Thursday, May 21, 2015
St. Paul missionary Baptist Church
Earl Dewitt White, Jr. was born December 23, 1947 to Lillie Smith Starks and Earl Dewitt White Sr.at John Gaskin Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He passed away on May 13, 2015 at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Columbus, Mississippi.
He accepted Christ at an early age and was baptized at Cooper’s Chapel AME Church, his paternal grandparents’ church, in Memphis, TN. Later in life he became a member of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church. He displayed his God given talent and passion for music as the Minister of Music at St. Paul Baptist Church and later at Pleasant Grove Pooles Baptist Church until his death. He was a renowned and dedicated servant to the music ministry throughout the Golden Triangle area.
Earl received his high school diploma from J.W. Sexton High School in Lansing, Michigan, and his B.S. Degree in Computer Science from Michigan State University. He also attended Austin Community College where he was awarded certification for Advanced Activity Director and Director of Recreational Activities for Long Term Care Environment.
Earl’s early professional music career involved being the lead singer, the House Wrecking EW, for his father’s band, the Earl White Review and HNIC Show Band. His first single was recorded with Malaco Records, Jackson, MS and was entitled “Very Special Girl”. Upon transitioning from the entertainment arena, Earl co-founded, with his brothers, the Whitehouse Construction Company in Fort Worth, TX. Upon relocating to Starkville, MS he was engaged in management positions for several years at Flexsteel and Sitel. After Sitel, he took on a new endeavor as the Activity Director and Music Therapist at Rolling Hills Developmental Center.
Through his music, Earl touched so many lives. He was gifted in many genres of music. From jazz to gospel to country to R&B to classical. God gifted him with the ability to play and teach any and all kinds of music and instruments—trombone, keyboard and drums. In his lifetime, he has shared the stage with such artists as the late B.B. King, Bobby Rush, Johnny Taylor, the great Shirley Caesar and Albertina Walker, just to name a few. In his work for the Lord, no church, no choir was too small for his attention. He shared his gift with any who called upon him. As a teen, his first student was his baby brother, Leonard, whom he taught to play the drums. Earl’s greatest joy was found in using music to uplift others’ spirits and bring smiles to their faces. Though his spent his greatest time in music ministry, he still found time to participate in and was a proud Shriner and Mason in the Rising Star Masonic Lodge #31.
He leaves to cherish his memories: devoted wife, Tonoral; loving mother, Lillie Smith Starks of Dallas, GA; children, Kenneth of Lansing, MI, Aliesha and Gwendolyn Johnson both of Starkville, MS; grandson, Donovan Griffin of Starkville, MS; siblings, Mary F. Prater, Monica (William) Banks, Eva Maria White, Curtis (Jerlene) White all of Starkville, MS; Vernita Trice of Dallas, GA; Nancy (Darnell) Salley and Leonard (Willie) White of Atlanta, GA; Patricia (Metric) Harris of Columbia, SC; and Sparkle Seals of Buffalo, NY; sisters-in-law, Virginia (Willie) Neely, Marsha Gibbs all of Starkville, MS; Debra (Charles) Cockrell of Terry, MS; and Jeanette Johnson of Seattle, WA; brothers-in-law, Curtis (Doris) Reed of Naperville, IL; Ronnie (Shelia) Johnson, and John (Renata) Johnson all of Starkville, MS; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. Special mothers Ethel Vaughn “Mama Dee” of Starkville, MS and Doris Williams of Columbus, MS and the entire “Golden Triangle” area.
He was preceded in death by his father Earl Dewitt White, Sr.; maternal grandparent, Ella Smith; and paternal grandparents Earl and Laura Beach.