Desmond Anthony White was born on September 27, 1942 in the city of Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. He and his late brother Leroy were born to Florence Rebertha Williams and Thomas Emmanuel White, who joined Desmond’s older brother Derrick and younger siblings, Kenneth and Gloria to the collective White family.
Desmond, like many young Jamaican men in Franklin Town, Kingston, was an avid lover of outdoor sports, friends, family and church. When not playing cricket and soccer with his friends at Doncaster in East Kingston, Desmond or “Des-I”, as he was affectionately dubbed by his friends, enjoyed slamming down dominoes with his buddies, cutting a rug on the dance floor, beach-going with his friends and frequenting church picnics. Following his Ellison High-School studies, he took the next step and fulfilled his style-conscious nature and artistic eye in training to become a tailor’s apprentice for the Davison Company. There at Davison he became a Merchant Tailor before venturing out into his own tailoring practice.
While in his teen and young adult years he also developed an amazing fascination for harmony and singing. The sharp tenor voice he developed in those years grew into a Spirit-driven passion for choral singing. After accepting the Lord and following in the footsteps of his Savior through the waters of baptism in 1962, he continued his active membership in The East Queen Street Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend J. A. Leo Rhynie. There he was a part of the Youth Choir Seminal, The East Queen Street Young Men’s Fraternal (aka, The Frats) and in 1964 helped spearhead The Youth Male Voice Chorus. At this time in his life, Desmond and his Frats, regarded as the handsome ‘Face Men’, traveled all over the island, spreading the word of the Lord through song. Through melody and mission he and the Frats sang for various institutions like the Nursing College of the University of The West Indies and annual conferences like the Jamaican Baptist Union. It was also at this time that another life-changing phase in his life began to take form.
One of the several churches that East Queen Street Baptist Church partnered up with every year in February to rehearse in communal choirs was Jonestown Baptist Church. It was during one of these encounters that Desmond met Joyce Monica Irving. The humorous, witty and sharp Desi cast eyes on Joyce and as she recalls, he remarked to the peculiar delight of seeing “her likkle mawga foot coming across the street”. This encounter started the 48-yearlong true love story of old romance, friendship and inspired dedication. Desmond and Monica married at East Queen Street Baptist Church on June 28, 1969. Their marriage was one of devotion, laughter, joy, fellowship, support, trust, balance and strength all rooted in the respect & admiration for what they had in common, a courage & commitment to face their differences together and a communal passion for, honor to and fear of the Lord.
In 1971, Desmond migrated to the U.S. to join Monica, start their family and became a member of the Bronx Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Reverend Dr. Samuel G. Simpson. This next chapter enacted a lifetime of memories that would pave the way for his legacy as devoted and tireless husband, father, brother, friend, deacon, choir leader, uncle, grandfather, tailor, godfather and driver. After years as a master tailor for new clients, old friends and UN dignitaries, he segued into becoming a school bus driver in the early 1990s and tirelessly juggled full days driving along with full nights tailoring. However, he always found time to serve the Bronx Baptist Church with leadership as head deacon, choir director, baptismal class leader, new members training as well as furthering his own personal theological studies through weekly seminary classes. He set exemplary tones for a great household through discipline, weekly bible studies, annual vacations with the God-given grace that allowed him to drive his family to see 42 of the 50 U.S. states and by instilling the value of education and hard work to his son’s. This was coupled with the understanding he demonstrated in the strength of learning to be steadfast in doing your anointed part while faithfully waiting on the Lord’s Will to be fulfilled. Some keys that all who knew Desmond could characterize him by were faith, family, friendship and food. He dearly loved and clung to his Lord, strived to create an example through discipline, morality, servitude and humor for his family and understood the value of loyalty & friendship. Lastly, at the end of a day of hard work stemming from his commitment to his families, Desmond loved and appreciated the restorative, welcoming and satisfactory value of a great plate of home-cooked food and always made sure to acknowledge a blessing for the hands that prepared it.
After illness caused his early retirement in 2005, Desmond moved south to Canton, Georgia where he and Monica lived until the Lord called him home on December 28, 2017. It’s important to note that while health ailments were with him for much of his life, although exhausted at times, Desmond’s faith in His Lord to sustain, humble and strengthen him to complete his tasks for his family and church’s livelihoods trumped whatever discomfort he often felt. He was loved and respected by all who had the pleasure to know the strong, sweet, sometimes vocal and oftentimes silent man with the handsome face that you couldn’t quite always read behind those tinted glasses. He leaves behind to cherish his love, memories, lessons and examples, his wife Monica of 48 years, his older brother Derrick, his younger brother Kenneth and youngest sister Gloria, a host of brother and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, his eldest and youngest sons Garfield and David respectively, his daughter-in-law Phoebe White and his two grandchildren Garrett and Gabrielle White. Desmond also leaves behind a host of loving, concerned and faithful friends, co-workers and church family from his formative years in Jamaica to his more seasoned years here in the U.S. who have all benefitted in some way, shape or form from the light, wisdom and care of Desmond’s heart. So sleep now Desi, Des-I, Uncle Desi, Daddy, Pop, Grandpa, Deacon White and finally rest your legs, turn off your sewing machine, turn off the engine of your trusty Suburban, receive your wings and rest assured knowing that your efforts were not in vain. You were heard & understood, loved & honored, respected & revered and you will be dearly missed and remembered fondly as a loving husband, devoted father, great friend and proud man of God.