Victor White was a creative man who enjoyed a diverse palette of interests throughout his life, but his greatest passion was his pursuit of learning. He was very active with the theatre groups in his community where he also established friendships that were of the utmost importance to him. Victor served his country in the Air Force over a twenty year period during which time he was also blessed with the children who brought him so much joy. Although life was not without challenges for Victor, he faced each head on and continued on with the life he loved.
Although America was greatly oppressed during the year 1935 due to the Great Depression, American enthusiasm and optimism remained. Culture within our nation continued to grow with George Gershwin’s work being heard in New York and authors such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald continuing to delight their readers. It was also during this year that Homer and Frances (Stein) White, of Peoria, Illinois, welcomed the birth of their son, Victor, on May 21st. Victor was one of three children in his family and was of Russian Jewish descent and his great-grandfather, John Warren White, was one of the raiders who followed the leadership of John Brown, an abolitionist of slavery, during the civil war. Victor’s mother was a professional singer who traveled extensively to resort areas in order to entertain audiences. His father was also gone often as he found work in the casinos leaving Victor to be raised by his Uncle Harry during their absence. Victor formed a close relationship with his uncle during the times he stayed at his house. Victor’s parents divorced, and his father remarried Mary. Victor was blessed with two additional sisters from his dad’s second marriage, Linda and Candy.
During his formative years, Victor’s family relocated to Wisconsin, settling first in Waukesha. He attended Waukesha High School until due to his parents’ careers, their family moved to Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Victor attended Wauwatosa East High School where he became involved in the theatre which ignited within him a passion for the dramatic arts that would remain throughout his entire life. It was while he was in high school that Victor met a young gal, Chloe Wendel, with whom he became friends. It wasn’t until after he graduated from high school in 1953, that Victor and Chloe became more than friends.
After high school Victor worked as an usher in one the theaters downtown and Chloe worked for one of the women’s apparel stores downtown. With a need to get downtown, both Victor and Chloe rode the streetcar to work each day where they renewed their friendship which eventually blossomed into true love. In August of 1954 Victor entered the United States Air Force and worked on the base newspapers as a staff writer and editor. This was to be the work he would enjoy through out his military career, going to different Air Force bases, to work on the base newspapers. During his time in the service Chloe remained in a prominent position in his heart and the two were married in 1956.
Victor’s career in the military often reassigned him to many parts of the country and his new bride went right along with him. From 1958 thru 1960, they were stationed in White Sands, New Mexico where their family grew to include their son Damon. From New Mexico they went to Fairbanks, Alaska where Victor pursued his love for the theatre and received a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree from the University of Alaska. They then were stationed in South Carolina where their son Aaron and daughter Andra were born. While there, Victor was part of the Sumter Little Theatre.
From South Carolina Victor was stationed in Germany and Texas. It was at this point in his life that he and Chloe divorced, but he would forever be so thankful for the children that came as a result of their union. Victor was then assigned to Southeast Asia, and Thailand. In order to deal with some personal issues, Victor then returned stateside and eventually left the service. He retired from the Air Force as a staff sergeant with 20 years of service.
Retiring from the military precipitated a time of adjustment for Victor during which time he moved in with his mother because his step-father had died. This left Victor to become the man of the house. Since he was receiving his retirement earnings from the military, Victor was able to pursue some of his other interests including glass spinning, jewelry making, and he even earned his associate degree in interior design. However, community theatre was the center of his life along with the friends associated with the theater. This was such a great outlet for Victor with many roles for him to play as well as many plays for him to direct and review. Some of Victor’s favorite roles to play were Otto Frank in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and King Duncan in “Macbeth.” Victor became a well-known figure in the Milwaukee Community Theatre acting, directing, and reviewing plays. He also served as the president and board member of the Village Playhouse of Wauwatosa, one of the area’s premiere theatre groups.
Later in life health issues reduced Victor’s activities, but did not squelch his love for learning. Reading was probably his favorite hobby along with playing Scrabble and chess. Victor also enjoyed collecting stamps, honoring his Russian Jewish heritage collecting Russian stamps, and he also collected Wizard of Oz memorabilia. Additionally Victor enjoyed exploring alternative world views; he studied Eastern religions, tarot and even eventually returning to rediscovering Judaism. In 2007 health issues forced Victor to leave his home on 70th Street and move to Chai Point on Milwaukee’s east side. When he later needed additional help, Victor moved to the Jewish Home and Care Center where he later drew his last breath.
Like a magnificently composed symphony, Victor White brought so much harmony and feeling to the moments he shared with so many others in his life. He was a man of great intelligence who loved learning and touching others through the theatre groups within his community. Victor was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, and friend to those who will forever cherish his memory. He will be dearly missed.
Victor R. White died on November 5, 2009. His family includes his children, Damon (Julie) White, Aaron (Jackie) White, and Andra White; grandchildren, Adam, Jessica, Erika, Natalie, and Katie White; siblings, Brian (Barbara) Benson, Sharon (Ken) Nadeau, Linda White and Candy Wilcox; dear friends, Thomas Zuelke, Judy Tarbox, Jane Preston and Ann Marie Cheney; 8 great-grandchildren; as well as other relatives and many theatre friends. Visit with Victor’s family and friends on Monday November 9th at the Funeral Home from 5:00 p.m. until time of the Funeral Service at 7:00 p.m. Interment Southern Wisconsin Veteran Memorial Cemetery, Union Grove, WI. Arrangements provided by Suminski Family Funeral Homes, Suminski / Weiss, 1901 N. Farwell Ave (414) 276-5122. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a favorite memory or photo, or sign his online guestbook.
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