Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

October 31, 2012

Community mourns Edwina White

Warehouse founder and life of the party passes

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Edwina White didn’t start out in Corsicana but she adopted the community as her own, and left it a better place for her presence. She passed away Monday at the age of 81.

Edwina moved to Corsicana with her first husband, Ken Braden, but the couple moved away just as Edwina and half a dozen other local activists were getting the Corsicana Community Playhouse theater up and going, which would become the Warehouse Living Arts Center.

“She wanted to direct,” recalled Joe Brooks. When Edwina and Ken moved away, Joe became the first director instead.

A few years later though, Edwina was back in Corsicana and single. That was when she married Tom White, who had also divorced.

“Probably the happiest years of her life were with Tom White after they married,” said Sue Kerley, one of her friends.

After the couple moved to a “farm” near Richland Chambers Reservoir, they remained involved in community building, but also turned their hands to rural activities.

“They loved the farm and they would take in any stray animal, every last one of them,” recalled Sandra Huffman. “Their house was a kind of petting zoo. They loved their tomatoes and they would give those to the Elegance (the Navarro College fundraiser) and were auctioned off and they would go for outrageous amounts of money — $200 or $300 for tomatoes.”

Tom Adams and Edwina were friends through church, and he helped her throw parties. He said every year, she’d plant row after row of zinnias, and though he didn’t know why, exactly, she’d call him every year and tell him “the zinnias are blooming, come out and get all you want.” Even once her health problems dictated she have a caretaker, she would have them stop by his shop so she could hug him.

“I could see her smiling eyes,” Adams said, tearing. “She was a country girl with a precious soul, and a spirit that made me envious. The earth has less laughter without her. I loved her sweet soul.”

Tom White was involved in industrial recruiting, Edwina was involved in the arts and education. Both were outgoing and neither one met a stranger.

Edwina threw a New Year’s Eve party every year that was famous for when it ended — at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

“She liked to go to bed early and get up early,” Huffman explained. “We’d have the toast and the hats, and horns, and then she’d very politely tell everyone it was time to go home.”

After Edwina had a bout with breast cancer, she turned the party into a survivor’s party, which eventually became so packed that it was hard to turn around.

Many of the stories told about Edwina were of her trips to Mexico, a country she loved. She and Tom visited frequently, and they collected a wide variety of things from their trips South of the border.

Sue Kerley and her husband and their children were all on one of those trips.

“She was the most energetic, intelligent, loving person,” Sue recalled.

The trip began on a train, which derailed, then when they resorted to bus, their driver had a tendency to drive fast and drink beer while he was doing it. An attempt to fly back was foiled, so they ended back up on the train, Kerley said.

“Everything that could happen did on that trip,” she recalled. “It cured our children. Every time we’d mention ‘vacation’ they’d say ‘please leave us at home.’”

She was a lot of fun, according to her friends, but she suffered in recent years.

“She had health problems, and was in a nursing facility when she passed away,” Huffman said. “It’s really a loss. She was one of the most outgoing, incredibly vivacious people you would ever hope to meet in this city.”

A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Nov. 8, 2012 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, with visitation at 10 a.m. She will be interred in the church Columbarium next to Tom.

She is survived by one daughter, Julian Cirrincione of Fort Stockton, four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, five stepsons, three sisters, and many nieces and nephews.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com