Walter Eugene White, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend lost his valiant battle with heart and kidney disease on Sunday morning, January 19, 2020 at St. Luke’s hospital in Boise, Idaho.
Walt was born on September 11,1939 in East Springfield, Ohio to Wilda Gladys White and William H. Somerville. He was raised by his beloved Grandma Amanda and Grandpa Sam White on their farm in Wintersville, Ohio, and told his family great stories about growing up on their farm, playing with cousins, chasing lightning bugs, feeding his pet groundhog Polly under the table, growing everything under the sun and listening to baseball on the radio. This was the foundation for a lifelong love of animals, growing things and sports.
Grandma Amanda recognized that he had a brilliant mind and a photographic memory, so she taught him to read when he was two, helped him overcome polio, and taught him the importance of learning everything he could and being kind to everyone he met.
When she passed away in 1955, he went to live and work with Joe and Betty Rozsa, a family who was very dear to him. Upon graduation from Wintersville High, he was awarded a full ride scholarship to Bowling Green University in Ohio, but he chose to serve his country first.
He enlisted in the United States Air Force and was chosen to join an elite group as a cryptologist. This position afforded him the chance to travel all over the world. Never one to miss an opportunity, Walt climbed Mt. Fuji, blended in with the locals in Turkey, jumped out of airplanes and surfed in Hawaii, scaled the Matterhorn and rode his motorcycle all across Europe. He loved serving his country and was a proud veteran for the rest of his life.
After he finished his time in the service, he moved to Logan, Utah to attend Utah State University. He originally majored in Veterinary Science, but he fell in love with Deaf education and was awarded a fellowship in Communicative Disorders. He was awarded his Bachelor’s Degree and married the love of his life, Julianne Steed, a week later on June 10, 1966 in the Logan LDS Temple. They continued to live in Logan for two more years while he finished his dual Master’s Degrees in Audiology and Speech Pathology.
He and Julianne welcomed their daughter, Sharlyn, and moved to Gooding, Idaho in 1968 so he could work at the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind, where he worked for 33 years until his retirement in 2001. He loved working with Deaf and Blind children, and influenced innumerable lives as an audiologist, teacher, coach, computer specialist and friend.
Walt and Julianne welcomed three more children-Matt, Rebecca and Amanda and Walt was a patient, dedicated and hilarious father. No one could parent like Dad. He told the best stories, cooked the best food and always made us laugh.
He was a passionate believer in serving his community. He was a lifelong member of the Lion’s Club, and loved working with his fellow Lions to improve lives of people around the world. The Lion’s Club International Foundation honored him with the Melvin Jones Fellow for Dedicated Humanitarian Services Award.
He served for decades as an assistant Scoutmaster for Gooding BSA Troop 33, and spent years camping, cooking and training young men, something he loved doing. He received the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America for his dedicated service.
He spent 23 summers with his family at Bradley Boy Scout Camp in Stanley, Idaho, and made lifelong friendships, fantastic memories and bandaged more woodcarving mishaps that anyone could count.
He was a volunteer paramedic, and a member of the Gooding Idaho Grange, where he was honored as the Gooding Grange Citizen of the Year. He was also a Master Gardener.
His greatest achievements weren’t awards or degrees. His family, many friends and loved ones knew Walt as one of the most kind, humble and hardworking men we’ve ever been privileged to know.
His sense of humor is legendary. Everyone who knew him has a “Walt Story.” No one could grow a garden like he could, and he loved sharing the fruits of his efforts. He was the “King of the Dutch Oven”, and took great joy in baking perfect loaves of bread to give to family, friends and neighbors. He loved animals, and always had at least two dogs, a dozen squirrels and hundreds of birds waiting for breakfast in his yard every morning.
He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and served the church in many capacities. He loved the community of Gooding, and his many friends that he made there.
He is survived by his sweetheart of 53 years, Julianne, and his children Sharlyn (Tom) Jackson of Gooding, Idaho, Matthew (Cari) White of Hyrum, Utah, Rebecca (Andrew) Jensen of Meridian, Idaho, and Amanda (Jade) Barton of Nampa, Idaho, and 11 grandchildren: Rachel, Genevieve and Bailey Jackson, Abby, Alec and Nathan White, Leah and Zachary Jensen, and Justin, Katie and Emma Barton, and sisters Flora Penn and Mary Somerville, and brother Larry Jones.
We will be celebrating his life with a viewing held at the Demaray Funeral Home on 737 Main Street, Gooding Idaho on Thursday, January 23 from 4-7 pm.
Funeral Services will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Chapel on 1228 South Main Street, Gooding, ID on Friday, January 24 at 11:00 am, with a viewing prior to the service from 10:00 to 10:45. Funeral services will conclude at the Church.
A lifelong fan of baseball, Walt’s dying request was that the Atlanta Braves baseball team would serve as his pallbearers so they could let him down one last time. We’re still waiting on confirmation from the team.
We love you Dad. Until we meet again.
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