Richard White

Obituary of Richard Frederick White

Richard Frederick White, of South Salem and formerly Bedford, NY, died peacefully at home on Tuesday, November 7th, at the age of 95.

Dick is survived by his wife, Patricia Herlihy White, to whom he was devoted for 67 years. Additionally, he leaves two daughters, Lisa White and Pamela White Shea (David), a son, Douglas White (Amy Wilbur), four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren all of whom adored him.

Richard was born in Lancaster, MA, and was known as Sonny to his family. He was the second oldest of seven and is survived by a sister, Joan Gosselin of Franklin, New Hampshire, and a brother, Ron White, of Palmetto, Florida.

Dick always had a love of flowers, plants and gardening as did his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. After graduating high school, he worked in various family businesses as well as part time in the US Post Office.

Dick was a veteran of the Korean War. Due to his job with the Post Office, when he was drafted, he was sent to Germany to handle the mail for the Army’s 2nd Armored Division headquarters. During his two years in Germany Dick took the opportunity to travel - the only time he ever visited Europe - which was an experience he treasured.

After leaving the Army in 1952 he took advantage of the GI bill and graduated with a degree in horticulture from the University of New Hampshire, becoming the first member of his family to graduate college.

His first job out of college was working on an estate on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. Fate, and the women in the small town, conspired to match him up with Patricia Herlihy, whose family ran a local bed & breakfast. It was love at first sight and six months later they were married. They would have been married 67 years this December.

The couple soon moved to Skaneateles, NY, where Dick worked caring for the gardens of Miss Smith of the Smith Corona typewriter family. While there, Pat and Dick had their three children. To be closer to family the young family moved to Alpine, NJ, where Dick worked on the estate of the Braga family for about 15 years. In 1976, Dick took a job working for the Rockefeller family in Bedford, NY, where he worked until he retired at the age of 91.

During the roughly 63 years he worked as an estate gardener, Dick always had a greenhouse where he carefully propagated and grew plants to ensure the homes he cared for were full of beautiful blooming plants year-round.

He created and managed formal gardens and vegetable gardens as well as supervising the maintenance of the estates. He had crafted an uncomplicated life for himself that allowed him to enjoy nature and the plants he loved and left time to pursue hobbies such as mineral collecting, woodworking and raising orchids. He led by example, instilling an appreciation for the natural world in his children and grandchildren. 

Dick was creative with an easygoing and thoughtful personality, enjoying some good-natured teasing and pranks. He was often described as a gentleman. He will be missed terribly, but his legacy lives on in the family he raised.

As he wanted, his burial will be private with some of his ashes scattered in a place special to him. If you wish to honor his memory, he would be happy to know that you enjoyed a garden or walk in the woods with him in mind.  For online condolences please visit


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