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This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Gene White, 99 years old, born on December 23, 1921, and passed away on June 23, 2021. We will remember her forever.
December 23, 2021
December 23, 2021
We will always miss you Gene and you will be forever in our hearts.
Deep thoughts from Benin. Armelle.
July 30, 2021
July 30, 2021
Aunt Gene was a tremendous person and I will always cherish the memories I have of her. I especially remember the fun times we had whenever we would all spend thanksgivings with her and Bill, and the wonderful food she would prepare.
Gene was an incredibly kind and generous person, and always knew how to have fun. I remember her enthusiastically taking us kids down to the beach to hunt for sea shells. I wish that I could have seen her again before she passed, but I know that the impact she had on so many lives will never, ever be forgotten.
July 27, 2021
It is with deep sadness that I write my tribute message to Gene this morning! We imagined she is almost immortal because she has been so present in our lives, in the history of school feeding through the globe! So many school children have had a better future thanks to her inspiring commitment ...
I hoped that she would be celebrated around the world on the occasion of her hundredth anniversary ... but alas!

Gene, rest in peace, we will never forget you.

Programme Officer WFP/Benin
July 21, 2021
July 21, 2021
Ode to Gene White - June 23, 2021 ~ with love from Amy Walker

Oh Hail Valiant Gene.
    She’s the queen on the scene
Flying clear out to Africa, Asia, and back
With a suitcase of wisdom
      and gifts
   Spirits lift in her presence
     The resident Matriarch
built an arc
   not just for two of each -
You and me,
                        families all
                  could stand tall
           through it all
with her grace
   with the light from her face
      not a trace of fear
Dear Mr. President,
       letters sent home to the White House
the night found her burning the candles
   she handles it all
      with a sigh and a smile
and somehow awhile for a friend’s coffee break
            yes with cake
     because boy, could she bake.
No fake niceness but spice - Yes!
    Completely authentic
   She meant it
      she lived it with zest
    from the heart in her chest
          that beat on like a drum
            so all children could hum
                         with the sum of their wholeness
        their soul - Yes she saw you
she sees you even now;
  not to please you
   but squeeze you with love,
     till you fly like a dove
       to wherever that calls you
recall her now
 crinkled brow
  How did she do it?
She knew it.
  The secret of life is Walk through it
with purpose beyond you
    abscond to the place of fulfillment
   where will meant sweet union
the tune went like this:
  I’m alive
You’re alive
We are one
This is Bliss.
July 21, 2021
July 21, 2021
What to say about my auntie? From the time I was just a young girl, auntie Gene was an inspiration. First and foremost, aunt Gene was a Servant. She loved people unconditionally and fearlessly. She always had time for you, gave you her full attention, and made you feel you were the only person in the world. With auntie Gene, it was strictly "Come as you are". No judgments, no fuss. I accept you as you are, and love you for it.
Aunt Gene was just happy to spend time with you, and hear what was going on in your life. She immediately put you at ease, and let you know you were loved. Auntie Gene's question, "What can I do for you?" is cherished by our family..we knew she meant it! My memories of summers spent at auntie Gene and uncle Bill's cabin in Mammoth, amazing holiday dinners at their home on Whidbey, fishing trips, visits to their home in China Lake, and aunt Gene's boundless energy will stay with me always. We Love and miss you, auntie Gene.
July 19, 2021
July 19, 2021
For over 40 years, I was privileged to know and love Gene. Her friendship was truly one of my greatest blessings. I met Gene in 1978 while she served as Director of the Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Division for the California Department of Education. I applied for the position of Assistant Director and Gene hired me. She took a leap of faith because I was not a nutritionist and did not have a nutritional background. My professional training was in early childhood education. We worked together for seven years – Gene as director and me as assistant. This relationship forged a bond, a deep friendship that lasted all these years. We worked on many nutrition projects together both while public servants and even into retirement as private citizens. We also played together, along with her husband Bill, on many trips and numerous visits to their home. We shared the joy of cooking and baking together, the love of reading good books, the fondness of kittens and cats, many discussions about politics, the beauty of roses and rhododendrons, rides around Whidbey Island, and the pleasure of just being together in each other’s company.  

Gene taught me so much about life and the importance of giving service to others. She lived her talk by caring and giving of herself to any cause or to anyone who was in need. Her guiding star was meeting the nutritional needs of children and adults locally, nationally, and internationally. Gene helped anyone who needed assistance who crossed her path. She enriched my life by her beauty as a compassionate and loving friend. I will miss her laugh, our long talks in seeking solutions to critical situations, and most of all her deep and abiding love of always seeking to make the world better for children. Gene was a grand lady – always very poised to help. I love you, Gene, and may you rest in peace. 

July 11, 2021
July 11, 2021
What a beautiful woman - courageous, kind, generous, committed, persistent, joyful, and full of love. I am inspired by you, Gene.
July 11, 2021
July 11, 2021
She whom we love
and lose
is no longer
where she was before.
She is now
wherever we are.
St. John Chrysostom

Shared by Gloria Koll at our Circle of Stones writing group last week, Gene was our Mother Goose. We gave her that name because of her life's work of feeding the world's children, and the "flying goose" being a Celtic symbol for "Spirit".  Gene was in so many ways a spiritual mother to us. She inspired us with her ready hospitality at the "White House" where we often met on Friday mornings, her question "What can I do for you?" ( also shared in these tributes by her nephew), her choice to answer what she called the "Divine Unrest", a call to give to the world her unique gifts and talents. She inspired us to do the same in our own ways.
She will always have a place at the Circle of Stones table. 
We love you Mother Goose! Gene White presenté. 
July 10, 2021
July 10, 2021
There is no way to express my thanks to Gene. She was an angel on earth and blessed everyone with her presence. A mentor, a friend, a teacher and more. Gene inspired all of us on so many levels. I will always be grateful to Gene White and her sweet husband Bill who left immeasurable and lasting impact on my life. Beautiful memories. God is indeed good!
July 9, 2021
July 9, 2021
When Great Trees Fall ~ by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
 fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
July 6, 2021
July 6, 2021
Gene was a mentor and inspiration to so many people, and we have been so fortunate to know her and have her in our lives. Being with Helen on "Team Gene" has been an honor and highlight of my life. I will miss her laugh, her smile, her kindness, her wisdom, her resilience and strength, her probing questions, her love of ice cream and chocolate, her delight in animals and small children, and the beauty of our island home. Well done, good and faithful servant. Rest in peace, dear friend.
July 3, 2021
July 3, 2021
Gene was my special friend, a mentor and an inspiration. We met about 30 years ago while both serving in leadership on the Langley United Methodist Church council. We grew very close and she became an important person to my whole family, often joined us for holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions. She encouraged us all to live a life of purpose and service to others.

She loved to travel the world and especially enjoyed visiting African countries. Even in her last months she spoke of her desire to go back to the African bush to teach and to learn more. She loved the word "ubuntu", from a Zulu phrase which means "I am, because you are". Gene saw our common humanity and treated everyone with dignity and respect.
July 3, 2021
July 3, 2021
Our dear "Auntie Gene" will always be remembered most fondly by our family.  Our children will never forget the wonderful times we all enjoyed with her and Uncle Bill at their Mammoth cabin for years. Her thoughtful, loving, encouraging and caring ways will never be forgotten. She had a way of bringing out the best in each of us. We know she will always have a very special place in the hearts of all that knew and enjoyed her. She was such a blessing, and we'll always consider ourselves most fortunate to count her as part of our family!  She will be missed greatly.
July 3, 2021
July 3, 2021
Aunt Gene was always considerate of others. It’s clear to anyone who knew her that her life was about not simply thriving, but leaving a legacy. I did not know her as much as I wish I had, but I’ll always think fondly of our conversations and her smile. She had a smile that somehow made you feel warmer and at ease. While I never ended up being able to join you on a trip to Africa, I have peace knowing you’ve made a tremendous impact there and I’ll keep your memory with me whenever I serve others like you did. Thanks for being an example worth following.

Until we meet again,

July 3, 2021
July 3, 2021
Gene was my aunt and I have many great memories with her from when I was a young kid...singing Christmas carols in her and uncle Bill's Jeep Cherokee while driving the snow covered roads in Mammoth Lakes is one of my favorites...but through all the years I was fortunate to have aunt Gene as part of my family, a couple of things I admired most about her was her concern for others and a belief that everyone has something of value to offer, no matter their background, beliefs, affiliations, etc. Everyone has something to offer, everyone has value.
In her later years, and even as her health declined, she would say the same thing to me every time I saw her; "Steve, what can I do for you?"
She was a strong woman and an extraordinary example to many. She will be missed.

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December 23, 2021
December 23, 2021
We will always miss you Gene and you will be forever in our hearts.
Deep thoughts from Benin. Armelle.
Her Life

L. Gene White, MS, SNS December 23, 1921 - June 23, 2021 

 (Lois) Gene White, MS, SNS, passed away peacefully in Oak Harbor, Washington on June 23, just six months shy of her 100th birthday. Born tiny and sickly on December 23, 1921,  in Pitsburg, Ohio to Merlin and Olive Sando. Gene’s mother, a nurse, improvised an incubator in the warming oven of a wood-burning stove. Gene survived, and survived spectacularly–to become a global leader in school nutrition.

Gene often referred to the life lessons she learned from her mother about caring for others, and from her father, a teacher, about the value of a good education. Gene graduated from Milton-Union High School in 1939; received her undergraduate degree in Food and Nutrition from Miami University in Ohio and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, Gene met William C. “Bill” White; they were married in Sacramento, CA in 1952.

Following graduation, Gene worked for two years in food service for a large psychiatric hospital in Ohio before moving into the school food services field. She lived and worked in California for over 20 years. Gene served as the Director of School Food and Nutrition Programs for the Sierra Sands Unified School District in Ridgecrest, California. Then in the 1980’s she served as Assistant Superintendent and Director of Child Nutrition Programs for the California State Department of Education. In this role she was responsible for federal and state programs that served daily meals to over 2.5 million children.  Gene served as the president of the California School Nutrition Association and was a longtime member and a past president of the American Schools Food Service Association (now the School Nutrition Association).

While Gene was working in the Ridgecrest/China Lake District in 1970, she saw a newspaper advertisement from the US Agency for International Development for volunteers to go to developing countries to assist with building nutrition programs. Gene signed up and was sent to Tunisia. As she prepared to spend her first day visiting a remote village, she stopped at a small shop and bought a box of animal crackers. When she arrived in the little Saharan village, she was met by a swarm of poor, hungry children. Gene learned that poverty and hunger were so chronic in this village that the expected life span was only 35 years. She carefully broke the crackers into pieces so she could give a small offering to as many children as possible.

This experience touched her deeply and changed the trajectory of the rest of her long life. Gene understood that by feeding children at school with locally produced food, the whole community can benefit—both in the short term, and for generations to come.

When severe reductions to the American school feeding programs were threatened in Congress in 1995, Gene traveled to Washington, DC and spent six months providing testimony and tirelessly advocating for this essential program, alongside (then) Senator George McGovern and others.  

In the late 1990s, Gene was instrumental in establishing an annual Global Child Nutrition Forum, which over time became the largest annual conference in the world focused on school meal programs, hosting as many as 650 government, non-profit, private sector, and academic leaders in a different country each year. She quickly developed “rock star” status with Forum attendees, and attended each Forum for 19 years, until her health began to wane in 2018.

Once again working with the former Senator, presidential candidate, and Ambassador George McGovern, School Nutrition Association leaders, and others, Gene was a founder of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) in 2006. GCNF hosts the Forum each year and works with government leaders and a diverse network of partners around the world to deliver sustainable and nutritious school meal programs that give every child the opportunity to learn and thrive. Gene led GCNF and provided advice to programs around the world (including programs in Tunisia, Paraguay, and China) until 2018.

Gene and Bill moved to Whidbey Island in Washington State in 1987 and quickly engaged by volunteering in the local community. Gene’s efforts included leadership in the Langley United Methodist Church, helping local school districts develop wellness policies to prevent obesity and promote student health, Board membership for the Good Cheer Food Bank, and supporting food preservation efforts with underserved Native communities.

Gene was preceded in death by her parents, her two brothers, and by her husband Bill (in 2011); she leaves behind nieces and nephews, and many close friends. 

Gene was remarkable in her capacity for leadership, kindness and wisdom. The positive impact of her life will continue to be felt by many around the world for years to come. 

She strongly believed that we are one global family, commissioned by God’s universal and unconditional love to care for one another. This was the focus of her life’s work. 

A memorial celebration will be held at Langley United Methodist Church on Whidbey Island, and available via Live Stream on July 31st @ 2 pm. Check back here for a link to access the Live Stream. 

Memorial donations in Gene’s honor can be made to the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, and the Langley United Methodist Church.
Recent stories
July 5, 2021
I will miss Gene alot,she was such a wonderful women. I remember when she and her husband used to come over to our house for dinner,  and for PEO when my mom hosted it at our house, she was such a wonderful lady i loved seeing her at church every Sunday, she was like a grandma figure to my brother and I.  I will miss you so much Gene,  rest in peace my friend. 

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