Elizabeth Walker White


On November 15, 2011, Elizabeth Walker White of Vineyard Haven died peacefully in her sleep of pneumonia at Windemere. In two weeks she would have celebrated her 98th birthday.

Betty was born November 36, 1913, in Arlington to J. Murray and Elizabeth W. Walker. She grew up in Brookline and Waban, attending Runkle School and graduating from the Choate School in Brookline where she was an MVP in girls’ basketball and a keen tennis player. Betty attended Vassar College and received her B.A. from Boston University.

In 1935 Betty married W. Gordon White, also of Waban and Vineyard Haven. During WWII they lived in Rockville, Md., while Gordon was stationed at the Naval Observatory. After the war they made their home briefly in Waban and then for many years in Dover where Betty was very active as a Deaconess of the Dover Church and various community organizations. After Gordon’s business interests pulled them away to Yarmouth, Maine, and Amherst, New Hampshire, they returned to Dover where they lived until Gordon’s death in 1991. Betty spent 18 years in independent and assisted living at New Pond Village in Walpole and then two years at Windemere in Oak Bluffs.

Betty is survived by her two children, Carolyn Spengler of West Tisbury and Ken (Gordon) White of Vineyard Haven and their spouses, Arthur Spengler and Kitty (Katharine) White. Betty is also survived by her beloved sister, Janet Rosenfeld, 99, of Needham, her only sibling. One of the great highlights of Betty’s life were her grandchildren, Katharine MacPhail of Arlington and Will White of Acton, their spouses, Michael MacPhail and Susan White, and her great-grandchildren, ranging from two to 15 years old.

Betty had a droll wit and made fast friends readily. In particular, an American Field Service Danish exchange student, Hans Schrøder, of Denmark spent a school year with the Whites and truly became a second son to Betty and Gordon. The Whites and the Schrøders subsequently swapped multiple visits over the years. Remarkably, Betty learned to write Danish and carried on a decades-long correspondence with Hans and his late mother. It is testament to her warmth and caring that she quietly sustained these relationships for some 50 years.

The family is planning a celebration of Betty’s life in early June for friends and family at the family home by Lake Tashmoo. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations to be sent to Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, I Hospital Road, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 in memory of Betty White.