Philip Myron White, Sr. , 92, of Mecklenburg, NY, passed away on Tuesday, September 3, 2002 at Lakeside Nursing Home of Ithaca, where he had been residing.
Born on April 19, 1910 in Schenectady, New York, Philip was the son of Arthur J. and Mary Eleanor Fish White. At the time of his father's death in 1918, Philip's family moved from the Adirondacks to Ithaca. In 1927 he, with his mother, three sisters, an aunt and his cousin, drove cross-country to stay with an uncle in Lemoore, CA. Phil graduated from Fresno High School in 1928, and while there was a Corporal in the ROTC Program "Pershing Rifles".
Philip and the family came back to Ithaca, and he was accepted at Cornell University in 1929. He was active as House Manager for both Phi Delta Sigma and Phi Kappa Tau fraternities, an active member of the Cornell Crew; a Campus Correspondent for the N.Y. Daily News, a class officer (currently Vice President) for his class for many years.
In 1934 Philip received his B.S. Degree in Nursery Management and married college sweetheart Nenetzin Lucina Reyna. The couple founded and became life-long partners in White Nurseries, Inc. The business was an innovative garden center concept located initially in the original Ithaca Shopping Plaza on Elmira Road. Ahead of their time, the business offered: commercial and residential design/landscaping, outdoor garden equipment like lawn mowers (and repairs), yard carts/tools, and bird feeders and food. Inventory included everything from lawn seed, fertilizer and pesticides to flower seeds, bulbs and dog food! Nenetzin White was 'The Girl with the Green Thumb', on WHCU radio for 15 years. This talk show aimed at helping the novice gardner and promoting business. (Nenetzin died in 1999.) The couple was active in the Ithaca Yacht Club, since the 1940's, always enjoying the time spent on their Richardson cruiser, OMAR. Philip was a Past Commodore of the Yacht Club (1963), and always enjoyed the many friends made there. Memories of their boating trips aboard OMAR, and extensive travels abroad, were often topics for pictures and conversation.
Many will remember traveling to Mecklenburg at Christmas time where he had one of the earliest 'U-Cut Xmas Tree' farms in the area. Hot chocolate and sugar cookies accompanied the trip to the Meck for your fresh cut Christmas tree. Phil was one of the earliest members of the NY Christmas Tree Growers Assn., actively promoting the U-Cut concept as well as being active in the Eastern Region of the American Nurseryman's Assn. and a licensed Landscape Architect.
Philip was also an active member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and Past Commander of U.S. Power Squadron's Ithaca Unit. He served on NYS Joint Legislative Committee on Navigable Waterways and was also Past President of Schuyler County Industrial Development Association. He served as the trustee of School District 36 (Mecklenburg) from 1935 until the centralization with Trumansburg in 1945, and then became a member of their Board of Education. In 1941 Philip was one of the charter members of Mecklenburg Volunteer Fire Co. storing fire equipment in his carriage house before the first firehouse was built. As a life member of the City Club of Ithaca he enjoyed their camaraderie.
Often referred to as Mecklenburg's unofficial mayor, and more recently active on the Resident Council at Lakeside Nursing Home, Phil enjoyed visiting with people in the community. An avid local history buff, he always had information, and an opinion, about past and current events. He wouldn't hesitate to pull a book out of his extensive library to prove a point. His commanding presence, with a quip and a smile, will long be remembered by all who knew him.
In addition to his parents, and wife Nenetzin, Phil was also preceded in death by his twin sisters, Ruth Brockway of Ithaca and Elizabeth Gere of Syracuse. He is survived by a son Philip (Beefer) M. White, Jr. (Mary) of Ithaca; a daughter Karen (ChiChi) Reyna White Allen (David M.) of Mecklenburg; 5 grandchildren, Lorraine White Frelier (Don) of Ionia, Mathew M. Allen (Mythia) of Herndon, VA, Deborah Allen Reynolds (Don) of Trumansburg, Nicole White (Diane Colburn) of Ithaca and Philip M. White III (Kelly) of Farmington, NY; 8 great-grandchildren, Abigail, David and Jeffrey Frelier, Matthew and M. Natalia Allen, Benjamin and Jennifer Reynolds of Trumansburg, NY, and Sean White; a sister Marney Martin Wilkie of Munster, IN and many nieces and nephews including 2 local nephews, Mark Brockway of Ithaca and David Brockway of Horseheads and 1 local niece Minette Jordan of Berkshire.
The family will be present to receive friends at the Ness Sibley Funeral Home, 23 South Street, Trumansburg, NY on Thursday, September 5, from 5 -8pm. On Friday, September 6, there will be a memorial service at the Mecklenburg United Methodist Church at 1 pm.All are invited to the White homestead, 6214 Route 79 in Mecklenburg, NY after the memorial service. The family would like to take this opportunity to thank staff and management at Lakeside Nursing home for their care and kindness.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Philip's memory may be directed to any of the following organizations: The Mecklenburg Volunteer Fire Company, (Mecklenburg, NY 14863); The Ulysses Historical Society, PO Box 455,Trumansburg, NY (14886); The Dewitt Historical Society , 401 E. State Street, Ithaca, NY (14850); or the Ulysses Philomathic Library, PO Box 705, Trumansburg, NY, 14886. For additional information please phone the funeral home at 1-888-534-5446.
Page Submitted By: Joseph L. Sibley, Director