Bill White: My Friend, Ex-Oklahoma Football Player, Ex-Vietnam Helicopter Pilot Passed Recently [ 9/17/18]!
The day that music died!
Death is a common occurrence in my part of Florida. No one expects to outlive an arbitrary lifetime number, especially when that life time was replete with danger, action, and adventure. Many things could be said about my friend Bill including that he was a big man who was a helicopter pilot in Viet Nam. After the military, he became a pharmacist and made art from glass in the Keys. He and I became friends for reasons which I still cannot fathom.
As I ruminate over his life, I wonder how a 5’ 6” man born in Cuba and raised in Harlem, NYC could have anything in common with a 6’ 5” ex-football jock from Oklahoma State? I was a refugee. He was an all-American from Amarillo, Texas. However, somehow we two belonged together.
The one episode that sealed our two desperate fates was an unusual episode that occurred months before his imminent death from Agent Orange-induced throat cancer. One day when Bill was working in his workshop, an illegal sanctuary of manufacturing which he had irreverently inserted into a residential neighborhood located in the north central Florida. I had asked him one very simple question.
“Where was Buddy Holly, the famous Rock n Roll singer of the 1950’s born?”
Usually a very smart more mature person would have responded, “Who the fuck cares?” I would have been rightfully put in my place.
However, Bill knew that whenever I would asked him a question, it would often revolve around some insignificant point of knowledge that he knew that he should have known.
“I don’t know!”
“Where did you grow up in Texas?” I asked knowing full well that the answer would irk him to no end.
“How far is that from Lubbock, Texas?” I asked disingenuously.
“Oh shit! It’s just over the horizon.” He paused. Then he asked, “Are you shitting me?”
“You mean Buddy Holly was born a few stinking miles away from me?”
“I guess so!” I answered, knowing fully well that this point of information would create a harangue directed at himself and, of course, at me.
“How does a Cuban from NYC Harlem know more about Texas than a Texan?” He smiled.
“Esoteric facts are what I learned at my college.”
“You’re not shitting me?” He paused, adding, “Are you?”
“Look it up in your I-phone!”
Still mistrusting my answer, he did exactly what I told him to do. “I’ll be damned! He was born in Lubbock, Texas!” He paused and added, “Do you know what a shit-hole Amarillo and Lubbock were?”
“Not worse than Harlem NYC!”
“You’re probably right!”
That was the last meaningful conversation which I had with my dear friend, Bill White, Oklahoma –All-State- Football-Champion, Pharmacist, Glass artisan.
So long and remember that “will be the day when you say good-bye”! Bill leaves his beloved wife, Rosie and his two yorkies Sassy and Rockie.
May you finally Rest in Peace!
You have suffered enough!!