Richard Leon White peacefully passed away on January 3, 2023 at the age of 93, just four days shy of his 94th birthday.
Richard was born on January 7, 1929 to parents John Alva White and Nettie Tibbets White. He grew up on the family farm in Grant County, Oklahoma with his sisters Phyllis, Genevieve, and Maxine, and his younger brother Glen. Richard attended country schools through 8th grade, and he finished strong by being named the 8th grade salutatorian of Grant County (or so he claimed, and who is left to dispute it?). He then attended Caldwell High School and graduated from there in 1947. He went on to attend Kansas State University and was a member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, and he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business in 1951. He was a lifetime Wildcat and an avid K-State sports fan, and he watched with pride as two successive generations of his family followed in his footsteps as Wildcats.
During his time at K-State, Richard stayed home one fall semester to help his dad sow wheat, and it was during this time that he met a cute Caldwell High School coed named Norma Fast, popcorn girl at the Ritz Theatre. They began dating and continued to do so as he returned to K-State, and then married on October 19, 1952 at the Caldwell United Methodist Church, where they remained members.
After college, Richard had a brief stint working at Boeing in Wichita, but his heart was in farming. So, in the summer of 1953 Richard and Norma returned to the Caldwell area to farm. He loved farming, mostly raising wheat and cattle, and for most of that time he did it in partnership with his brother Glen, until his retirement from farming in 1998. In addition to farming, Richard invested himself heavily in the Caldwell community, getting involved in many local organizations, including being a board member of USD 360, Farmers’ Coop, Caldwell United Methodist Church, Futures Unlimited, and the Stock Exchange Bank, and being president of the Caldwell Lions Club, Historical Society, and Chamber of Commerce.
Richard loved and took great pride in his family. He and Norma were married 70 years and had three children: Debbie, who passed away in 1998, Brian, and Kristi. He had six grandchildren: Erin, Jordan, and Haley from Brian and his wife Michelle, and Cameron, Liz, and Jaclyn from Kristi and her husband Jeff. He had three great grandsons: Charlie, Leo, and Jack. When his first great grandson, Charlie, was born in 2020, Richard famously said that Charlie was the best thing to ever happen to this family – much to the jaw-dropping chagrin of his children and grandchildren.
Richard loved wildlife and all animals. He especially loved horses. He always had a horse of his own or was providing pasture for someone else’s horse. The only time he didn’t have a horse was when he had to sell his horse for $50 to pay the bill to bring Debbie home from the hospital as a baby.
Richard was a lifelong sportsman and loved hunting and fishing. He had a special connection to fish, and was rarely out-fished. His son-in-law Jeff out-fished him once, and Richard swore he would never take him fishing again. Richard especially loved his annual trips to Gunnison, Colorado, fishing for trout on the Taylor River. A 3+ pound brown trout he pulled out of that river has adorned the wall of the White family home for over five decades (although it’s not quite as big as the other brown trout on that wall, caught by his son, who, full disclosure, is the one writing this obituary). He enjoyed fishing alone, and with a cadre of others: his brother Glen, his friends, the Fast outfit, his son, his son-in-law, and his grandchildren.
Richard loved to cook the spoils of his hunting and fishing endeavors. He and Glen were especially proud of their fish frying, and sincerely believed no one could match their fish frying prowess. They demanded constant praise while eating the fish they fried, and were offended if the praise was not deemed glowing enough. They would occasionally admit that Brian and Jeff could do a decent job frying fish, but only begrudgingly. Richard loved food and drink in general, especially in the company of friends and family. Many great times, stories, and laughs were shared over a Weller and Squirt. Or two. (Or three.)
In his later years, Richard really enjoyed evening drives in the country looking for deer with Norma, his sister-in-law Kim (the driver), and until his death in 2017, his brother Glen. Some evenings featured over 100 deer, and included countless epic sunsets.
Richard had a great life and made a positive impact on many, many people. He was a person that many loved to be around, and people felt accepted and at ease in his presence. His humor, positivity, and welcoming demeanor were acknowledged and appreciated by all he met. He will be greatly missed, but the people in his life were left better by his presence. What better measure of a life?
The family will host a celebration of Richard’s life on Saturday, January 14 from 4:30-7:00pm at Sugar Sisters in Caldwell, featuring drinks and hors d'oeuvres, and a short memorial service at 5:00pm.
Memorials may be made to the Caldwell Historical Society or to the Caldwell Hospital and sent in care of the mortuary.