Looking for the 'P's I saw Obituary, entered it and found this one of my classmate, Jimmy White. We graduated 8th grade together. After college, he and his sister rose high in their careers in DC. They were both shy, quiet. Jimmy's life was quite unique. A few years ago he sent me several catalogs of beautiful botanical drawings on display at Carnegie-Mellon Institute. This was a couple years before he died. He gave no clue of his illness. I treasure the beautiful artworks an will be reminded of Jimmy as I look them over and remember him as the young man he was, so quiet and mannerly.
After I read the obituary, I went to Google for information about Carnegie-Mellon Institute. I was amazed by it all. So many different styles of architecture within one campus. Every building exquisite in style. Pictures, paintings, Museums galore. A thriving institute. More to explore. You won't be disappointed if you check it out. I wish I could walk; I would go see it all
Obituary: James Joseph White / Courtly curator of Carnegie Mellon's Hunt Institute
May 6, 1941 - April 12, 2011
April 18, 2011, 9:30 AM
By Moriah Balingit Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Depending on whom you talked to, James Joseph White was a world-renowned curator of botanical art, an enthusiastic Civil War re-enactor, an expert archivist, a parrot enthusiast, an obsessive collector or a patron of Indian classical music.
"When he discovered something that fascinated or intrigued him ... he became deeply involved," said Maggie Forbes, director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, where Mr. White helped preserve Civil War artifacts.
Mr. White, former curator of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University, died Tuesday of a degenerative neurological disease. He was 69.
Mr. White was born and raised in Johnson City, Tenn., where his sister said he taught himself to play the piano by ear, raised birds, maintained a model train collection and amassed collections of coins, stamps and butterfly specimens.
He went on to attend East Tennessee State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He later moved to Washington, D.C., where he took classes in botany at George Washington University, art classes at the Corcoran Museum of Art and headed the Herbarium Services Unit at the Smithsonian Institution.
At the Smithsonian, he told colleagues he would often stumble upon original botanical art in the drawers housing the institution's herb collection, and his passion for the art was born. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1978, joining the Hunt Institute as a curator, and was instrumental in expanding and cataloging the institute's collection.
In 1996, he traveled to Bangalore, India, on a Fulbright Award to catalogue a colonial era collection of botanical art, spending hours in a stifling hot library to catalog more than 1,000 works and later put the work of many Indian artists on exhibition at the institute. He developed a deep appreciation for Indian culture, later practicing Sikhism and helping to establish the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth at CMU.
Lugene Bruno, a curator at the institute, called him "meticulous and diligent" in his work. He cataloged the institute's entire collection and put it on the Internet, making it a valuable resource for artists worldwide. Near the end of his career, the American Society of Botanical Artists named their award for excellence after him.
"He was like an icon among [botanical artists]," Ms. Bruno said. He was a widely known authority in the field, but was also a nurturing mentor, she said.
Outside of the institute, Mr. White threw the same fastidiousness and passion into his interest in the Civil War, sparked by a trip to Gettysburg, said his sister, Brenda White.
He was a surgeon, flag bearer and infantryman with the Pennsylvania 9th Regiment of Civil War re-enactors. Fellow re-enactors marveled at the earnestness of his performance and his meticulously kept uniform.
Exceedingly soft-spoken and shy in his daily life, Mr. White was transformed and electrified during re-enactments, brandishing a musket in mock battles. And more than one person remarked that even out of uniform, his mannerisms, posture and general affect were of another century.
"It was just his diction and very much his look," said Ms. Forbes. "He stood ramrod straight ... and was always courtly."
Ms. White said her brother always reminded her of Abraham Lincoln, "tall and thin."
In the 1990s, Mr. White lent his skills as a curator to the Andrew Carnegie Free Library's Civil War room, once a meeting place for a post of the Grand Army of the Republic. The room had been sealed off to preserve the artifacts because the library did not have the money to preserve them. Mr. White was instrumental in cataloging the works and preserving the paper artifacts -- diaries and letters of Civil War veterans -- for the library. His uniform is now on display there.
After Mr. White was diagnosed with frontal lobe atrophy, a friend helped him auction off his extraordinary collection of botanical art, on display in his meticulously kept Victorian home, to pay for his nursing home care. He was living at Kane Regional Hospital in Scott when he died.
"If I could live half the life he did, I'd be happy," Ms. White said.
Mr. White is survived by his sister.
|Cargenie-Mellon Institute - areal view|
My belief is that Jimmy led a very calm peaceful life, enjoying every minute of it. Reading this I knew from whom he'd taken several traits. His father was a clean-neat-freak (sorry) married to my aunt. He drove her berserk. LOL