John, age 93, went to be with the Lord on Thursday, January 5, 2023 in Kansas City. John was born to John (Sr) and Josephine (Carlson) White at home in Washington, KS joining his sisters, Clara (White) Heilman, JoAnn (White) Beeson, and Fay (White) Kurz. He was baptized and confirmed in 1954 at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan, KS. In his early years, his family and friends called him Johnny. John graduated from Clay Center High School and shortly after graduation joined the U.S. Army and proudly served as a corporal in the Korean War from 1951-53 stationed in Germany. He earned the outstanding soldier award several times and still had the silver chalice to prove it along with a story or two about the chalice and the ensuing mischief.
John attended Emporia State (then known as Kansas State Teachers College) and Kansas State University. He met the love of his life, Mary Jocelyn Schroedel (of Parsons, KS) at a Kappa Delta social gathering at the K-State Canteen in August 1953. John and Mary were married on July 11, 1954 in Parsons, KS. Mary taught in a nearby community while John finished his teaching degree at K-State. He graduated from K-State in 1957 with an industrial education degree. He earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Wichita State University in 1963 and was very close to achieving his doctorate degree.
John worked his entire life in the field of education. He taught school, was a school principal in Mt. Hope, Augusta and Haysville. He taught industrial arts, drafting and building at Pratt Community College before moving to Wichita to work as an administrator in vocational education for USD 259. He ended his career as one of the head administrators of Wichita VoTech in (which is now WSU Tech) in 1991.
Because he and Mary were in the education field, in the early years, they had summers off. He managed city pools for a few summers and in the early 70s, took his family to Camp Pioneer on Lake Erie in New York for several summers. John managed the grounds and the grounds crew, Mary managed the dining hall, and the kids had various jobs around camp. The family traveled the area on their days off.
John was affectionately nicknamed “Tinker” as he loved using his hands to work and repair. He never hired a service person at home, never took his cars to be worked on by mechanics until later in life, and spent many years repairing and building computers. He could often be found in the evening out in his garage “tinkering” with something or helping one of his kids or their friends with car repairs. He loved figuring out the problem, searching out parts, and repairing cars. All anyone had to do was mention what was wrong with their car and he’d quickly come back with a diagnosis and it was almost always correct! There wasn’t anything he didn’t know how to fix. He also curated a beautiful backyard and garden.
John was a builder and finish carpenter as well. He taught many young students drafting, how to frame and build structures. He built fences, porches, finished basements, and helped his kids in their homes with a myriad of projects. In his later life, he loved watching YouTube channels dedicated to building structures and car repairs.
John volunteered and had a servant heart as well. Following retirement, he focused his tinkering on computers. He rebuilt and repaired computers for many friends, neighbors and family and gave away many of the computers. He volunteered at Bethesda Thrift Shop in Wichita repairing all of the donated computers and parts for resale. He mentioned recently how he loved to stop at Livingston’s Diner for a burger and grilled onions on the way to or from his volunteer job at the thrift store. Family members knew that Mary required him to use his wages to pay for his computer hobbies and his frequent trips for pizza or Dairy Queen in Andover, KS.
He retired from USD 259 in 1991. John and Mary then began to travel with Laborers for Christ through the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. They lived in their RV on site and served on teams assisting with construction at local churches in College Station, PA; Mascoutah, IL; Cheney, KS; San Antonio, TX; Davenport, IA; Howard’s Grove, WI: and Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Leawood, KS. While a member at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Wichita, KS, he volunteered with Lutheran Braille projects.
Above all, John had a love of life. He loved traveling and adventures. The family vacations while the kids were growing up were always fun, always in the yellow Chevy station wagon or one of the vans he owned later, and always included one of the kids as the map reader. The family traveled throughout the U.S. on adventurous trips. All three kids got their love of travel from these family car vacations which often included an unplanned stop or activity. He and Mary would travel to KC, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida to visit their kids and grandkids. They were always eager to celebrate milestones, offer help or visit and catch up. They took “mystery” bus trips to unknown destinations and traveled abroad on several occasions. John volunteered on mission trips, attended Glenn Miller Festivals in Iowa, and was always “up for a trip” or out for lunch or dinner at restaurants. He loved food and was spoiled by Mary who was a talented cook and homemaker.
And, John was a storyteller! He could recount any detail of any moment in his life up until a few days before his death. He always had a story to tell and enjoyed talking and never met a stranger. He definitely had “the gift of gab!” John was a substitute teacher until age 85 and many local students loved having him as a sub, because they didn’t have to do any schoolwork and could just sit back and listen to his stories! He frequently got warm greetings around Andover and the surrounding communities from current and former students.
He was very active on several different social media accounts up until his death. He loved “following” all of his kids’ and grandkid’s friends and keeping up with their posts. If you told him your last name, he’d probably friend you on Facebook shortly thereafter. He also loved reading books on his iPad and was happy to retell the story plot and twists.
John rarely had a bad day and often saw the bright side of a situation. He didn’t take life too seriously and had the best attitude about everything. He always had incredible clarity of mind. He was fun to be around and in the past 6 months, was a joy to his caregivers in the hospital or at his senior living facility. We are thankful for the Brookdale and Westchester Village communities and the home he had at both places.
John’s family moved around a lot when he was younger due to his dad working as a crane operator on bridge and dam projects across the U.S. He was born in Washington, KS and the family settled in Clay Center where he lived until 1951. John also lived in Manhattan, Augusta, Wichita, Pratt, Andover, Leawood, and Lenexa, Kansas. John lived on his own until this past summer when he moved to Westchester Village in Lenexa. John was preceded in death by his parents, three sisters and his wife, Mary Jocelyn Schroedel White who died in 2018. They were married 64 years. John is survived by his three children and their spouses: Sheril (White) and Brad Hagler (Kansas City, MO); Kent & Martie (Lange) White (Bonita Springs, FL/West Lafayette, IN); and Dana (White) and Mark Bolar (Prairie Village, KS); and many nephews and nieces. John loved spending time with and supporting his grandchildren and their families: Christopher (Tracy), Kimberly (Leroy), Austin (Katy), Abby (Paul), Avery, Graham and Blythe; and great grandchildren, Vanessa, Myles, Leila, Marcus, Marianne, Lane, John, Piper, Silas, Hudson, and Ruby. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations, in John’s memory, to the 12 days of Christmas Campaign at Bethany Lutheran Church, 9101 Lamar Ave, Overland Park, KS 66207 or online at bethany-joco.org/give and note the 12 Days of Christmas campaign which will be used for new sanctuary lighting and fire/alarm system. John was born, baptized and died all within the 12 days of Christmas.