Michael White

Date(s) of birth and/or death approximate

Date of Birth

January 1st, 1930

Date of Death

January 1st, 2017

Memorial Meeting

Berkeley Monthly Meeting

Minute

We celebrate Michael’s life in the manner of Friends, with a silent Meeting for Worship, in which anyone who feels prompted will speak out of the silence. Please stand up and speak loudly, so all can hear, and leave some silence for contemplation before the next message.

Michael White was the 12th of 14 children born to Ben and Mary White in Chicago in 1930.

He put his age up to join the Army Air Corps when he was about 15 and immediately regretted it, but his family would not assist him in getting out of it. He ended up contracting tuberculosis while in the service and lived in a Veterans Administration hospital, receiving experimental treatments for 4 years. That is where he met Lyn, who was a student nurse doing her externship at the hospital at the time. They dated and later married in secret while he was still a patient there.

The marriage of Mike to Lyn went in the face of social convention of that period. That did not bother Mike in the slightest. He opposed conventions and laws that his conscience told him were not true to the real human condition. His military service, during the Korean War, exposed him to the lack of freedom and the cowardice in the Land of the Free and the Brave he was supposed to kill for. Later, in civilian life, he found the Quaker faith to most nearly resonate with his experience-based belief in the futility of violence.

He enjoyed skiing, ice skating, camping and, particularly, horseback riding. He was a very skilled rider. He enjoyed football and played it for a while in his youth. He also enjoyed watching horse racing. And he loved poker.

After leaving the military and VA hospital, he studied at the Chicago Art Institute. He was a lover of wildlife and was the artist who created the paintings for the weekly introduction scenes of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

He owned a successful advertising agency in Chicago, Mike White & Associates, during the mid-1960s to mid 1970s. He was an award winning advertiser who held ad accounts with McDonalds, Illinois Bell, Alberto-Culver, Motorola, etc. He was very involved with the civil rights movement, marched with Martin Luther King Jr., and worked with Jesse Jackson in Chicago where he produced promotional materials and campaigns for Operation PUSH. He joined Markmakers, Inc. as Senior Art Director in 1975 but soon restarted his own business – focusing on the design and construction of promotional displays for the Taylor Winery, Adler Planetarium, Abbott Pharmaceuticals, etc. After relocating to northern California his company eventually focused on promotional and creative photography, which was his true passion.

He became involved with Reevaluation Counseling (RC) in the early 1970s. He began teaching RC theory and peer counseling and was appointed by Harvey Jackins as the International Black Liberation Reference Person for the organization, a post that he held for ten years or so. He wrote articles on theory which were frequently published in RC literature. He also traveled throughout the United States, Canada and Europe where he led RC workshops. His main emphasis was in the Elimination of Racism and he expanded and perfected Jackins’ “Golden Circle” demonstrations, which were extremely effective in provoking awareness of racism and racial attitudes, but also opened dialogues between various groups of people that society often pits against one another. These dialogues allowed people to see one another as individuals, form lasting connections with each other as allies, and commit to taking what they learned back to their communities to make a difference in the world. It was in this capacity that he began leading workshops for Native Americans on various reservations particularly in Canada. The emphasis of those workshops was to teach skills in Eliminating Racism and self empowerment. He taught an ongoing class in RC locally every Wednesday for well over 30 years.

In 1980 he traveled to Madrid as a delegate to the Helsinki Human Rights Committee conference, which was a great honor to him. Having struggled with alcoholism as a young man, he became sober after joining AA and remained an active participant and dedicated sponsor for the remainder of his life.

Berkeley Friends Meeting had the good fortune of having Michael as a longtime attender. He regularly attended with Lyn, even when health made it difficult. He gave vocal ministry in his distinctive voice, and all present felt its profundity.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992 but continued to work as a photographer, RC teacher and Little League baseball coach. He was an amazing father – extremely dedicated to his family. He personally cared for his wife for nearly 5 years after she had suffered from a debilitating stroke and, later, Alzheimers. No matter how painful this was for him, he loved her and was dedicated to caring for her.

He passed away quietly at home being cared for by family and friends. He is survived by two daughters (Nancy and April), one son (Mark), four grandsons (Brandon, Julian, Justin and Benjamin) and two great grand children – a girl and a boy – (Shayla and Brandon Jr.).