Willis Duane White, age 83, of Manhattan, died December 30, 2016, at his residence. He was my dad. He was born November 4, 1933, in Abilene, Kansas, the son of Willis Albert and Macie E. (Gump) White. Dad graduated from Abilene High School in 1952. His high school accomplishments included CKL Football Championship Team of 1951, the Glee Club with honors singing at the Topeka State Capital, and Campaign Manager for Cowboy Joe his senior year! He attended Kansas State University where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. He joined the United States Marine Corps on the G.I. Bill, and later returned to campus following his retirement in 1982. We took a couple of classes together in 1984 while I was also at K¬-State. Of course I never skipped those two classes I took with Dad!
My dad was extremely proud to have served our great country as a United States Marine. During his 26 year career, he served in Viet Nam, earned The National Defense Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Viet Nam Campaign Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and various other meritorious awards. He served as an Air Intelligence Officer and Image Interpreter. Over his career, our family lived in multiple duty stations, from coast to coast, including Hawaii. Due to Dad’s many deployments, our family was often without him. However, we made the best of it; you see we were as proud to be the family of a United States Marine Corps Officer as he was to be one!
Dad retired in 1982, and our family returned to Kansas, making Manhattan our home. Dad enjoyed organic gardening and was recognized by the Area Agency on Aging and featured in the Keynotes Paper. He was known around town as “the tomato man,” as he could often be seen lifting a tomato or two from his pocket, slicing them skillfully with his Swiss Army knife and adding those homegrown tomatoes to his plate in local restaurants! He was also an expert handyman and carpenter; he worked for individuals and realtors around Riley County doing various odd jobs and yard work. Dad also enjoyed hunting and fishing, and anything outdoors!
Dad was a member of the Masonic Lodge, The Scottish Rite, Shrine, American Legion, Veterans’ of Foreign Wars, Retired Officers Association, served as a census taker, and was a generous contributor to KTWU Public Television, The Flint Hills Bread Basket, The Eisenhower Presidential Library, and to various other non-profit organizations. He was a charter member of Pine Valley United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, NC, and although he did not attend church in his later years, he generously supported ministries at Gardner Church of the Nazarene, Manhattan Church of the Nazarene, and Osawatomie Church of the Nazarene.
Dad lived an exciting life; his career in the USMC offered our family many adventures and a wonderful life. We are the proud survivors of a man who gave generously, to the best of his ability, to his country, to his family and friends: his wife, Dotty (Schmutz) White; daughter Rev. Daneale J. White of Olathe, KS, two sisters: Maxine Biggs of Abilene, KS, and Barbara Jean King of Fordland, MO; and sisters-in-law Naoma Foltz (Joe), Bev Schmutz & Sharon Schmutz of Abilene; brother-in-law Larry Schmutz (Marsha) of Nixa, MO numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family & friends.
My dad was preceded in death by his son Doug White; his parents and two siblings:
Robert L. White and Mary Beth (White) Lenhart.
Graveside services with Military Honors will held on Saturday, January 14th at 10:30 am at the Abilene City Cemetery. Family and friends are invited to a Memorial Luncheon following at the Abilene Senior Center, 100 N. Elm Street.
Online condolences may be left for the family by clicking on "Send Condolences" on this page. Memorial contributions may be made to Ministry Outdoor Adventures, https://www.facebook.com/MOAFoundation in c/o Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.