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Hybridizer John White 1916-2010

Minot, Maine, USA

John White

John White was an innovative Iris hybridizer winning several awards: including the highest award for Japanese Irises, The Payne Medal for 'Dirigo Pink Milestone' in 2007.

John W. White of Minot, Maine, died peacefully on April 12, 2010 at the Hospice House in Auburn in the company of his family. He was born on April 20, 1916 and grew up on the Whiteholm Dairy Farm on Turner Street in Auburn. His long, happy and remarkable life was marked by many interests and accomplishments, including farming, real estate, competitive swimming, iris hybridizing, genealogy, history and public service. He was a warm and kind man, loving and proud of his family, and blessed with a legion of friends of all ages.

John graduated from Edward Little High School in 1934, and from Bates College in 1939, with a B.A. in economics. At Bates he was the captain of the Bates swim team, specializing in the backstroke under the tutelage of his coach and father, Harold S. White. He was married on June 28, 1941to Evelyn Jones, who he met at Bates. They shared an idyllic life on the Whiteholm Farm and later at the home they built in Minot. He was the farm manager and treasurer of the Whiteholm Farm dairy from 1941 to 1976, and established a second career as a real estate broker from 1977 to 1992, specializing in undeveloped farm and forest land.

During his lifetime, he was a director of the Lewiston-Auburn Red Cross, a member of the Twin County Farm Bureau and Androscoggin County Soil Conservation Commission, a director of the Maine Breeding Association, President and director of the Androscoggin Historical Society, a director of the Sarah Frye Home, and President of the Auburn Heritage Society. He served on the Auburn City Council from 1960-1968, the Board of Directors of the Auburn Urban Renewal Authority form 1969-1974 and the Town of Minot Budget Committee.

Following a full life of dairy farming, during which he employed progressive agricultural methods, John, with his wife Evelyn and son Edward, established extensive and admired flower gardens at their Minot home, specializing in varieties of iris, daylilies and hosta. John became nationally known for his hybridization of new and improved Japanese and Siberian iris, receiving many awards for his work, including the distinguished W.A. Payne Medal from the American Iris Society in 2007 for his creation Dirigo Pink Milestone. He was a member of the Maine and American Iris Societies, the Maine Hosta Society and the Japanese, Siberian and Pacific Coast Iris societies. He and Evelyn attended many national iris conventions together. At the time of his death he was working on developing the first pure yellow Japanese iris in the world.

He traveled extensively with Evelyn, including to Russia, Kenya, Alaska, England, Mexico, Central America, Canada and the Caribbean.

After "retiring" from farming, John also became a world-class competitive masters swimmer in the backstroke, training and competing until age 93. He was perpetually among the top three backstrokers of his age in the United States, and was ranked as high as second in the world in the 200 meter backstroke. He swam almost daily at the Bates College pool and counted among his friends many fellow masters swimmers and members of the Bates College Swim team.

John also had a lifelong interest in the genealogy of the White, Frye, Jones and Kilgore families, creating well annotated family trees going back several centuries, and traveling to England on several occasions to track down family heirs.

John is survived by five children - Edward White of Minot, John White and wife Anne of Auburn, Donald White and wife Terry of Auburn, Jeffrey White and wife Nancy of Cape Elizabeth, and Janet Schwanda and husband John of Freeport - twelve grandchildren - Megan, Matthew, Benjamin, Allison, Lindsey, Kurt, Josie, Kara, Peter, Jamie, Wade and Caitlin - and one great-granddaughter - Lily.

The family wishes to thank Dr. Kenneth Brodsky and the caregivers of Assisted Home Care and Androscoggin Home Health and Hospice.


Japanese: 'Dirigo Blue Plate', 'Dirigo Circle Pink', 'Dirigo Cloud Nine', 'Dirigo Debutante', 'Dirigo Delight', 'Dirigo Devil', 'Dirigo Editor', 'Dirigo Fancy', 'Dirigo Garnet', 'Dirigo Maiden's Blush', 'Dirigo Old Hundred', 'Dirigo Old Pewter', 'Dirigo Pink Milestone', 'Dirigo Pinwheel', 'Dirigo Plum Crazy', 'Dirigo Red Rocket', 'Dirigo Snowflake', 'Dirigo Star', 'Evelyn White'.

Siberian: 'Dirigo Black Knight', Dirigo Black Velvet', 'Dirigo By Design', 'Dirigo Handy Andy', 'Dirigo Indigo', 'Dirigo Lavender Fountain', 'Dirigo Ruffled Feathers', 'Dirigo Tiffney Pink', 'Dirigo Valiant', 'Elisabeth McEwen', Maurice Pope', 'Neat Trick'.

Species: , 'Dirigo Black Point'.

Species Hybrid: 'Dirigo Aichi Shiroi'.

Tall Bearded: 'Dirigo Amber Beauty'.
Topic revision: r19 - 08 Sep 2020, Pamina
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