Screven Watson, a Tallahassee political adviser and former party executive director, said his father-in-law died Saturday at his home in Panama City, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The liberal Whitehead, who ran a car dealership in Panama City, led the state's Democratic Party in the 1980s when it enjoyed a run of power and returned to the post in 1999 in an effort to revitalize the flagging party.
"He wasn't just a Democrat or a Republican. He was a Floridian -- Mr. Integrity," said Bob Butterworth, a former four-term state attorney general. "He considered his role as party chairman to be a public service. He did it with dignity, grace and professionalism and he made you feel good to be in public service."
Whitehead is survived by Betty Feagle, his companion of more than 30 years, the Times said.