Mary Ella White was born on February 28, 1929 to Louis and Rosa Mae Underwood in Weed, California. As a middle child of six, she enjoyed playing with her siblings in the snow that fell from the peaks of Mount Shasta. She would remain a California native for the rest of her life, moving from the forests and rivers of her birth town to a white-paneled, two-story house in downtown Sacramento when she was thirteen years old, after her father, affectionately called âBig Daddy,â earned a position in the lumber business. She attended Shiloh Baptist Church and would spend her life encouraging people to be a positive influence on the world.
In 1947, she graduated from Sacramento High School and attended Sacramento City College for cosmetology. Her first job was as a Key Data Operator, where she managed punch cards for the State of California. However, she would discover another passion in 1966, when she began working as a Campus Security Monitor, a career she would continue for nearly forty years. The thousands of students she mentored at John Morse Elementary School, Luther Burbank High School, and John F. Kennedy High School adored her and affectionately called her âGrandma.â She was a guiding light in their lives, emboldening them to complete their educations. Students often recognized her outside of school halls, and once, when Mary was shopping at a Christmas boutique, the storeâs manager saw her, squealed âGrandma!â and embraced her. She would retire on May 25, 2005.
At a house party in Sacramentoâs Fabulous Forties, Mary met James Virgil White, the love of her life. The two would marry in 1950 and have four children, Bradford, Linda, Lorna, and Lynnette. Both James and Mary valued looking after others and would often encourage family and friends to stay with them in times of need. They were charter members of the River City-Go-Getters, a social club where they participated in fundraising dances. Outside of their commitments to charity, they attended parties, planted peach and apple trees in their backyard, and took several cruises together. Mary enjoyed additional travels to Greece, the Caribbean, New York, Hawaii, Yosemite, and Mexicoâthough her favorite destination was Disneyland, where she accompanied her grandchildren. Mary and James would be married for sixty-seven years before his death in 2017.
On Wednesday, November 16, 2022, after a full and impactful life, Mary passed away peacefully in her sleep. She is preceded in death by her loving husband James, son Bradford White, parents Louis and Rosa Mae, and siblings Juanita Rountree, Mable Tidwell, Beverly Gaither, Claudette Jackson, Irene Underwood, Louis Underwood, and Jack Underwood. She is survived by her daughters Linda Wilson (Clay IV), Lorna Madolora (Ellery), and Lynnette Bowen-White, her grandchildren Clay V (Jasmyn), Jonathan (Carrie), Sean, Nicole, Brandon, and Andrew, her great-grandchildren Skylar and Clay VI, and a host of other relatives and friends.
The family would like to send a very special thank you to everyone who assisted in their motherâs care. Mary will be remembered as a loving, kind person always willing to help others, and the family is grateful for everyone who gave the love she modeled by example.