GADSDEN, AL (WBRC) -When Ed Whatley retired, he didn’t go fishing as much as hiking. And that will be his legacy.
The man who will be remembered for his role in developing the Black Creek Trail System near Noccalula Falls park died Sunday after a bout with stomach cancer. Ed Whatley was 75.
Whatley worked for years as an inspector with the USDA. But his home on Lookout Mountain was adjacent to Noccalula Falls park. Greater Gadsden Area Tourism director Hugh Stump says Whatley could start hiking the trails from his own backyard.
The city of Gadsden’s Parks and Recreation Department developed the Black Creek Trail, which runs from Noccalula Falls to Black Creek Road and was dedicated in 2011. But Whatley is credited with the trails that connect to it.
"But Ed had been showing us around since 2009, trails that were all up and down in there that mountain bikers were using, people on horses, ATVers, just walking and that kind of thing, but just no development," Stump recalls. "But he really pushed to get those trails developed."
One of those trails now bears Whatley's name.
Whatley made numerous friends because of the trail system. Stump recalls Whatley at first didn't like mountain bikers much because he felt they damaged the trail system. But Whatley's open mindedness prompted him to get to know those mountain bikers and change his mind completely, welcoming them with open arms.
Funeral services for Ed Whatley will be held Thursday, January 10, at 1 p.m. at Crestwood Funeral Home in East Gadsden. Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. also at Crestwood.