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Beloved rogue Ypsilanti Township turkey mourned, laid to rest

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The community of Ypsilanti buries and celebrates its fallen and beloved “Whittaker, the Rogue Ypsi Turkey” that inhabited a busy intersection for months before being killed last week.
Detroit Free Press

Whittaker, a wild turkey who captured the hearts of residents in Ypsilanti Township, was laid to rest Thursday night on the street corner he called home. 

The stubborn bird had pecked at car tires, chased walkers and boldly strutted in between vehicles at Textile and Whittaker, irritating some passersby but delighting many others. He was perhaps the township’s most popular resident before being struck by a car July 3. 

About three dozen people gathered at the Ypsilanti Township offices for a memorial ceremony. It concluded with the burial of Whittaker’s ashes near the intersection. 

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Resident Larry Hoxey, 54, said Whittaker and the joy he generated were gifts from God. 

“We hope and pray that this gift that has been given to us will not be forgotten,” he said. 

The turkey appeared late last year. Township resident Kim Gray, 48, started a Facebook page for Whittaker that, over time, grew to more than 5,500 followers. 

As at any funeral service, tears flowed as people shared fond memories and funny stories. 

Robert Dills, 78, said whenever he left his house to get his mail, the bird followed him through his front yard across the street to his mailbox.

“It was really delightful to see him,” he said. 

Several people remarked that Whittaker united the community. 

Watch community members share personal stories of Whittaker the turkey

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Ypsilanti Township celebrated its fallen beloved “Whittaker, the Rogue Ypsi Turkey” that inhabited a busy intersection for months before being killed last week.
Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press

“At a time when it seems like lots of us are divided in this country, and we’re getting more and more disconnected from each other, its really heartening to see so many people come together,” said Wendy Welch, communications director for the Humane Society of Huron Valley. 

The humane society, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and individual residents tried to capture Whittaker so he could be moved to a safer home. But he outfoxed them all. 

After Whittiaker was struck by a vehicle, he was taken to the humane society, where he had to be euthanized.

Residents donated $500 to the humane society in Whittaker’s honor. The money will be used to help other animals and to buy a brick paver that will sit in front of the shelter. It will say “Whittaker” with the inscription: 

“Ypsi turkey, no left turns, media celeb, loved and adored. Fly high, Whit.”

Contact staff writer Ann Zaniewski at 313-222-6594 or azaniewski@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski. 

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FLASHBACK VIDEO: Edna Geisler, 69, of Commerce Township gave the name Godzilla to the wild turkey that has been terrorizing her at her home in March 2013.
Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press

 

 

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