patricia Rier to see Dr. Whalon. He was an amazing Dr. Who loved local history and downeast people...Mom had broke her ankle after Dad passed away. So impressed with his level of care...need more like him. Rest in peace.

Sara Whalen Shifrin Posted at 10:15am

Thank you for your kind words. Doc certainly did love to learn all he could about the area and appreciated that his skill as a doctor gave him the chance to meet many people and to hear their stories. The people of DownEast certainly became his extended family.

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