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Comments submitted on John ('Big John') R. White
Heather Duke on 2009-09-02 12:39 wrote:

I have many fond memories of summers at Archaeology camp with Dr. White and his merry band of pranksters. My summers at archaeology camp at Camp Kern really left a mark on me.. always a place where I felt safe and accepted for being creative. I can remember Dr. White telling me as I pondered my future " You don't need to worry about how much money you are going to make.. do the things you are passionate about'. Archaeology is not making me rich, but it makes me happy." Dr. White, the weekend you died.. I was thinking of you. I was working on a play with friends at a vineyard in Sonoma county California. We were all stationed among the grapevines and old vineyard walls to perform for a procession of guests at a wedding. I thought of your play along the Little Miami River so many years ago as we worked on our parts. Each summer at archaeology camp you did some kind of play or speech and it left its mark. My part in the play last weekend was the part of the gatekeeper to the underworld. I wore a handmade mask of redwood bark decorated with cedar fronds. I stood by a wall and rang tibetan bells to greet passersby. I am thinking of those bells now, and the synchronicity in it all.. I hope they also guided you as you headed towards the light. sending my blessings and love to your family and friends as they remember you, Heather Duke

Linda Cochran on 2009-09-01 21:32 wrote:

I think Dr. White's first year (or early years) was the same as when I arrived at Kern for my first summer. I was with him for one weeks time watching and learning as he instructed the kids on a "dig". I have never forgotten his passion and great presence! A short time with him gave a great impact on all! Linda Cochran

Allison Chorpenning Shaw on 2009-08-31 09:31 wrote:

So sad. I do remember him from a 101 Conference years ago. We got a trash can and investigated the contents so that we could better learn about the "inhabitants of long ago 101 conference attendees." It was really interesting and I used the reference many times from Ft. Ancient hikes to other education jobs. -alli

Mike Lair on 2009-08-30 19:02 wrote:

I, too, was stunned when hearing of Dr. Whites passing. Big John was absolutely awesome. He bunked at our house with Gary Saxton, Trow and myself during his stays at Kern for Archaeology camp and was too much fun. Stories beyond belief flew out of his mouth on a constant basis...and he could mix a hell of a vodka special too! The first summer of the ropes course found John and his digging staff eager to try out the course while Trow and I were eager to show it off. I will never forget the sight of that tiny little helmet perched on his head. The sling lines looked half the length they should have been...and he just rocked his way through the course cutting jokes and shooting the bull with me and Trow. Someone spoke of how hard and soft he true, one of his diggers was so ready to go up on the course but scared out of his shorts that John worked with us on the side to set up something to get him out there by himself so as not to suffer the viewing of anyone else. That was very cool of him. Storyteller, and jokester should be added to that great obit. What a trip. He will be greatly missed. Mike

Joey Ruehrwein on 2009-08-30 13:31 wrote:

I remember when Archeology camp showed up either my first or second year at camp. Dr. White was a bit of a mystery to me as a 17 year old main camp CIT, to me he was like a wild bear roaming around underneath Pete's tower. He was wild in his dirty cut-offs and bushy hair. I was pretty intimdiated by him, but his infectious smile and way of speaking was disarming. If I remember correctly he had an ongoing academic feud with was it carl sagan and the publication charriots of the gods... and that he had openly debated him and kicked his butt.... gosh it has been so long..what I mostly remember about Dr. White was that he had a great spirit, was so passionate about what he did and that the kids seemed to love him... I remember wishing I had gotten to spend a week on a dig.... and do remember both the dig under pete's tower and a fully exposed sun serpant. Joey

Bob Terwillegar on 2009-08-29 13:35 wrote:

This happened during summer science and archaeology camps. A canoe float was planned with characters along the bank to intersect with the canoes. White was to be a pirate, dressed with a large knife between his teeth. He was to swing on a vine in front of the fist canoe, grab the prow, brandish the knife and say " BE ye friend or be ye foe? He did this and realized he had the wrong canoe float. These were all senior citizens. He said "OH SH*T" and climbed back up the bank. The senior float immediately went to opposite side of the bank. There are several White stories about the floats. ON one he was supposed to be the god of wisdom. He embellished his costume with a wreath of vines around his head. Poison Ivy. Bob Terwillegar

Mike Stewart on 2009-08-29 10:34 wrote:

John spoke many times at the 101 Conference and always added his knowledge and humor to every presentation. He spoke once about how archeology was the "opera of the sciences" because it combines all the other sciences just as opera combined all the other sciences. He will sorely be missed at the 101. Perhaps this year's 101 should be dedicated to John. -- Michael J. Stewart

Carolyn (Tigger) Williams on 2009-08-28 23:34 wrote:

It's been over twenty years since I've seen Dr. White but your news hit me hard because I remember such a vibrant, joyous, and fun person who could convince anyone that archaeology was the most fascinating subject ever contrived. Thanks for passing the message along. Carolyn (tig) Williams

Stephen Seifert on 2009-08-28 22:51 wrote:

The second summer I was an Archeology counselor, a friend and colleague of Dr. White spent a couple weeks with us. This guy was smart, strong, and full of all kinds of great stories. Like Dr. White, he was a hard worker and expected the same out of the kids. After the first week, we all went to Montgomery Inn for dinner. While I feasted on ribs, onion straws, and my first beer at a restaurant, a red ale, Dr. White and his buddy acted out their favorite Shakespeare scenes with accuracy and vigor. We got to hear many great tales from their past. It was a grand time and I'll never forget it. Going into the next week, Dr. White's friend got news his father had just died. I was the first face he saw when he got the news. This hulk of a man ran towards me and hugged me as he sobbed on my shoulder. I never saw him after that. Do they make guys like this any more? Hard AND soft? If you only knew Dr. White's hard side, you missed his best side. He was a good guy to the kids and the counselors. He expected the best out of everyone. He treated the kids like colleagues and most of them were glad to step up to the plate. Dr. White made me want to be good at something. He left me with a desire to live life for all it's worth. I will not forget him. Fare thee well, Dr. White. Stephen Seifert (When was I a counselor? What, me old?)

Anne Trowbridge Weinberg on 2009-08-28 21:45 wrote:

Here's the obit from the Youngstown paper, Dr. John Robert White, 72 NORTH LIMA – Dr. John Robert White, 72, died peacefully at his North Lima home Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009, from complications due to Parkinson’s disease. Dr. White was born in Philadelphia on Aug. 1, 1937 to Mr. John and Catherine (Casanave) White. He was cherished by his Aunt Mary, who remained a source of love and support throughout his childhood. John graduated high school from Girard College in 1955 and served four years in the U.S. Navy before obtaining his Associate Degree at the City College of San Francisco. He continued his education and in 1963, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State University. He later received his Master of Arts and finally his PhD in Anthropology from Oregon State University in 1974. Dr. White began teaching Anthropology at Youngstown State University in 1971 and gained Full Professor status by 1977. He became the Chair of the Anthropology and Sociology Department in 1995 until he retired to Emeritus status in 2005. During his tenure, he was honored with the Distinguished Professor award in 1979, 1981, 1985 and 2005. Additionally, he was honored with Research Professor each year from 1979 through 1989, gained the Outstanding Professor Award in 1989, the Honors Professor Award in 2003, and the Golden Key National Honor Society in 1988. A prolific writer, John personally authored over 100 separate articles and books during his academic career including Hands on Archaeology–Real Life Activities For Kids, a text book for teaching archaeology to children. Additionally, his name has graced articles from the Vindicator to regional archaeology and international journals on education. John’s work took him extensively throughout the United States, Ireland, Costa Rica, Canada, and Israel. His passion was archaeology and he left behind a loyal dig crew of Chuck Mastran, Joe Alessi, Dale Wright, Tom Delvaux, Dan Madden, Marian Kutlesa, Debbie Zetts, Pat Carbon, Dick Gregg, Chuck Creager, Larry Bruno, Mike Reznor, Eric Anderson, Eric Johnson, Bob Durick, Ryan Steeves, Chris Walters, Tom McKinney, Jennifer Centric, Renee Marker and multitudes of previous crews too numerous to mention, but not forgotten. In addition to surveying hundreds of archaeological sites, they excavated a myriad of sites including the Eaton (Hopewell) furnace, Austin Log House, Barnhisel House, Quakertown, Lanterman’s Mill, the Kern (Sun Serpents) Effigies No. 2 and No. 3, Hubbard House, Cherry Valley Coke and Ironworks Site, Damascus Friends Burying Ground, Mill Creek (Trumbull) Furnace and the on-going Mercer (Springfield) Furnace. Besides being involved in education, John was an award winning thespian. Anyone that saw him in Harper’s Ferry will surely remember his bigger-than-life portrayal of John Brown. He was also in a plethora of plays including Three Penny Opera, Gulliver!, Guys and Dolls, School for Wives, Lady not for Burning, Mariner, Quasimodo, Grapes of Wrath, Lysistrata, and many more at both Youngstown Playhouse and Youngstown State University’s theatre. In addition to Dr. White’s anthropological and theatrical contributions, for four years, he was also the co-director of the Fresh Air Camp for underprivileged children in Youngstown, located in Mill Creek Park and designed to give recreation and education to the city’s children. He was affectionately called “Big John”. Up to his passing, he was often stopped by now adults who remembered his positive impact on them during their camp experience. John leaves behind his only daughter, Kathryn Yvonne “Kak” White; a son-in law, David Ryan Mauerman; an adored grandson, David John “Tom Sawyer” Mauerman, all of Boardman; his former wife and dear friend, Joanne White; mother-in-law, Katherine “Tass” Strauss, both of Coos Bay, Ore.; two nieces, Sabrina and Cindy Shields; dear friends, Charles Mastran of Liberty and David Parker of Findlay; as well as numerous beloved extended family members, friends and his loyal dog, companion-to-the-end, Molly McWaggles. John was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Yvonne White; and his much-loved dogs Patty, Heidi and Babe. Per Dr. White’s wishes, he will be buried in a pine coffin in a private green burial at Foxfield Nature Preserve in Wilmot, Ohio. The family invites all friends of John’s to come to his excavations at the Millcreek blast furnace, adjacent to Pioneer Pavilion in Millcreek Park from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28, 2009, for a memorial gathering to share stories and celebrate the life of our dear friend, father, grandpa, educator, thespian, colleague, and archaeologist. Additional parking will be available at the Ford Nature Center. Due to limited parking, carpooling is encouraged. Finally, per John’s wishes, his daughter asks that attendees dress casually and in bright colors to celebrate John’s remarkable and wonderful life. He was especially fond of tie-dye. Finally, his daughter wishes anyone who reads this to know that she was the luckiest daughter in the world and that no woman could wish for a better dad. He will be forever missed. Arrangements are being handled by the Rossi Brothers & Lellio Funeral Home, 4442 South Ave. in Boardman.

Jonathan Adams on 2009-08-28 20:37 wrote:

Isn't John the one that excavated the sun serpent in the filed down below.... When I was there there the Archeology camp had documented it and covered it back over.... something like for each day leading up to the summer solstice that shadow cast from the post at the front would point out each stone in the tail..... I remember him as a tall man with bushy hair that loved to infect teenagers with his passion for archeology. I swear I thought a few of the students in that program actually went on to college with Archeology in mind Archeology...Dig Dig Jonathan Adams Archeology counselor Summer 1989