Longtime Sun Journal sportswriter Randy Whitehouse, 51, a respected and award-winning journalist, died Sunday. 

2019 Sun Journal photo of sports reporter Randy Whitehouse. Buy this Photo

Whitehouse had been battling back from serious health issues since January and was making significant progress until a setback late last week.

He was a dedicated journalist, but nothing fulfilled him like his family: his son, Andrew, was his pride, and, his wife, Joyce, who died in October 2019, was his joy. 

Randy was a large man with a raspy voice, and he wasn’t the type of person to smile for no reason. That earned him nicknames like “Hulking and Surly Randy Whitehouse,” given by Sun Journal reporter Mark LaFlamme, and “The Surly Mainer,” by fellow Sun Journal sports writer Tony Blasi. 

But from that exterior emerged a different Randy Whitehouse when talking about his family. 

Judy Meyer, the executive editor of the Sun Journal, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, said her most prominent memory of Whitehouse comes from the time that Joyce was pregnant with Andrew. Surly Randy became giddy with excitement about the impending addition to his life.

“It was as if nobody in the history of the world had ever given birth before,” Meyer said.

She added, “It was so human and touching, that whenever I saw him I thought about it.”

Randy Whitehouse and his son Andrew on the sidelines of a game in 2005. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Andrew has grown up and is now a middle school teacher at St. Dominic Academy, but he continued to be a source of pride to his dad.

“Both of us were fathers of an only child, and I know from our many hours of conversation that Randy could not have been prouder of his son, Andrew,” Kalle Oakes, who worked alongside Randy on the Sun Journal sports staff for about 15 years, said. 

Whitehouse started as a freelance writer for the Sun Journal before being hired as a news reporter in 1996. He once said that the proudest moment of his journalism career came while covering the ice storm of 1998 when he convinced his editors to run a photo of Vice President Al Gore picking up a downed power line. 

“What a lot of people don’t remember is that Randy wasn’t always a sports writer,” LaFlamme said. “When he and I were first starting out at the paper, we both were freelancers doing a little bit of everything. Randy covered the cop beat a lot back then during my days off. He didn’t like it, but he was great at it. In fact, he broke so many big stories while I was off, it remained kind of an ongoing joke between us decades later.” 

But Whitehouse, who grew up in the Bridgton and Naples area and attended Lake Region High School and then Castleton University in Vermont, wanted to cover sports, and he joined the Sun Journal’s sports staff in May 1999. 

Vice President Al Gore and Auburn Assistant City Administrator Mark Adams grab a power line when Gore came to Maine to inspect the damage from the Ice Storm on Feb. 10, 1998. Before he covered sports, Randy Whitehouse was a news reporter and was proud that he convinced the Sun Journal’s editors to run this photo. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

For the next 20-plus years — which included a stint at the Kennebec Journal from August 2014 to when he returned to the Sun Journal in September 2016 — he became one of the most trusted and respected voices in Maine sports. Readers, athletes, coaches, athletic directors and his fellow sports journalists knew Whitehouse could be counted on to cover sports with much excellence and little ego. He combined skilled writing and reporting with an ability to capture the humanity and personality of the subjects of his stories. 

“Randy was a friend, a colleague and one hell of a writer,” said Justin Pelletier, former sports editor at the Sun Journal and Boston Herald who is now a deputy regional sports editor for McClatchy in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Working with him for nearly two decades was something special. He was quick with his wit, sharp with his words and one of the easiest-to-edit deadline writers I’ve worked with. His knowledge of, passion for and dedication to Central and Western Maine sports was unparalleled.” 

Whitehouse was private and humble and put little stock into awards, but he still earned many, including earlier this year when he received an Associated Press Sports Editors top 10 award in the difficult features category. 

“Randy was at all times self-deprecating and reluctant to talk about himself, which I think are two things you don’t generally find with sincerity in our business,” Oakes, who currently is the sports editor at the Georgetown News-Graphic in Kentucky, said. “Those qualities are what made him a beloved and respected figure in the community, because he was all about the athletes, coaches and administrators about whom he wrote.” 

Randy’s dry sense of humor was well-known. It was often featured in his “Huddle Up” columns, and was even more prevalent when he was among his friends and co-workers. Even the person on the receiving end of his sarcasm felt like they were in on the joke. 

“Those who could call him a friend were fortunate in so many ways,” Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel and Times Record sports editor Bill Stewart said. “I will miss his dry sense of humor and sharp wits — both unmatched — which resonated with those around him.” 

“Randy had that special gift,” Oakes said, “of being hilarious either without realizing it or without having the need to laugh at his own one-liners. He could make me laugh until my stomach and my face hurt.” 

Several co-workers, friends and acquaintances have noted and lamented the void left by Whitehouse’s death. 

“I always called him ‘hulking and surly Randy Whitehouse,’ and he was both of those things on occasion, but he was also incredibly kind and wise about so many things,” LaFlamme said. I considered him one of my very best friends — a friend who helped to get me through some dark periods. He was just an immensely generous and interesting character, kind of a once-in-a-lifetime buddy. He was the very first person I’d turn to if I had some aggravation at work or some observation about the world that I needed to get off my chest. His loss is immeasurable.”

“Those of us who knew him,” Pelletier said, “or who crossed paths with him on a regular basis, are far better off for having done so. I will miss him.”

Sun Journal sports reporters Kal Oakes, Randy Whitehouse and Kevin Mills watch the action during the 2009 Class A Eastern Maine boys basketball championship in which Edward Little defeated Lawrence. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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