John C. White Jr.

Sagaponack Farmer
John C. White Jr.

    John Corwith White Jr., the head of a family that has farmed land in Sagaponack since the early 18th century, died at home in Sagaponack on May 21 surrounded by his family. He was 91.
    The White farm encompasses more than 100 acres, from the ocean beach north to Montauk Highway, and Mr. White was a careful steward. He served on the first local land-use committee in 1957 and was a director of the South Fork Land Foundation for more than 30 years. He donated property that became the northern part of the Sagg Swamp Preserve, now held by the Nature Conservancy.
    In 2007, Mr. White and his wife, Elizabeth, were recognized by the Peconic Land Trust, Sagaponack Village, the Town of Southampton, Suffolk County, and New York State for their commitment, patience, and perseverance in protecting the bulk of their family farm from future development.
    Mr. White, who was known as Red, was born on Dec. 18, 1921, to John C. White Sr. and Aulis Ena Tuthill Tillotson White. He attended the Sagaponack School through the eighth grade and graduated from Bridgehampton High School in 1939.
    Fascinated with flying from an early age, he hitchhiked to Connecticut while in high school to buy a Piper Cub airplane. He flew it back using a road map for navigation. He attended flight engineering school at Mitchel Field in Uniondale. When he graduated he tried to enlist to serve in World War II but was turned down because he was colorblind.
    Instead, he was hired by American Airlines as a flight engineer in the Air Force Transport Command. The flights delivered supplies to the European theater of operations and carried back the wounded. The route was New York to Europe to the Azores, and then to Brazil before returning to New York. The assignment lasted three years.
    Mr. White eventually returned to take over the family farm when his father became ill and died in 1946. He and his farm workers raised potatoes and cucumbers for pickles, did custom grain harvesting and baling, and built and engineered equipment for that purpose.
    In 1947, he married Elizabeth Jean Chambers of Long Branch, N.J., whom he met while she was visiting her family in Sagaponack.
    In 1954, he joined the Bridgehampton Fire Department, where he served as captain of both the Packard Company and the Rescue Company. He became department chief in the mid-1980s. In 1999, the Town of Southampton recognized Mr. White’s 45 years with the volunteer fire service with a special proclamation. He continued as an active member, attending meetings until recently.
    Mr. White also served on the boards of the Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Sagaponack School. He was a trustee of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church and a leader of the restoration of the sanctuary there in 1964.
    His wife of 63 years died in 2011. Mr. White is survived by four children, John N. White, Barbara White Ford, Jeffery White, and Thomas White, all of Sagaponack, and one grandchild, Eliza Topham-White.
    Visiting hours are 7 to 9 p.m. today at the Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton. A firefighter’s service will be held there at 7:30 p.m. A funeral service is planned for 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church.
    Donations have been suggested to the Organ Fund of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 3038, Bridgehampton 11932, or to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978.