Local Obituaries

Educator, Coconut Grove community leader David White dies at 85

David White was a teacher, counselor and school principal in a 35-year career with Miami-Dade Public Schools. He was also a Coconut Grove activist and community leader.
David White was a teacher, counselor and school principal in a 35-year career with Miami-Dade Public Schools. He was also a Coconut Grove activist and community leader.

Coconut Grove lost one of its biggest supporters with the passing of educator and community leader David White.

“His parents migrated from the Bahamas and came to the U.S. and were very involved in the activities of the Grove,” said White’s daughter-in-law Gina White, wife of his son Zachary. “One of the things he said was, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ He felt he was blessed.”

White, who was born in Coconut Grove on June 27, 1931, died in his Grove home on Aug. 11 of prostate cancer. He was 85.

Over the years, White served as the director of the Coconut Grove Food Pantry and established the Christ Episcopal Church Endowment Fund. He was also a president of the West Grove Homeowners and Tenants Association, a former member of the Coconut Grove Village Council and president of the Miami Goombay Festival.

“He and my mother-in-law were a team. He was the planner, and she would make things happen,” Gina White said of her in-laws, David White and his late wife, Tessie Carter White. “He had a love for the Grove and for the people and was admired by a lot of people.”

Some of these admirers were former students or members of the Boy Scouts troop White started in the neighborhood. He wanted to take children to area attractions they might otherwise have missed out on seeing. His daughter-in-law laughed when she recounted how the kids would often come back years later to express appreciation.

“You’d see these grown men of six-foot-five come back and say, ‘Thank you, Dr. White.’ He wanted to make life better for children.”

He wanted children to succeed, and that’s why he had this love of education. He wanted to give back to the community.

Gina White on her father-in-law David White.

To that end, White spent 35 years with Miami-Dade Public Schools, from 1955 to 1990. He was a classroom teacher, counselor and, in his last role, principal at Rockway Middle School in Southwest Miami-Dade. His tenure also included Dorsey, Booker T. Washington and Brownsville junior high schools; West Miami, Howard D. McMillan and Glades middle schools; and Miami Carol City, North Miami and South Miami senior high schools. Teaching furthered White’s goal to reach children, but it’s a profession he almost missed.

After graduating from George Washington Carver High School in 1949, he served for two years in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. One of his cousins was a barber so he took up the trade to earn money. The G.I. Bill, however, provided for a college education so White earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial arts education from Florida A&M University in 1955 and a master’s in guidance and counseling in 1959. Later, he earned his doctorate in education from Nova University in 1978.

As Commander Emeritus of Post 182 of the American Legion, White often led Veterans Day memorials at the historic Coconut Grove Cemetery.

“Because of them, our lives are free. Because of them, our nation lives,” White said in a Miami Herald article as he helped lead a 1995 service. “They fought for us; for us they fell.”

White is survived by his children Gregory Vance, Zachary Albert, Stacy Alphonso, Kelsey David and Kay Blount; 12 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and brothers Cyril and Garfield White. A litany will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, and Mass will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, both at Christ Episcopal Church, 3481 Hibiscus St. in Coconut Grove. Donations in White’s name can be sent to Christ Episcopal Church.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen