Classmates in Memory

William (Bill) White (Teacher)

Bill White died at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas in 1991 of lung Cancer.

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08/11/09 09:00 AM #3    

JoEllen Glasgow (McVey)

Carol, Please tell Phil how much I enjoyed his post about Bill White. It brought tears to my eyes, as I could see him "leaping from his chair" to show off his successful student. That's the way he was. I saw him a year before he died. He was visiting his mother at Presbyterian Hospital. He was in the cafeteria sitting alone. I sat down beside him and without saying another word, I began reciting some of my lines from Bye Bye Birdie, "speak to me oh beautiful one, tell me how you make that glorious sound that, even now, in anticipation of it, has reduced me to a snarling, raging, panting jungle beast!" He laughed that unmistakable laugh and then hugged me. We sat and talked for a long time. He was quite a man.

03/29/10 11:35 PM #4    

Judy Davis (Sinkular)

My love of music comes from sitting in Mr. White's class. I thank Mr. White daily while I listen to classical music. One never knows what a teacher gives them

04/04/10 09:38 PM #5    

Martha Moore (Coxen)

Bill White definitely stands out as a favorite teacher of mine, since I was a pianist and now a professional musician. I was in his 9th grade choir at Greiner, 10th grade girls' chorus and concert choir 11th and 12th grades.

He taught us to sing correctly, to listen and blend, to be disciplined, to strive for perfection, and to be proud of what we did. Every eye was on him while we were on stage.

His passion for perfection was revealed in 9th grade chorus as he threw chair across the room when the tenors went flat. We knew from that time on he was serious.

I had the privilege of accompanying the choirs as well as singing.

Martha Moore (class of '65)

04/19/10 08:57 PM #6    

Carol Price (Lynch)

Martha - Do you remember how he would glare at us if our voice section was off key or were goofing off?  He could scare the "Pee" out of us, couldn't he?  But he was a great teacher.  I wasn't in the big choir but in the girls' choir but he let me be his "secretary" during the rehearsals so that I could be a part.  Very nice!

04/26/10 09:01 PM #7    

Martha Moore (Coxen)


That explains why every eye was on him.  We knew he meant business.



03/02/15 01:13 PM #8    

Robert (Bob) Switzer (Switzer)

Just a short reflection on  Mr. White, as I don't visit the site frequently and only in reading of his passing was I reminded of his contribution to my life.  I never could sing and was never in the choir at Greiner or Sunset but I recall Mr. White's amusement that country western was even considered music, and his Greiner class introductions to opera.  As a result of those clases, I had an interest in opera (does anyone remember a Greiner performance of Faust?) Later he provided an opportunity for me to become an extra in the New York Metropolitan's Dallas performances of Tosca, Aida, and Il Trovetore. Yes I wore Egyptian and Swiss guard costumes, and stood on stage with some of the most memorable voices in opera ... all at the age of about 15.  


I  did not not appreciate country western until after university when I moved to California, but I thank God for a teacher who would reach out to help a student experience music in a way that would create a memory to last a life time.  I lift a toast to your memory Mr. White ... and to your gift.  -- Bob Switzer 

03/03/15 12:42 PM #9    

Martha Moore (Coxen)


I was thrilled to read your comments about Bill White and how he influenced your musical experience that has continued throughout your life.  This was a different perspective than I had in choir.

As a professional piano teacher, I know that my students can enjoy their music for the rest of their lives in anyway that they choose, whether it is in a professional capacity or just enjoying and appreciating music ,and I am happy to hear from time to time and get feedback from them about how music has affected their lives.

Thanks for your addition to Mr. White's memory page.

06/05/15 10:37 AM #10    

Michael (Mike) McClure

Bill White reigned over my eighth grade music class at Greiner Junior High School with an iron bass clef. I both revered and feared him. I revered him for his demanding standards; he accepted nothing less than what seemed perfection to me. For example, during our Christmas concert, he had the boys chorus begin one particularly difficult piece three times, not satisfied until we had sung it correctly for the audience. A few years later, I sat mesmerized beyond my previous musical experience during the opening number of the Sunset High School production of Brigadoon and again during the choir’s holiday performance of the Catalonian “Carol of the Birds,” both of which Mr. White directed and neither of which have I ever heard equaled. On the other hand, I feared him for a number of reasons, among which was his revelation to us that as the result of singing one of his opera roles, he lost eight pounds. My juvenile mind reasoned that anyone powerful enough to work just his vocal cords to the point of losing that much weight during a single performance had to be fearsome.

My final semester in his eighth grade class, Mr. White required each student to stand and sing a brief solo for a grade, the prospect of which unnerved me. As my turn approached, I froze, unable to think of anything to sing. Inevitably, my “opportunity” to perform arrived. I stood and, having failed to gather my wits, continued singing what the person before me had begun from the point in the song where that student had left off. Before I had warbled many notes, Mr. White roared into a raucous laugh. The man whose hallmark was his sternness, at least in my mind, laughed at length and so loudly that he happily drowned out any further sound I might have made, and my trembling legs did not hesitate to lower me, with considerable relief, to my welcome seat. I deemed the entire episode nothing less than proof positive of divine intervention.

The following year, I chose to become part of Jean Brown’s ninth grade choir, instead of Mr. White’s, and also wrote for the school newspaper. One day, Mr. White stopped me as he ascended and I descended one of the Greiner stairwells. Petrified, I stammered, “Yes, sir?” The teacher I continued to revere and fear proceeded to praise a column I had written for the edition of the school paper that had just been distributed. Stunned, I hope that I managed to utter some semblance of thanks as I stared agape when he resumed climbing.

I cite the foregoing incidents because Bill White’s interactions with me both while I was enrolled in his class and after I selected another teacher’s class over his and his relentless efforts to achieve the highest quality performance with and for his students had a significant impact on my career in public education. I regret that I never had the opportunity to thank him.

06/05/15 05:39 PM #11    

Sheila Waters (Taylor)

I too feared and revered Mr. White, but also loved the discipline and perfection that he expected from all of us.  I have been in a choir both school and church since I was 4 years old.  What I learned from Mr. White has be invaluable.  I have used what he taught us in so many ways, especially in my teaching--dance, drill team and children's choirs.

The musicals were the most fun I have ever had.  I loved every minute of them.  I have gotten to experience them again as choreographer for the musicals in our high school.  The teachers even got to be in one of the first ones that we did, "Annie" as the Hooverville people.  My favorite was my grandson's senior year when he was the lead in "Grease".  I had put him in bit parts from the time he was 8 or so, but from Jr. High on he and his football friends were all in drama class and were in all of the musicals.  Seeing him in that role was the greatest.

Again the experience I had from our musicals helped me so much.  Mr. White was wonderful, even if he scared us to death.  Maybe our schools would not have as many problems now if more teachers could be like him. He certainly did not worry about hurting our self esteem.  He expected perfection and we did our dead level best to give it to him.

06/06/15 02:09 PM #12    

Robert (Bob) Switzer (Switzer)

Today I reopened and reread the comments about Bill White, having read the notices that Mr McClure, Ms. Waters and Ms. Moore had commented, as the notice jogged my memory to recall each of you with surprising clarity, and wanted to add a recollection that I often relate when remembering "my school days" whether Winnetka, Greiner or Sunset.  Even in elementary school I was actually in awe of Mike McClure whose musical talent as a pianist I saw in a talent show and complemted at Winnetka.  I think my only other Winnetka musical experience, if it can be called that, was our early efforts at square dancing...with my partner Charlotte Whitney whose box dinner I recall buying at auction at some staggeringly high price because I did not know I was supposed to put my arm down.  But magine the task of choreographing elementary children even for a square dance.    

My musical talent however did not continue to develop as each  of yours did. As I said above I was not in any of the choirs, and couldn't carry a tune, but as a student loyal to my school I did attend statewide chroir competition!  And I have told this story offen.

In a very large auditorium I sat through the competition as the little choir of 6 sang accompanied on the piano from some rural school, the larger choir from another, until the last act, "last year's champions" filed on stage.  And filed. And filed.  I think it took all of five minutes to get perhaps 5 rows of in position ... so long in fact that the announcer asked people not to leave, "I think your going to enjoy it."  I think Mr. Whites arm came down and I recall the rest as the fullest, most stunning, blisfull choral a capella I had ever heard (actually I hadnt heard anything like it!) and havent since ... and it was in Latin! 

I now live in San Francisco, where culture is considered accessible, where I could send my son to a boys school with a choir to develop his own musical appreciation, but Dallas is where I got hooked.

Thank you each for taking the time to write, but this memory, this one, is for each of you.     

Bob Switzer


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