Cover photo for David Witherspoon's Obituary
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1959 David 2023

David Witherspoon

April 12, 1959 — December 30, 2023

Dr. William David Witherspoon, Jr. died of complications from ALS at Season's Hospice in Rochester, Minnesota on December 30, 2023. David was born on April 12, 1959 to Linda Johnson Witherspoon and William David "Billy" Witherspoon in Dillon, South Carolina. He was proceeded in death by his father. David is survived by his wife of 42 years, Louise Atkinson Witherspoon, two daughters, Virginia McIntosh Witherspoon, Gillen Witherspoon Schecter (Aaron), and son, William David Witherspoon, III (Julia). He leaves four grandchildren Louise Atkinson Merritt, Edward James Merritt, William David Witherspoon, IV, and Adeline Rose Witherspoon. He is also survived by his brother Hubert Craig Witherspoon (Fran) and sister Linda Anne Witherspoon Adams (Dent), brothers and sisters-in-law, Robert Edward Atkinson, Jr (Stephanie) and Ernest McIntosh Atkinson (Kelly) as well as ten nieces and nephews and twelve great nieces and nephews.

David loved his family, and after 32 years in the Midwest he delighted in retiring to the Southeast and spending more time with family and friends at the beach and the farm, reuniting with his Conway High School friends, fishing and enjoying the outdoors, and applying his agronomy education to perfecting his yard at the beach and land at the farm. David truly loved entertaining his family and friends at the beach and farm, showing midwestern friends his love for the beach, taking people salt-water fishing, and creating a hunter's paradise at the farm. When watching his grandchildren fish at the farm or learning to swim in the pool at the beach he often said, "this is why I built it." David was the most positive person; he gave thanks to God for the almost ten years that he lived with ALS, never angry about the diagnoses and handling the progression of the illness with grace and never letting it slow him down. David had many hobbies and rode his motorcycle across the country shortly after his diagnosis and retirement. During the last nine years of his life David walked Gillen down the aisle, was Will's best man, and met his four grandchildren. More than once, Virginia overheard him saying to the babies, "I am so glad I got to meet you." Louise was the love of David's life and his true partner, holding down the fort at home with three children while David worked and traveled, and then being by his side every day after his diagnoses and retirement. David and Louise did not let ALS slow them down. Three weeks before his death David and Louise flew to spend the holidays with their Midwest-based children and grandchildren, traveling with oxygen, other required equipment, and their beloved dogs, Bandit and Bruiser.

David had a fulfilling career in agriculture. David earned a PhD in plant breeding and genetics from North Carolina State University. Prior to that he earned his master's degree in agronomy from his beloved Clemson University and graduated with lifelong friends and a degree in biology from the Citadel. The family moved to Marshall, Missouri in 1986 for David to start a research station for Garst Seed Company. While David loved plant breeding, he eventually transitioned to the business side of agriculture, and the family moved to Ankeny, Iowa where David became the Director of Marketing and then President and CEO of Garst Seed Company. After Syngenta acquired Garst, David worked in various roles for Syngenta ending his career as the Head of Renewable Fuels for North America. When he retired, Syngenta gave him the "Energy Award," for his achievements with the company and the passion he was known to bring to the work. David brought excitement and passion to everything he did and he drew his strength and inspiration from his relationship with Jesus Christ.

A memorial service will be held at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church in Kingstree on Saturday, January 13 at 11 AM with Rev. Josie Holler officiating, followed by visitation and a luncheon at Grace Hall. Williamsburg Funeral Home will oversee arrangements. In honor of David's love of hosting people at "Camp David," anyone interested in seeing the farm can join the family there after the luncheon. There will be a roaring fire in the cook shed and tours of the farm. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Williamsburg Presbyterian Church ( or the ALS Association (

Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Witherspoon family. To share a special memory or condolence, please visit

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