Early Monday morning I received a call from my mother that my father was in serious condition and that I needed to book the first flight out of Eugene back to San Jose and so I did.
Then roughly an hour later as I sat in the drive-thru of a Carl's Jr getting a quick breakfast when my mother called again, my father was gone. It was all either of us could do to maintain ourselves for that call. What my mother described to me as my father's last hours was sudden and painless - he had essentially passed away at dawn as he slept in from a possible coronary. (My biological grandfather Merle White had also died of a heart attack when he was younger then my father was now in 1960)
I loved my father dearly, I looked up to him as boy and even when I had my own son. My father did almost everything with me; Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, school athletics, church functions, moving me and my wife, and more that I can't think off the top of my head. My father in his quiet and dignified way only had to simply say "I'm proud of you" or "I'm disappointed in you" to command my sense of achievement or when I screwed up. By following him in all that he did I learned how to take pride in any work I did, to work with people friendly or difficult, and how to lead not with flair or flash but by being confident and knowledgeable.
After a 4 year service in the US AirForce and reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant/Technical Sergeant (E5 or E6) he left to work at IBM in San Jose for almost 30 years. Later he would go on to work for Stanford Medical Business Offices for another almost 10 years. My father then retired with my mother and they traveled in the US and Europe. My father also volunteered at the Hiller Aviation Museum and was recognized in 2018 for his service.
My father was flying long before he met my mother (at his hangar no less) and flew his Cessna C37 Airmaster on a regular basis. He and my mother flew to fly-ins, airshows, and general meetups for aviation of all kinds. They flew cross country often, and flew through harrowing moments that often were the end of other pilots. My father even flew the Airmaster back to Wichita with my mom for the rare meet up of the few airworthy Airmasters at Cessna's main plant. My father loved aviation and loved flying. The amount of trophies, placards, and awards he garnered flying the Airmaster was staggering. I was apart of this for most of my childhood - I was taken to fly-ins and airshows and took to aviation though I still have yet to fly myself. I loved being with my father as he ran flying contests for pilots at the Watsonville Airshow and Fly-In and the regular attendance to the Merced Fly-In. Just being out at ReidHillview working on the planes was fun, I still remember all of it.
My father was good friend to many and despite being a quiet and reserved man was never not in conversation at parties or meetups when meeting friends or friendly people. Recently I began to also realize that he was also a father figure, just being himself, to many younger people who knew him. My son loves his "Grandpa" and whenever he visited, my son was with him. My father spent a great amount of time when Harrison was 0-3 taking care of him while my wife and I worked. My father adored and loved Harrison very much.
He was 79, but he looked and acted like he was 65. He kept the house, the yard, the cars/57 Chevy/motorhome, paperwork, his hangar, his plane, all with meticulous care and effort. My father never seemed "old" to me and never appeared incapable in whatever he did.
This is a very short summation of Gary White. There was so much he did, saw, and experienced to fit into a notice. I can't think of anything more my father could have done for me, I can only hope I live to make him proud.
I can't type anymore, I can't hardly see the damned keyboard now.
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