Earl S. White was born on Sept. 21, 1917, in Rosman, N.C., to Alfred M., Sr. and Buna E. (Sloan) White. He graduated from Rosman High School in 1934 and attended the first freshman class of a newly established two-year college in Brevard, N.C. He purchased his first home along with his sister and brother-in-law in Houston, where he had plans to attend Rice Institute. However, enrollment was at its limit for the year and there was no space available. Times got hard and Earl stepped in to help his brother-in-law in the meat market business in Houston. Earl and Carl Gill were sent north to see if they could set up an auction to purchase hogs. They set up pens just north of the square in Centerville. Earl was the bookkeeper and Carl was the auctioneer. Things went well and the two men eventually set up a sale in Madisonville as well. They continued to travel to different sales where Earl eventually learned the art of auctioneering. This began a long career of crisscrossing Texas, auctioneering and bookkeeping at various sales.
In 1940, Earl and his brother-in-law opened the Livestock Auction in Calvert. They both took turns auctioneering when the other was tired or not feeling well. World War II was in full force, and Earl decided to join the U.S. Army. He served in Germany and France, intending to work as a gunner in a tank. However, a supply clerk was desperately needed, and Earl was chosen by his superiors to fill this position. He was never able to see the inside of a tank. Upon his honorable discharge in 1945, Earl picked up right where he left off, continuing to auctioneer and set up sales across the state of Texas. He eventually purchased a ranch in Montgomery County. While living there, he served on the school board.
Earl was a very civic-minded individual and always gladly served where he could, including president of the Texas Livestock Association (1965-1966) and the Madisonville City Council (1975-1981 and 1990-1994).
Earl decided to try his hand at land developing with his brother-in-law and did so for many years. He finally ended up in Madison County around the late 50s where he formed a partnership with Bill Andrews in the Madison County Livestock Auction. In 1974, Earl decided to sell his part of the business and become a full-time rancher and land developer. However, he was called to serve as vice president under Datus Sharp at the First National Bank in 1975. Earl had two sons, Russell and Michael, and he was always active in their various projects. He married Martha Alston Wilkey in 1981 and became a father figure in the lives of Duane, Sherri and Stephanie. Earl retired from the bank in 1983 and continued to ranch and enjoy family life and friends. Earl and his wife were members of the First United Methodist Church where he served on several committees. They sold their cattle business in 1999, but continued helping various family members with their ranches.
Earl’s purpose in life was to be the best he could be in anything, and he succeeded at doing so. He was a husband of more than 36 years and father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. He leaves a legacy of hard work, determination and service to his community.
Earl passed away on Aug. 10, 2017, at his home in Madisonville. He was preceded in death by both of his parents; son, Russell E. White; grandson, David Clinton White; brother, Alfred M. White Jr.; and sisters, Edna White and Amy (White) Neal. Surviving family members include wife of 36 years, Martha L. White; sons, Michael A. White (wife, Madie) and D. Duane Wilkey (wife, Linda); daughters, Sherri Crofford (husband, Danny) and Stephanie Neal (husband, James); sister and brother-in-law, Dovie and Gilbert Coan; 12 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Earl is also survived by sisters-in-law, Nancy Hummel and LaVerne Foster; brothers-in-law, Clyde Alston (wife, Madie) and Percival Shauger; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.
Funeral services will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, at First United Methodist Church in Madisonville. Interment will follow in the Leona Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, at Madisonville Funeral Home.
Madisonville Funeral Home is in charge of all arrangements. Please log onto www.madisonvillefuneralhome.com to leave condolences for the family on Mr. White's memorial webpage.