Don White, of Ontario, and formerly of British Columbia and Preeceville, passed away on December 2, 2020.
The Graveside Service will be held in the Preeceville Community Cemetery on Saturday, July 24th at 3:00pm.
After a long, rich, consequential life, Donald Alfred White passed away peacefully at the age of 94 in the veteran’s wing of the Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, December 2nd, 2020.
Born on the homestead in 1926, Don grew up on the Prairies with his parents, Harry and Jennie (Anderson) and younger brother Clinton. His early life was one responsibility and duty; attending school, assisting on the farm and trapping. Don began working for the CN Railroad in 1943 and suspended his job in 1944 to volunteer and serve in the Infantry in the Canadian Army during World War II.
After receiving an honorable discharge from the military in 1946, Don returned to his career with CN and soon moved to Churchill, Manitoba in 1949. It was in Churchill where he met the love of his life, Mary. To quote Don, “Standing on the snow in Churchill, Manitoba, under a brilliant full moon and dancing Northern Lights, Mary’s face was lit with the most beautiful smile. I thought I would never find a more perfect place, so I asked her to marry me and she readily accepted.”
Don and Mary wed January 16, 1951. They went on to raise seven children and remained in Churchill until 1971 when Don transferred to The Pas, Manitoba. After 4 years in The Pas, he transferred to Saskatoon and retired as Manager, Carload Center, with CN Railroad in 1982.
Upon retirement, Don and Mary moved to Kelowna, BC to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather and settled into an active lifestyle. They enjoyed many road trips across the Prairies, the amazing Okanagan orchards and visits from the family. Travels to China, Hong Kong and Hawaii yielded many memories. A van was also purchased and road trips down the Pacific Coast to the Baja Peninsula ensued.
During this time, Don pursued many interests. He was passionate about antiques and refinished numerous pieces of furniture. “Garage Sailing” became a common term in the family to describe the weekend activity of planning garage sale routes and heading out to find hidden treasures to restore to their former glory. His love of history and genealogy came naturally. He was very proud when he received his Metis status and enjoyed tracing his father’s lineage back to his Metis and Scottish roots in Canada.
Mary passed away from cancer in 2006 and her passing left a giant gap in his life. The trips, Garage Sailing, fruit picking and intimate conversations came to an end.
Don kept moving forward, and in 2011, at the age of 85, he moved to Toronto and started a new chapter. His “Bucket List” was not finished and he continued pursuing his interests. He travelled to Newfoundland in 2013 to realize his goal of visiting all the Canadian provinces. In 2014, he travelled back to Churchill with his son (Robert) and grandsons (Andrew & Patrick) as he wanted to see how the North had changed. And, in 2016, at the age of 90, he fulfilled a long held goal by completing the journey between Toronto and Vancouver on Via Rail’s “The Canadian”. A special trip as he had wanted to travel the rail line he last travelled when he was discharged from the army in 1946.
Don loved his family and expressed on many occasions the best times of his life were vacations with his family. With a Silverliner camper (built for 6 but slept 9!) the family camped and explored Western Canada. He had patience, a positive disposition and a ready smile with a twinkle in his eye. He was kind spirited, generous, good humored and always ready to laugh; an optimist who saw the positive side of life and always strived to live to its fullest. From growing up on the Prairies during the Great Depression, he learned the value of dollar, the spirit of community and the importance of generosity. He imparted in his family the courage to stand up for their beliefs and to and to have quiet confidence in themselves. Education was paramount and he and Mary instilled a strong work ethic in all their children and led by example. The following quote exemplifies their teachings;
“What matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.”
Don was predeceased by his wife Mary (2006), daughters Valerie (2011) and Kathryn (2019) and grandson Austin (2020). He is survived by his brother Clinton of Regina (Saskatchewan), loving children Bud (Sandra) of Penticton, Robert (Bonnie) of The Pas, Dennis of Vancouver, Maureen (Bruce) of St. Bruno, Susan (Greg) of Toronto, 13 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren and one great-great grandson.
Don was a Son, Brother, Soldier, Railroader, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Mentor, Genealogist, Furniture Restorer, Adventurer, Humorist, and Friend. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Sunnybrook Veteran’s center for caring for Don in his final days. Special thanks to Joanna Karla DeLeon who helped care for and was a constant companion to Don is his later years, his grandson Austin White who spent 4 weeks nursing him back to health in 2017 and his Granddaughter Shannon McCarthy who faithfully visited him every weekend for the past 7 years.
A celebration of life will be held in Preeceville, Saskatchewan July 24th in the Preeceville Community Cemetery.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Preeceville Funeral Home.