Barbara Gerrard White
March 23, 1927 – August 25, 2020
Barbara Ann Gerrard White left this earthly life on August 25, 2020. She was the daughter of John Bunyan Gerrard and Barbara Fisher Gerrard, owners of a small general store that primarily served the African American community in the small whistle-stop of Bentonia, Mississippi where they also ran a boarding house. That boarding house was where JP White, brakeman on the Illinois Central Railroad, first saw the “stuck-up little girl” on her two-wheel bicycle. He was 20, she was 14 and just knew she was as talented as Shirley Temple. She had a beautiful soprano voice, played the piano, and a little later she danced with all the servicemen at the nearby USO Clubs. When JP returned to railroading after serving in the Pacific during World War II, that little girl had grown up.
After an on and off romance they married on August 20, 1948 and made their home in Jackson, MS. Five children were born between 1950 and 1960. Life was centered in the neighborhood and the Baptist Church where Barbara was the “go to” soloist for funerals, weddings, and special events. Like the Wife of Noble Character in Proverbs 31, Barbara’s hands did not know idleness. Up and dressed long before daylight, she was the daily disciplinarian for a house of rambunctious kids while JP was on the railroad. It was tight seating around the long narrow kitchen table, but there was always room for one more if you ate fresh vegetables. When the children were small, Barbara taught Sunday School and kindergarten at Robinson Street Baptist Church. When they grew bigger, she supplemented the family income by teaching home economics at Provine High School, then Wingfield High School in south Jackson.
The house was a Better Homes and Gardens nightmare. The backyard always looked like a baseball diamond where all the neighborhood children played. The front door was never locked because it had no lock. No one ever rang the doorbell, they just walked in. The living room was set up for ping pong tournaments, television, rock and roll stereo, and courtships. JP and Barbara had a working principle: “You want it; you pay for it. If you can pay for it, you can have it.” That included pets, extra clothing, bicycles, guitars, drums, motorcycles, and cars. As each teenager purchased their own car, the front yard gradually took on the appearance of a paved used car lot.
True to form, the three boys all grew up to be pastors. The oldest daughter became a public-school math teacher. All four earned advanced degrees. But Barbara’s proudest accomplishment was her youngest special needs daughter, Laura, who survived infancy by Barbara’s force of will. She fought an uphill battle for Laura’s life and education. Reading a magazine article, Barbara finally identified a little-known diagnosis for Laura’s birth condition.
Prader-Willi Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder fraught with very special life needs. That discovery began another difficult uphill journey that culminated at the Fernwood Group Home on the campus of North Mississippi Regional Center near the campus of The University of Mississippi. Literally, until the day she left this earthly life, Barbara’s eyes lit-up for Laura’s daily phone call to report on her fulfilled life: Barbara Ann Gerrard White’s greatest accomplishment.
Upon retirement Barbara and JP moved to her dream house in the Cascades neighborhood of Clinton, MS. They enjoyed years of singing together in the Parkway Baptist Church senior adult choir, some travel with church friends, gardening, fishing, and relaxation. After JP’s death in 2011, Barbara moved to Gateway Gardens Assisted Living in Marble Falls, TX. Her family is forever grateful to the loving staff who cared for her the final nine years of her life; especially Nurse Viola Chapman and Director Amber Cox under the most difficult pandemic circumstances of Covid-19. A very special thank you to her private caregivers the final months of her life: Lori Bingham, Lisa Wilson, and Rose Jones.
Barbara is survived by all five of her children: Rev. John Purser White, Jr. and Patricia of Horseshoe Bay, TX; Phyllis Sandoval and Paulino of Corpus Christi, TX; Rev. Howard Gerrard White and Rev. Lynn Meadows White of Columbus, GA; Rev. Dr. Carl Marcus White and Frances of Meridian, MS; Laura White of Oxford, MS; 8 grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren. All of her descendants gathered in Texas for her 90th Birthday Celebration in 2017.
There will be a graveside White Family Hymn Singing at the Lakewood Memorial Park South in Jackson, MS sometime in the Fall of 2020.
Barbara Gerrard White
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September 14, 2020
I sorry for the all white family loss of yall mother . she all ways came to see laura and ferwood bunch always had a smile on her face when she came see her daughter and friends. I sorry for your loss laura white but someday we will see them again. And how wonderful it will be.
August 31, 2020
Barbara will always be remembered as our quick-witted southern belle at Gateway. Through the years all of us grew so very fond of Barbara and her family. I will cherish the memories I have of playing dominoes with her and listen to her tales of the general store she ran with her mom and dad. You will forever be loved and missed.
August 30, 2020
Barbara was one of the first residents to welcome me as the program director at gateway gardens. I loved hearing her play the piano and singing old hymns with her. I could always count on her smiling, positive presence at all of the activities. I am so blessed having known her and her wonderful family for the past 7 years. She will never be forgotten!!!