ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Don White. We will remember him forever.

Don was a beacon of joy and levity in our small pocket of LA. Always first to the front of the boat on pelagics, and first to respond with a wry quip and an eternal grin, he was unmistakable in a crowd due to both his jokes and his height. Though most had to look up at Don, he never looked down on anyone. Unpretentious, kind and genuine, his well-meaning nature was compounded by his unflappable BS detector and ability to never take himself too seriously. Don was a regular on many local field trips with LA, Pasadena, and SaMo Bay Audubon Societies in his local stomping grounds along Ballona Creek, Kenneth Hahn SRA and beyond. He was not shy. You probably met and knew him, and likely shared a laugh.

An expert hiker/backpacker, Don was the victim of a tragic, heat-related accident in record temperature highs at Anza Borrego, helping prepare for the annual bighorn sheep count. Ever a committed citizen scientist and nature lover, Don participated in countless hawkwatches, nature surveys at Tejon Ranch and Bear Divide, as well as years of regional Christmas Bird Count efforts, with notable, perennial contributions to a staggering number of count circles: Los Angeles, Palos Verdes, Lancaster, Malibu, Santa Clarita, Grass Mountain, Tejon Ranch, Tehachapi, Bear Valley Springs, San Jacinto and surely others.

Loving husband and father, Don was an avid cyclist, reliably seen wandering the Greater LA area with bike companion and lifelong friend Doug Chamorro. He was a ravenous reader who spontaneously spouted Emily Dickinson poems. He loved food, coffee, and about 50% of Trader Joe's snack offerings. He could always tell you where to find the best Ecuadorian breakfast, or the only place to get Ethiopian coffee at 2am. The world is quite a bit dimmer with his light now gone. He was a gifted storyteller with many yarns spun and adventures endured. One regret we have is that we didn’t get to hear them all.

Don was outlandishly good company, truly one of a kind. Never being one for ceremony or service himself, if you wish to make a contribution in honor of Don, here are some organizations he supported: Friends of California Condors, Tejon Ranch Conservancy, LA Audubon, Pasadena Audubon, Santa Monica Bay Audubon, LABirders.org.

So long, Don (Ovibose), and thanks for all the birds.
Posted by Ann Brooks on November 2, 2021
Hard to say what it was about Don, because it was so many things. I don’t think he ever met a stranger, I felt like I had known him forever when I first met him. He seemed to have an ability to make everyone feel special. And whenever he showed up for a field trip or birdwalk or with Lisa for one of our annual Holiday events, you just knew it would be more fun.
I have enjoyed reading the tributes and looking at the pictures, many of which are so classically Don- although he had height advantage, he was always first to scramble up on anything available to get a better view. Last spring, he tried to show me baby hummingbirds in a nest that were at about chin-level for him- and looked down at me and said, “oh, but you’re not 6-5”. So observant!
And his stories…one of my favorites was hearing about caring for Musk Ox (Ovibos) in Alaska, where it was so cold (“how cold was it, Don?”) that they had to thaw the tires to move the trucks because the tires had frozen flat. Too cold for me!!
His generosity knew no bounds. He’d often tell us about little authentic restaurants and coffee shops he found on his bike while cruising LA. Eric encouraged him to write a guide book, but what he did was write up a two page single space listing of places he thought we might try on our way to/from birding sites or when rooting for UCLA. We haven’t followed up on his list, but maybe we will honor his memory and start checking them out.
There wasn’t enough time. I know there were more stories and more birds that didn’t get told or seen, it’s still hard to believe that he won’t come peddling up and lean his bike against a tree at Kenneth Hahn Park for a birdwalk. He left a big hole in our hearts and many others. Thanks, Don, for the love and the silliness and the birds, the world is a better place for having had you in it!
Posted by Renee Safier on November 2, 2021
Don and Lisa were stalwart volunteers at our annual Bob Dylanfest in Torrance every year. Their love of music was expressed in the hard work they put in setting up and packing up the festival that sandwiched the joy they expressed during the show. Don always had a gleam in his eye and witty banter to share. The news of his passing was a shocking blow and a reminder that life is fleeting, and we need to express compassion and joy in living every day. Sending love to Lisa and the rest of Don's family. What a great loss. Renee Safier www.andyandrenee.com
Posted by Ron Melin on August 17, 2021
I lived in Humboldt County for the past 5 years and miss my birding friends in Southern California. On Friday August 13th, I went fishing for Albacore Tuna forty-five miles out of Trinidad. The fishing was great but the icing on the cake were the pelagic birds. Two species of albatross, storm petrels and Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters. I thought of Don. 
I manage the Bear Valley Springs Christmas Bird Count which Don participated in. It was always fun to have Don part of the gang. An expert birder and always an upbeat attitude. I miss him, we all miss him. 
Posted by Ann Brooks on July 21, 2021
A message shared by Hal Cohen, Hawkmeister of the Anza-Borrego Hawkwatch:
Hi Ann,
Below is a photo of Don at our place when we roasted caterpillars. Don was the first hawkwatcher that was willing to share a roasted caterpillar, a tradition that had its roots in the Native Cahuilla Indian culture. The Indians would have festivals during flower and caterpillar years. For several years I talked about sharing the historical aspect of a caterpillar roast. Finally Don stepped up and was willing to chomp on the critters. Don, Rose Leong and I enjoyed the crunchy roasted White-lined Sphinx Moth Caterpillars. During caterpillar years, the number of hawks stopping for their own feast is remarkable. Don would never hesitate to push the envelope. He had hawkeyes, never missing a migrating bird and sharing with his never ending wit. Each winter I would await the coming of the hawks and Don and Lisa. They would always be at the watch at the peak of the season. When they arrived, so did the hawks. We will dedicate the coming season to Don White and his spirit will always be part of the Borrego Valley Hawkwatch.
Best,
Hal
Posted by Faith Colish on July 18, 2021
Dear family and friends of Don White: I am not a birder; I am a first cousin of Don's late mother, Gloria White. I did not know Don well, but we corresponded on family matters and the little bit that I was privileged to share made me realize what an exceptional and generous person he was. I can see from the other tributes on this site how those who knew him well loved and respected him. Everyone he touched was enriched by his presence and his memory will be with us forever. Sincerely, Faith Colish
Posted by Gerry Hans on July 8, 2021
Don led birding walks for Friends of Griffith Park since 2017. He was a favorite, so enthusiastic, witty, and a great educator inspiring our young attendees. We’d meet in Fern Dell, but I learned he was always early, so I’d show up early, as well, to spend time with him.

Don had just reached out to us to see if we were COVID-cleared in the park yet, so he could lead a hike again. From time to time, I’d also consult with him on bird IDs, recently whether I had photographed a house or purple finch. I thought purple because of the forked tail, but he still leaned toward female house finch, but added, “But I was wrong once before (or twice??)” That was Don!

The next Bird LA Day without Don with us in Griffith Park will be sad for many of our board of directors and those who enjoyed mornings with Don. Our sincere condolences go to Don’s family and close friends.
Posted by Chris Dean on July 7, 2021
I was always happy to see Don at the front of the boat during pelagic trips. He had the best snacks and commentary! We shared a love of ice cream and compared notes on the ice cream places we visited across LA County. We attended many field trips together in the Angeles Forest. One time, I drove over a large rock in the mountains and was worried about my car's undercarriage. Don laid on the ground, checked out my car and provided reassurance. His sense of caring for people, animals and nature made him a hero to me. Before Bear Divide was a migration mecca for many, we shared the bliss (along with Ann and Eric) of witnessing an amazing number of Black-throated Gray Warblers pass over the divide. It was magical. I will miss Don greatly. Such a special guy!
Posted by Deb Fitzgerald on July 7, 2021
Don is my first cousin. We were a year apart almost to the day. We may have not kept each up directly through the years but his sister Ande always did. Don was a gentle giant who cared about so many things when it came to this earth and this earth’s creatures. My aunt, his mother, always thought she was a conduit for him and that “he came from another life/planet”…. Maybe he was ❤️❤️
He always “marched to that different drummer” and why he is/was so much that more special.
Posted by Bhaskar Krishnamachari on July 7, 2021
I first met Don about nine years ago at a bird walk led by Ann and Eric Brooks at Hahn Park. I got to know him really well on a trip to Piute ponds not long after, when he joined my son and me in our car, and kept us engaged and entertained with his many humorous stories and witty remarks.

Preferring to ride a bicycle, eschewing cell phones, carrying paper maps everywhere, Don showed through his example that living life to the fullest doesn't need distracting modern conveniences. With his taste for simplicity, love of nature, and the depth and breadth of his reading, I often thought of Don as a modern-day Thoreau.

Don, Layton Pace, Alex Coffey and I formed a deep bond of friendship over the years -- we went together on so many big days, CBC's, pelagic excursions, and other birding trips big and small, all over SoCal and beyond. And in between trips, our quartet exchanged hundreds of emails with each other spanning bird ID's, tips and pointers, trivia, music, and just a little politics. Don's good cheer, his everpresent smile, his knowledge, his patience in seeking out small birds in big trees, his kindness, and his tireless energy all made every trip so thoroughly enjoyable, and his wit and wisdom brightened our correspondence. 

I can't imagine going birding again without thinking of Don being there with me. He promised he'd show me a California Condor someday..
Posted by Jesse Ross on July 6, 2021
I first met Don on Nick and Mary Freeman's yearly LAAS trip to the Owens Valley in 2016. His energy, good humor, passion for exploration, deep knowledge of natural history, and tolerance for discomfort were immediately obvious.

Living in Culver City, I would frequently see Don out and about - always on his bike. I deeply respected his commitment to getting around that way.

He is somebody who I was always, always happy to see, and whom I deeply wish I could have gotten to know better. I regret his untimely loss extremely.
Posted by Rocky Cliff on July 6, 2021
Don was fun to know, fun to be with, fun to bird with. His smile will live on through our memories. He is missed.

A blog "Remembering Don White" is now posted on Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society: https://smbasblog.com/2021/07/06/remembering-don-white/

Chuck & Lillian Almdale
Posted by Bob Shanman on July 5, 2021
Don was a regular at the monthly Ballona walks. It was always a joy to see him there. Always smiling, joking from the instant he arrived, he loved telling us what he had seen "up the creek" from his bike on the eays to the walk. He was always welcome and welcoming, always had the funny sun hat on(!) and was just a an old-fashioned good guy. He will be sorely missed, and the walks, when we start them up again, won't be the same without him. Hope you see lots of really good birds up there, Don. Please keep smiling down on us. Love ya buddy!
Posted by Eleanor Osgood on July 5, 2021
I first met Don when he joined Walter Lamb and me in birding our regular section of the Lancaster Christmas Bird Count. All three of us lived in Culver City; of course my first image of Don was of this long-legged lanky man riding up to my house in the dark of the early morning on his bicycle . That is pretty much how I will always remember Don-- arriving for a bird walk, no matter the time, greeting me and the rest of the group with a big smile while debarking and locking up his bike. Don was an enthusiastic birder and great company in the field. I will miss him. My condolences to his famiy. 
Posted by Naresh Satyan on July 5, 2021
It was not possible to be around Don and not be smiling all the time. Whether it was spending time with him at the front of the boat and refusing his offers of ginger candy that would "pull out the fillings from your teeth", his company at Bear Divide as the warblers buzzed by, exchanging notes about CBC route planning, migration status in the deserts and mountains, seeing him roll up on his bicycle to field trips, or just his good humor and infectious smile at all times -- I will certainly miss him.
Posted by Charlie Keller on July 5, 2021
I first met Don in April of 2013 on a birding trip to Tejon Ranch, when by chance, and the need to put the maximum number of people in the fewest number of vehicles put myself and Joe Meltzer in the same car with Don and Lee Pace. It only took a few minutes in Don's company to realize that this was a fun guy to be around. His sense of a adventure became obvious when Don headed solo up a canyon to find one more bird when everyone else was getting into their vehicles to leave. Within a few minutes everyone was out of their vehicles and heading up the canyon to see what he had found.

Since that day I have spent many enjoyable days birding with Don in the Los Angeles area from Ballona Creek to the San Gabriel Mountains, but my fondest memories are of 8 years that Don joined me in the Palos Verdes Christmas Count. The midday lunch get together and the compiling at the end of the day, his funny stories, his jabs about birds seen, or in my case not seen.

In the past two weeks every time I go out birding I can't help but think of Don and the time we spent together.

Don's passing has left a huge hole in the L.A. birding community and everyone that knew him. I will miss him very much.
Posted by Ron Cyger on July 5, 2021
Don, riding out to Pasadena for a walk seemed a bit, uh, enthusiastic. But it's this kind of enthusiasm that makes birding special! So long Don, and thanks for all the Birds...
Posted by Richard Barth on July 5, 2021
Always a smile. And big Don seemed indestructible. This is so sad.
Posted by Walter Lamb on July 5, 2021
I was so saddened to hear the tragic news of Don's passing. I cannot understate how unique Don was in the bird watching community. Such an incredibly positive and welcoming person. As a fellow Culver City bird watcher, Don and I would frequently cross paths on the Ballona Creek bike trail and compare notes. He joined our annual bird watching by bicycle tours of the creek, which was incredibly helpful, because he was so patient with beginning bird watchers. After helping lead a tour one year, he went straight to Venice Beach, where he had volunteered to read a portion of Moby Dick as part of annual full length public reading. He was always full of energy and generous with his time. We last crossed paths in May at Kenneth Hahn Park observing migrating bird's at the Weeping Boer-bean trees. He urged me to visit Bear Divide, something I will make sure to do. Don will be sorely missed. Nature has lost a true friend.

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Ann Brooks on November 2, 2021
Hard to say what it was about Don, because it was so many things. I don’t think he ever met a stranger, I felt like I had known him forever when I first met him. He seemed to have an ability to make everyone feel special. And whenever he showed up for a field trip or birdwalk or with Lisa for one of our annual Holiday events, you just knew it would be more fun.
I have enjoyed reading the tributes and looking at the pictures, many of which are so classically Don- although he had height advantage, he was always first to scramble up on anything available to get a better view. Last spring, he tried to show me baby hummingbirds in a nest that were at about chin-level for him- and looked down at me and said, “oh, but you’re not 6-5”. So observant!
And his stories…one of my favorites was hearing about caring for Musk Ox (Ovibos) in Alaska, where it was so cold (“how cold was it, Don?”) that they had to thaw the tires to move the trucks because the tires had frozen flat. Too cold for me!!
His generosity knew no bounds. He’d often tell us about little authentic restaurants and coffee shops he found on his bike while cruising LA. Eric encouraged him to write a guide book, but what he did was write up a two page single space listing of places he thought we might try on our way to/from birding sites or when rooting for UCLA. We haven’t followed up on his list, but maybe we will honor his memory and start checking them out.
There wasn’t enough time. I know there were more stories and more birds that didn’t get told or seen, it’s still hard to believe that he won’t come peddling up and lean his bike against a tree at Kenneth Hahn Park for a birdwalk. He left a big hole in our hearts and many others. Thanks, Don, for the love and the silliness and the birds, the world is a better place for having had you in it!
Posted by Renee Safier on November 2, 2021
Don and Lisa were stalwart volunteers at our annual Bob Dylanfest in Torrance every year. Their love of music was expressed in the hard work they put in setting up and packing up the festival that sandwiched the joy they expressed during the show. Don always had a gleam in his eye and witty banter to share. The news of his passing was a shocking blow and a reminder that life is fleeting, and we need to express compassion and joy in living every day. Sending love to Lisa and the rest of Don's family. What a great loss. Renee Safier www.andyandrenee.com
Posted by Ron Melin on August 17, 2021
I lived in Humboldt County for the past 5 years and miss my birding friends in Southern California. On Friday August 13th, I went fishing for Albacore Tuna forty-five miles out of Trinidad. The fishing was great but the icing on the cake were the pelagic birds. Two species of albatross, storm petrels and Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters. I thought of Don. 
I manage the Bear Valley Springs Christmas Bird Count which Don participated in. It was always fun to have Don part of the gang. An expert birder and always an upbeat attitude. I miss him, we all miss him. 
Recent stories

Monterey Pelagic Trip

Shared by Lee Pace on July 15, 2021
Don and I had talked for years about going on a pelagic trip with Debi Shearwater out of Monterey.   When she announced that she was leading the last of such trips after 44 years, Don and I finally arranged a trip, Debi's second to last.
Don and I drove up the coast on a Friday in mid-October 2019.  The wind was howling and Malibu Lagoon dark with smoke blowing from a fire in the San Fernando Valley, so we moved on.   Don loved birding Malibu Lagoon, so you can imagine how bad the conditions appeared.
We ended up first birding in Carpinteria, then Santa Barbara, Gaviota rest area, Ocean Beach Park at Surf Beach in Lompoc and Oso Flaco.   We saw Meadowlarks on the beach in Santa  Barbara, a Canyon Wren in a culvert at Gaviota rest area, 100 or so Red-Necked Phalaropes at Ocean Beach Park (never seen so many shorebird species at one location) at Surf Beach, Sora in the open at Oso Flaco, etc.  It was a great day of birding, with Don along the way pointing out local haunts that served great food and shifting from one paper map to another (who needs navigation in the car and Google when you have Don) as we went from county to county.   We ended up eating at a great restaurant in a revitalized section of downtown Salinas that Don recalled from a past visit.
That night we camped at Laguna Seco Raceway in between Salinas and Monterey.   Don had reservations, but the instructions at the entrance in the pitch black left us very confused.   So after driving around some, we finally planted in an empty campsite of our choosing.  Of course, Don slept under the stars and heard a Great-horned Owl in the early morning.
On Saturday, Bhaskar joined us on the pelagic trip that left from the Monterey Wharf.  Unfortunately, the boat did not have a pointed bow that allowed Don to stand in it.   He had to be resigned merely to being on the bow.   We saw many pelagic species, including Bullers’ and a Flesh-footed Shearwater and a Black-footed Albatross, but no petrels or storm-petrels.
After back on land, we went to Moss Landing and Don pointed out a  LT Duck.  We had dinner at Phil's in Moss Landing after a long wait.  We then went back to our campsite at Laguna Seco Raceway to camp among a Miata convention.  I kindly gave the location a 2 out of 10 because the porta-potties did not stink and accused Don of not being a glass is half full person, because the glass only had a couple of drops in it and he still liked it.
On Sunday, we went down Hwy 1 through Big Sur.  Saw over 40 species at Andrew Molera SP.  Brown Creeper was probably the highlight.  We dipped on California Condor along Hwy 1 on a ridge that Don knew from past visits served as a condor perch.  We later saw a Tarantula which excited us all and had dinner at Flatbreads at Los Alamos on our way back to LA.
A memorable weekend of birding.

Lake Okoboji Iowa (1989)

Shared by Scott White on July 5, 2021
I'm Don's cousin Scott White.  He was the oldest son of my Uncle Donald and I'm the oldest son of his Uncle Charlie.  I'm a few years older.  We hung out as cousins in Massachusetts up until 1964 when my family moved to Southern Ca (Palos Verdes Peninsula).  After that it was hit and miss when we saw each other.  I have lived in PV, Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Bay Area, Redondo Beach (up until last September) and now Solvang.  Our common grandfather was Charles D. White Sr who was called Chick.

Don grew up to be quite the adventurer--Norway, Alaska, China and probably other places and countries.  I grew up to be more "conventional" working the last 48 years in the electrical business.  Don has gone to a hell of a lot more places around LA than I have although I have the feeling I visited a lot more golf courses.  Let's look at Chick--50 years in the electrical business, traveled many times to South America and the Caribbean including Havana and he played a lot of golf.  Chick was a great story teller. Don was a great story teller.  You can see where this is going...

With apologies to Lois White who is from Spenser Iowa (Google Spenser--it is next to Lake Okoboji):

In 1989 Don's youngest brother Phil married Lois and the wedding was in Spenser.  We all stayed at a Resort on Lake Okoboji in a bunch of A frame cabins.  My wife and I passed up a vacation in Hawaii with a bunch of friends to go to the wedding.  The upper NW corner of Iowa was not the hippest place to visit and it was hard to get you.  5 hours by car from Omaha or 31/2 from Sioux Falls, SD--through cornfields.  We wound up having a very good time.  We would all sit out on a big lawn in front of the cabins and we could look at the lake about 100 yards away.  There was a cooler that we kept stocked with two beers, Miller Genuine Draft and Dubuque from Dubuque Iowa.  No one drank much Miller. 

I'm going to say we were not there to hang out and pound beers.  It was more social drinking. The afternoon before we all went to the wedding we were all sitting on the lawn and Don and I were sitting together, just watching the world go by and commenting on our general status of being in Iowa.  We came to the agreement that the Dubuque beer was pretty damn good.  Don looked at me and said it was the cultural highlight of being in Iowa. I still laugh at that today

I like to tell stories too

Happenstance First Meetings

Shared by Alex Coffey on July 5, 2021
When I first moved to LA in 2012, I didn't know anyone. I birded here and there, but my first year in town I was extremely focused on work, so the 2013 CBC season was really the first time I started to stretch my wings, so to speak. I had been in touch with Dave Moody and Charlie Keller about participating in the Palos Verdes CBC. A couple days before the count, Charlie contacted me that there was a local who was hoping to carpool to PV for the count - some guy named Don. "Could you pick him up?" A random request, but not that unusual in our corner of the world, birders wanting to carpool. Sure, why not.

530am that Sunday morning, I pulled up to Don's house along the Culver City stretch of Ballona Creek. His 6'5" frame clambered into my ill-fitting Prius's passenger seat. I wish I could remember his words of greeting, but it was probably something like "Good morning, sunshine!" as tongue-in-cheek as he would always be. We spent the day birding with a group, and the two of us hit it off as car companions - you know when you bird with someone who you just have a good flow with. It's like playing music with others - sometimes it just clicks.

Knowing Don now, that first CBC was emblematic of so many things I would grow to learn and appreciate about him as a birder, an environmentalist and a friend. Don was always game for anything if it meant more time outside, or more time birding.

Six weeks later, we ended up reconnecting on the annual Pasadena Audubon pelagic boat, where between Don, Layton Pace, Bhaskar Krishnamachari and myself, our Big Day team of four began to coalesce. The 7 years to follow held some epic trips, impressive big day efforts and golden memories.