John A. Whereat, 55, sculptor

"Spirits Having Flown," the sculpture that John Whereat donated to Friends' Central School, his alma mater in Wynnewood. The piece memorialized deceased members of the Class of 1976.
"Spirits Having Flown," the sculpture that John Whereat donated to Friends' Central School, his alma mater in Wynnewood. The piece memorialized deceased members of the Class of 1976.
Posted: October 14, 2013

A memorial will be held Saturday, Oct. 19, for John A. Whereat, 55, a longtime Philadelphia sculptor, who died Saturday, Aug. 31, of heart failure at his home in Roxborough.

The memorial is planned for 10 a.m. at the Radnor Friends Meeting House, Conestoga and Sproul Roads, his family announced last week.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Narberth, Mr. Whereat earned a bachelor's degree and, later, a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Pennsylvania. The bulk of his work, done in a garage on Spring Lane, is in private collections along the East Coast.

"When I graduated from Penn, my father asked me, 'How are you going to make money?' I said, 'Well, I'll just have to be creative,' " Mr. Whereat told the Roxborough Review in 2012.

Mr. Whereat worked in construction, carpentry, and plumbing while pursuing his dream of becoming a sculptor. He also taught at the University of the Arts, Abington Art Center, and Community College of Philadelphia, he told the Review.

"Everyone should do what they know they should do," he told the Review. "The payoff is not always monetary, but it is intellectual and emotional."

Mr. Whereat made the news in 2012 when he donated a piece of sculpture, Spirits Having Flown, to Friends' Central School, his alma mater in Wynnewood. The piece memorialized deceased members of the Class of 1976.

The idea for the donated sculpture came during the 35th reunion. The petal-like shapes were based on a concept he had been developing since the 1980s.

"Some classmates hadn't made it that far," Mr. Whereat told the Review. "So my friend, who is a lawyer, talked me into making a sculpture that was not just a donation, but also a memorial to our late classmates."

Mr. Whereat's career spanned three decades. Among his creations were a bas relief of the chemist and philanthropist F. Otto Haas in Stiteler Hall on the Penn campus, and a scientifically accurate sundial for the Presbyterian Historical Society in Old City.

A student of the bronze sculptor Anthony Frudakis, Mr. Whereat was willing to nurture the talent of others, his family said in a statement. At the time of his death, he was arranging gallery shows for two aspiring artists.

Surviving are his wife, Kathleen Agricoli; his father, Arthur; a brother; and a sister.

Contributions may be made to the Betty Whereat Scholarship Fund, Friends' Central School, 1101 City Ave., Wynnewood, Pa. 19096.


bcook@phillynews.com

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