American Veteran 04

Elmer E. "Rip" Whetstone

August 19, 1925 ~ May 3, 2021 (age 95)

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Johnston – Elmer E. “Rip” Whetstone, 95, of Johnston and formerly of Lincoln passed away peacefully Monday, May 3, 2021 at Rhode Island Hospital, Providence with his twin daughters by his side. He was the beloved husband of Marjorie Ann (Buteau) Whetstone.

Born in Providence, a son of the late Albert and Gwendolyn L. (Barnes) Whetstone, he had lived in Lincoln for most of his life, and had lived in Florida before moving back to Rhode Island and settling in Johnston.

Rip was the owner of Whetstone Dental Lab in Pawtucket for many years before retiring in 1989. Rip’s career as Santa began after his retirement from his Dental Lab.  He happened to be walking past the Santa display at Lincoln Mall when he was called over and recruited as a Real Bearded Santa.  He took on that challenge and was drafted to fill in for a Santa in New York City.  He filled in there and flew back to RI on Christmas morning.  On that flight, the Captain announced that Santa was among the passengers and the passengers gave him a round of applause. After the New Year, he and Marge took their RV to Florida for the winter and visit Disney World, while there he was welcomed by many of the characters and he had an idea, calling his daughter, Joyce, to send his Santa resume’ to Disney. This resulted in a phone call and appointment for an interview at Disney.  He was hired for the next season at the Downtown Disney location for that season and the next season called on to serve at the American Pavilion in Epcot.  After a few years Marge joined him as Mrs. Claus.  He met a number of celebrities as Santa, including Julie Andrews and her grandchildren ‘backstage’. His Santa persona also visited Busch Gardens for a few years after Disney.  Rip retired as Santa and passed his suit on to his son, Bill. While portraying Santa at Disney he made many friends with cast and support folks. 

He was a member and a Past Master of the former Barney Merry Lodge #29, F. & A.M., Pawtucket (now St. John’s Lodge #1, F. & A.M.). He was a former member of Lincoln Country Club and a former member of Christ Church, Lincoln, where he was a Sunday school teacher.

He was a World War II Navy veteran.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his four children, William E. and Jolene Whetstone of Montana, twin daughters, Joyce Whetstone of Warwick and Joanne W. and Ron Nolen of Reading, PA; and John E. and Susan Whetstone of Chepachet; one sister, Janice Chisholm of Missouri; eight grandchildren; twelve great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. He was the brother of the late Hazel Butler, Albert Whetstone, William Whetstone and Elise Cote.

His services are private at his request. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in his memory to Shriners Hospital for Children, 51 Blossom Street, Boston, MA 02114 or the family would hope that you will do an unexpected act of kindness for an unfortunate soul in his name.  For the Guest Book, please visit Arrangements entrusted with Bellows Funeral Chapel, 160 River Road, Lincoln, RI.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Elmer E. "Rip" Whetstone, please visit our floral store.


Private Services


Shriner's Hospital for Children - Boston
51 Blossom Street, Boston MA 02114

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