Robert Henry Whiter
9 August, 1924 – 7 June, 2021
We are sad to report that Robert ‘Bob’ Whiter passed away on the 7th June 2021 in Santa Clarita California. He was 96. He was born in Bow, East London above the family run public house, the youngest of nine children. The family moved to Wood Green, North London during the Great Depression, opening a shop selling and repairing bicycles and radios. His schooling finished with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Unfortunate, as he was always an avid reader and motivated learner. He helped out with the bicycles, and was first in Air Force and later Army Cadets. At eighteen he joined the regular army, serving in the Corps. of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, repairing weapons as an armourer. Post-war, he ran his own cycle shop and learned the art of bespoke bicycle frame building. Always a bit of a showman, he performed in numerous amateur operetta performances at this time. He co-founded a collectors’ society which celebrated the school and adventure publications of the first half of the century. The London Old Boys Book Club still meets regularly to this day. Classical concerts at the Royal Albert Hall or Ballet at Saddlers Wells, and trips to the Royal Opera House were regular fare. Bob loved Westerns on television and at the cinema. An above average artist, he began to submit illustrations for publications with some success. In 1959 while on a European holiday to Switzerland and Italy he met Marie Valdez, a nurse from California. What began as a holiday romance would result in his relocating to Los Angeles (out West!), 58 years of happily married life, and the birth of four children. They were only parted by Marie’s death from Covid 19 in December last year. All who knew Bob can attest to his dynamic approach to life and the infectious enthusiasm he brought to everything he did and it must be noted that his hobbies and interests were many and varied. He had what seemed a limitless memory. Over his life he collected literally thousands of books and seemed as though he had read and absorbed the contents of them all! He always seemed to be doing something: reading, drawing, painting, repairing, building, planning, polishing, etc. In 1972, he was sought out by a publisher who asked if he could write a book about fixing bicycles. He was uncertain if he could. He wrote it, and did all the illustrations in six weeks during his lunch times and days off. He was on local television and taught classes to help promote the book. The family took a trip to England to recover. Upon his return, he joined the Boy Scouts as an assistant Cub Scout leader to support his son Roger. Scouting would be a dominant activity in the Whiter house for the next forty years. Both Bob and Marie played many roles in the movement and in Girl Scouting as well, as daughters Rosie, Barbara, and Heather were all members. Many will remember Bob as the friendly English repair manager at Safety Cycle Shop on Western. Its Hollywood location brought Bob into contact with celebrity actors and studio technical staff often requiring bikes and prop making assistance. The ever jovial raconteur would send them away not only with a cycle, but also a laugh and with jokes to retell. On two occasions, he was called upon to build bicycles to be ridden by circus bears. Once in England and again in Los Angeles. When the family moved across town to south of Wilshire, the home became increasingly a venue for meetings and hospitality. Visitors from far and wide came, ate, and joined in with the fun and were made welcome. In the 1980’s, Bob’s love of crime stories and Sherlock Holmes was rekindled when he attended an exhibition, and soon after the Knights of Baskerville Hall was formed. They have met ever since to read and celebrate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth and his assistant Watson. Many who read this will have received correspondence from Bob in his unmistakable modified copperplate handwriting and usually containing some artwork by him, not to mention a poem. He was a prodigious penman. He wrote to a young work colleague every month of his tour in Vietnam until his safe return. In later years he researched, wrote and illustrated articles for magazines on topics he loved: military march composers, historical battles, and aeroplanes to name but a few. When the West coast branch of the St. George (English) Society was formed, they asked Bob to join. He was soon the honorary president and designing cards for special annual gatherings.
As a husband and a father Robert Whiter worked hard and promoted a strong sense of family identity. He was also lucky in many ways. He found in wife Marie an amazing supportive partner and friend who supported his many endeavours asking for no praise herself. In the end they lived for each other. They are survived by four married children; Roger, Rosie, Barbara and Heather, and nine grandchildren. Please join with us in celebrating the lives of Bob and Marie Whiter
Tuesday, 13 July , 2021
Tuesday, 13 July , 2021
Tuesday, 13 July , 2021
Robert Henry Whiter
9 July 2021
I am very fortunate to have known Bob and the rest of the family for many wonderful years, as well as 14 years working at Safety Cycle Shop in Hollywood. Bob taught me a great deal on what I know about bicycles and was instrumental in getting me involve with the Cub Scouts and the Boys Scouts. He helped me understand and appreciate classical music, the arts and taught me the history of classical Hollywood cinema. Since the bike shop was located in Hollywood and close to the movie studios, we used to get many movie actors who came into the shop. Bob with his vast knowledge of the cinema was always willing to schmooze with the actors who became his friends. Many of the bicycle clients also dropped in the shop just to say hello. When it came to socializing Bob was great at telling stories, poems, limericks and jokes. He was a walking encyclopedia especially on WWI topics.
I was 19 years old when I first started working with Bob, he molded many of my interests that helped me become who I am today. I am grateful for his mentorship and friendship.
Bob was always willing to tell a joke or two or three to make you laugh while laughing with you.
One of Bob's favorite ~~ There was a young man from Bombay ....
I already started to miss Bob when his annual Christmas cards stopped coming. I remember when he would sit during lunch on his own hand made metal bicycle part stool. He would sit and draw and write his Christmas card. I have saved all the illustrated and wonderful art works to remember him by.
Bob and I have greatly enjoyed special movie showings and stage performances. For example, as an annual summer event Bob, Marie, my wife Cherie and I attended the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Master in Laguna Beach. It was very amazing to watch art come to life right before you eyes.
I will remember Marie as a wonderful considerate woman who was always there for Bob and their children.
Both Bob and Marie are greatly missed.
Eli and Cherie Silberberger
3 July 2021
All over my house there are pieces of Bob Whiter's artwork, a comforting presence in this sad loss. Marie and Bob welcomed me into their "Knights of Baskerville Hall" and into their home for Christmases and many cups of tea for over 30 years. I will sorely miss both of them and I hold the Whiter family in my heart.
30 June 2021
My condolences to Bob's family. Bob and I corresponded for a number of years beginning in the late 1980s regarding the works of Charles Hamilton aka Frank Richards. I always looked forward to Bob's letters that would always be illustrated with his wonderful artwork. Occasionally he'd send me art for my magazine, 'Golden Years'. We shared a number of other interests including 'Modern Boy' annuals and early aircraft. The world was enriched by Bob's deeds and we're all better off for having known him. R.I.P., Bob.
30 June 2021
Bob Whiter was a friend for many years. I live in Canada and on one of my trips to Britain (where he was also visiting the country of his birth), I met up with him in 1992. He was one of the founding members of the Old boys book clubs which discussed the works of the author Frank Richards, and this was the reason for our meeting up. I will never forget us visiting the home of another hobby person Eric Fayne. Both of them had known and met with Frank Richards.
Later I met Bob Whiter again, this time at his home in California and we had a long letter correspondence.
He was a very friendly, positive, generous person...and had a great artistic abilities as well. I give my sympathies to his son Roger, and daughter Barbara and also Rosie and Heather. You have lost a one of a kind father, and now he is going to be in heaven with Frank Richards and other good people.