- Special Sections
- Public Notices
William Taylor White was a lifelong farmer and a World War II veteran from Shelby County, but his life was anything but ordinary.
White, known far and wide by his initials, W.T., died Wednesday at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, where he had lived since September. He was 89.
His family shared memories of a beloved father and husband that painted a picture of a devoted family man with more than a little touch of an adventurous spirit.
“He’s done just about everything; he always said he’d try anything once,” said his son Jim White. “He never knew a stranger, and he if they were a stranger, they weren’t strangers long.”
Said his brother Mike: “He helped a lot of people out, and he had a great sense of humor. I guess that’s why people loved to talk to him. I guess most people would say their dad is a very fine fellow, but he really was.
“He was a farmer, and worked hard most of his life, and farmed right up until about a year ago.”
Bill White, Jim’s twin brother, said the most important thing to his dad was his family.
“He did a lot of things and had a lot of interests, but the most important thing to him was taking care of his family,” he said.
Jeanne Kemper, White’s daughter, recalled the more adventurous side of her dad’s personality.
“He always wanted fly, and he was an airplane mechanic in the Navy [he was a veteran of World War II in the Pacific], but he didn’t get to fly in the service,” she said. “He loved planes so much that he got his private pilot’s license several years ago.
“He never got over his love for planes, but he’s got a nephew, James, who was in the Air Guard who flies a C-130, so he got to live out his dream through him.”
White also possessed a great love for the outdoors, and Mike White said when he and his siblings were small, they all enjoyed horseback riding.
“He enjoyed that until he got to the point where he couldn’t. Then he traded his horse in for a motorcycle; he said it didn’t eat as much,” he recalled with a chuckle.
“He loved his family and his grandkids,” Kemper said. “He was into everything: planes, motorcycles. He rode one until he was well into his seventies. He didn’t miss out on much in life.”
Carroll White said she was 7 years old when she met her husband, then 12, when his family moved to a neighboring farm in Simpsonville. But even though they saw each other often, they were not childhood sweethearts.
“He was five years older than me, and I just always kind of thought of him as a grown up,” she said.
But then one day all that changed with a chance meeting on Main Street.
“He came home on leave from the South Pacific, and it was almost time for him to go back to Guam, and we saw each other on Main Street in Shelbyville one day,” she said, “and we started talking.”
She said she saw him in a different light after that, and they started writing to each other.
“We got married about six months after he got back,” she said.
The Whites lived their entire married life, except for a few years in the 1950s, on her family farm in Simpsonville.
“In the early days, we had a dairy, beef cattle and tobacco,” she said.
She remarked how her family has always stayed so close knit, largely because her husband was such a loving father.
“Our children have always stayed close, and have always lived here, except for when Jimmy and Billy were in the Marines. I’m grateful for the life we had. We had 65 years together, and that’s something to be thankful for.”