Mr. White attended Kingsport City Schools and graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1941. During his high school years, Bob was elected President of both the Junior and Senior classes and was inducted into the National Honor Society. Bob was a talented musician and played clarinet in the Dobyns-Bennett band beginning in the fourth grade. As a high school senior, he was given the Senior Music Award.
After graduating from D-B, Mr. White attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VA Tech) as a mechanical engineering student. Shortly thereafter, he received an appointment to the US Naval Academy by Congressman B. Carroll Reece and ultimately graduated with the wartime Class of 1946. He served as Ensign on the USS Bataan and the USS Midway at the end of WWII.
Mr. White first became employed at Tennessee Eastman Company in 1949 and was assigned to the fibers division. When the Korean War began, he received Navy orders to report for active duty as Aide and Flag Lieutenant for RADM Burton B. Biggs. He continued service with RADM Biggs to Tokyo, Japan after stops in Pearl Harbor and Wake Island. He had extended duties in Japan, Korea, and many different ships in the US Pacific fleet for the next two years.
In 1953, Bob’s fiancée, Mary Louise Guillet, flew from Toronto, Ontario to Honolulu, Hawaii to be married. They resided in Waikiki for almost seven months before Bob was discharged from the Navy. The couple returned home to Kingsport, where Bob resumed work at Eastman until his retirement as Manager of Warehousing Operations in 1984.
Mr. White was active in the Boy Scouts of America throughout his life. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1939 and led multiple scout troops through 1984. He took his troops to extraordinary places such as the 13th World Jamboree in Japan in 1971. Other destinations include the Everglades and the Florida Keys for snorkeling, the national Boy Scout Jamboree in Butler, Pennsylvania, a Caribbean windjammer cruise, Cliff Dwellings and Carlsbad Caverns, and twice to the Grand Canyon and Philmont Scout Camp. Over 65 young men received the Eagle Award under his leadership. In 1983, Mr. White received the Silver Beaver Award, the highest award given in scouting, for his many years of service. Mr. White also served as Chairman of the Boy Scout Warrior’s Path District and was a member of the Sequoyah Council Executive Board.
Mr. White became involved in several civic organizations. He joined the Kingsport Jaycees in 1949, the Kiwanis Club in 1950 and was President of the Kiwanis Club in 1968. Bob received the Kingsport Times-News “Citizen of the Year” in 1980. He joined the Kingsport Rotary Club in 1982 and was Chairman in 1986 when he published a book on the history of Kingsport. He resigned from the Rotary Club in 1997.
Bob and Mary Lou traveled extensively with their children and during retirement, enjoying the summer months at the family cottage on Stoney Lake in Ontario. Mary Lou passed away from cancer in 2006.
They are survived by daughter Betsy White Parker (Tom) of Kingsport, Robert Burton White (Nancy) of Kernersville, NC, and Melinda White Fisher (Kyle) of Indianapolis, Indiana. Loving grandchildren include Rorie Parker, Heidi Parker Sissa, Liesl Parker Johnson, Chelsea Parker Slemmer, Kelley Parker, and Bonnie Parker Graff; Robert and Emily White; and Drew, Ben, and Claire Fisher.
The family is particularly grateful to Mr. White’s longtime caregiver, Ms. Sharon Hopkins, for her faithful and loving care of our father. We are also grateful for his additional caregivers for their kindness and compassion, most recently Angie Killen and Tonya Ingram.
Services will be held at a later date due to the pandemic. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Boy Scouts of America or First Presbyterian Church, 100 West Church Circle, Kingsport, TN 37660.