OBITUARY

Willmon L. White

March 10, 1932June 1, 2021

Willmon L. White, of Evanston, IL, died peacefully on June 1st at the age of 89, with his family at his side. Will lived a long life filled with family, discovery and humor. He was born on March 10, 1932 on a farm near Lamesa, Texas in the heart of the Dust Bowl. He was a graduate and distinguished alumnus of McMurry University in Abilene and earned his Master’s in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 1956. Will had a successful career as a journalist, writer, and editor, serving as editor for Together magazine, as well as The Christian Advocate of the United Methodist Church before becoming senior editor at World Book Encyclopedia in Chicago in 1970 where he produced expanded entries on the moon and space travel shortly after the U.S. moon landing. He joined Rotary International in Evanston in 1974, first in the role of editor and then as editor-in-chief of the international magazine, The Rotarian, until his retirement in 2000. His work, which took him to more than 60 countries, encompassed everything from interviewing courageous icons like Mother Teresa and Jesse Owens to reporting on Rotary’s global effort to eradicate polio. Will also served as manager of communications, associate general secretary, and general manager of the Rotary Foundation, and creator and manager of the Rotary archives. He was the primary editor of Rotary’s centennial history, published in 2005, and assisted with the 100-year history of the Rotary Foundation, published in 2015.

In his 70’s, Will took up motorcycle touring and found delight journeying through 15 states visiting family, and attending his 50th college reunion in Texas. Will was also a noted collector of jazz music, and was considered an important collector of the music of the late Dave Brubeck. Over the years, Will donated much of his collection to the Dave Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. In addition to these hobbies, Will had a passion for fishing, vinyl records, road-tripping with family, all things Texas, and crafting the perfect joke (no matter how many times it took).

Will is survived by his wife, Barbara, his children, Monica Wrenn (Rick), Lou (Margaret), Bob (Lucie), Theresa (Matt), stepdaughter Kiera (Ed), brother Ron (Susan), former wife Carol, 13 loving grandchildren and countless extended family and friends. He is predeceased by his eldest son Tracy and his brother Dwain. He will be remembered for his legendary storytelling, his contagious laughter, and his endless fascination with the human condition. We will miss him with all our hearts and be forever grateful for his legacy.

A visitation to commemorate his life will be held on Saturday, July 10th at 2:30pm followed by a mass at 3:30pm at St. Mary Church, 1012 Lake St, Evanston. In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the Headliners Foundation, Journalism Scholarship Fund in honor of Willmon L. White, and sent to: 221 W. Sixth Street, Suite 2100, Austin, TX 78701 (www.headlinersfoundation.org), or to St. Mary Church.

Services

  • Visitation followed by a Mass

    Saturday, July 10, 2021

  • Visitation followed by Mass

    Saturday, July 10, 2021

Memories

Willmon L. White

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David Nash

July 8, 2021

Here was a very thoughtful and multifaceted guy who often spoke from his heart which is rare for a gentleman from the south from which he came. I saw him as a kindred spirit as we obsessed over records, music and the love of our respective families. I remember him not only as one of the best story tellers, but also one of the best listeners. He intrigued the heck out of me, plus he was a nonconformist which was another trait I loved. I would get a kick out of him walking around in his motorcycle helmet. What a character! The guy really was something and I know I'm not the only one who appreciated his quirkiness. There was often a lot of smiling and laughing when I was with him. So glad to have those memories as I will very much miss him. Blessings to Barbara, the children and grandchildren.

Charles Pratt

July 8, 2021

Way back in 1974, Will White, noted editor and humorist, took a chance and hired a graduate student with limited journalism experience as an assistant editor at The Rotarian magazine. I was that grad student, and I had no idea that my working and personal relationship with Will would last for the next 26 years. His mentoring and guidance helped shape me as a writer, reporter and editor. Over the years, we shared many exciting experiences working for Rotary, including trips to India, Australia, Mexico, Italy and a score of other countries. Fun times! He had a great sense of humor and loved a good joke — and even a few of my bad ones. All through my Rotary career, I followed in his footsteps.
I will forever be grateful for the opportunity Will gave me, and for his generosity, support and friendship over the years. My sympathy to his family.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY