Vincent A. Whelan was born in O'Neill, Nebraska, on February 18, 1904. He attended grammar and high school in Nebraska, as well as Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha. In 1920, his attorney father, Captain E. H. Whelan, moved the Whelan family to San Diego. Although Vincent Whelan never attended college or law school, he studied his father's law books, passed the State Bar examination in April 1928, and entered practice with his father. He served as assistant counsel for the Union Title Insurance Company until 1931. He would continue his primarily civil practice until his appointment to the bench in 1959. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Conference of State Bar Delegates from 1936 to 1940. In 1940, he was appointed chairman of the Selective Service Appeals Board for San Diego and Imperial Counties during World War II. From 1950 to 1956, he served as chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee. On September 18, 1959, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr. appointed him to the San Diego County Superior Court. He served as Presiding Judge of that court in 1963 and 1964. On March 19, 1965, the Governor appointed him as an Associate Justice for the Fourth District Court of Appeal. He took the oath of office three days later. Justices Whelan, Brown and Coughlin were the last justices to hear cases for the entire Fourth District. Almost a decade later, Justice Whelan retired on February 14, 1975. During retirement, he often sat on the Court by temporary assignment. He died on March 8, 1979.