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Lillian White

I met her when I was 18 years old. Now those two numbers are reversed, and with a bow to frank honesty I acknowledge myself to be 81. (Eighty-one? How can this be so? We will speak to that strange subject another day.) The husband to Lillian was Sam. My Jerry and I called the couple Brother and Sister White. We were all in church work; Brother White was the pastor of a church in Bellflower, CA. and Jerry was an evangelist. We wives toddled beside our men, making our unique contributions to life, and to the Work of God.

We became the dearest of friends. Together we worshipped, traveled, played, laughed (and cried), did business, pastored churches, planned conferences, cooked, ate great meals, celebrated weddings and birthdays and retirements over a period of more than sixty years. By then we had began using close names, and it was Sam and Lil and Jerry and Shirley.

Now, at 98 years old, she is gone, as is Sam (and is my Jerry.) Her sweet funeral was last Friday. (The following pictures compliments of Debbie Akers.)

She truly was a remarkable beautiful woman of God, and I believe it well within the mark to rank her with notable women of the Bible, and to revere her as such.

I nominate her to stand beside the chief women of Thessalonica who were among the first to receive the gospel at the preaching of Paul and Silas. As she labored in ministry with her beloved Sam, she is in line with Priscilla who labored in ministry with her husband Aquilla. I’ve seen her as strong as Deborah, and once when we wanted to begin Ladies Conferences and could be heard rumbles of disagreement in high places, she marched step in step with Esther and said, “If I perish I perish.” She was as capable as Abigail, as full of faith as the Syrophenician woman, as humble as Elizabeth, and as Mary, she was chosen of God. As was Dorcas, she was known for her good works. Perhaps John the beloved says it best when he dedicated one of his books to The Elect Lady.

Now she is gone, resting in the presence of God.

It was five years ago when Sam and Lil were visiting in our home in Crestline that I lined them up near the hearth of our fireplace to take their picture. How beautiful they are. Wrinkled. Used up.

(I would so love for you who knew the White’s well, to take the time to add your tribute in the comment section here.)

By Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 81 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She was married to Jerry for 64 years, and grieves yet at his death in August of 2019. They have 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)

22 replies on “Lillian White”

Thank you Sister…I net this couple a few years back at Junior Youth Camp in Show low Arizona, I was so drawn by their spirit. The kids were unaware who this couple was I was drawn to them. I was honored to have met them.


Sis. White will always be part of the duo of Sis. White and Sis. Buxton to me. You both served the Western District so faithfully in the Ladies Ministry. I was a teenager, then a young single lady, working at Truth Tabernacle when the annual District Board Meetings took place back in the 80s. You were both always so kind to me, just a girl answering phones, delivering messages, making copies or typing notes. Your godliness was a bright light. The fruit of the Spirit was evident whenever I saw you. And yet, you two always seemed to have fun while working so hard! Love and appreciate you greatly!


Oh Sister McElhany, how I recall those wonderful days of board meetings in Fresno and the great office staff there. Thank you for all you have done for the Kingdom of God. Surely it will not be much longer until we also rest in Jesus. Love you so very much. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment here.


Thank you Shirley for the tribute to a wonderful lady. What a precious photo and it makes sense that you took it!!

I don’t know really when our lives really meshed. It I met her for the first time years ago when I went to a ladies day with the late Carol Brookshire. Once she moved to AZ I connected with that little sweet sharp dressed lady at every district event she cane to. She always recognized me even tho she was losing her sight. Will never forget her smile, her voice and her hugs. We will meet again!


As I turned sixty last month, I have been reminiscing my walk with God and those that have had a part of making me who I am today. Bro. and Sister Buxton laid a foundation in me that could not be shaken. Ladies retreats and Sister White strengthed that foundation. As a young mother, the godly wisdom gleened from both of these beautiful women got me through many battles. Thank you.


It seems impossible, Glenda, that you are 60 years old. What a tremendous young person you were in our wonderful Rialto church. Never caused one bit of trouble! Thank you for the very kind words. It was a distinct pleasure for my husband to pastor you and your hubby. Again, thank you for being here and for taking the time to comment.


Proverbs 11 tells us that “a gracious woman retains honor.” What a gracious lady of God was Lillian White!

I don’t know life without Bro. and Sis. White, whom my family affectionately referred to as Papa and Grandma White. My dad was friends with Bro. White before either of them were in church, and their friendship lasted a lifetime. Who would have ever thought they would both become preachers and pastors?! Our families became best of friends.

I will miss the phone calls from Grandma White asking, “Jana, how was the ladies retreat?” She wanted me to tell her everything about it. Who spoke, who sang, what were the messages, how many were there, etc. And, then, how is the church doing? Her first thoughts were always about the work of the Lord.

Proverbs 31 addresses many virtues and I believe Grandma White had them all.
She was strong in her faith and loved Jesus with all her heart
She was a faithful wife who respected her husband.
She was “mothering” and cared for others as if they were her own.
She was healthy and took care of her physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
She was dedicated to the service of others.
She was a wise steward of the gifts God gave her.
She was industrious, a good manager of her home, spent her time on that which was good, and embraced beauty and godliness. A woman of great worth.

Some wonderful memories include the days Papa and Grandma White spent in Delano with our family, or sitting on the porch swing and, most especially, her singing “One God” to my grandson.

Beyond all the above mentioned, what I will miss most is hearing her pray and worship. Her praise was unrestrained and with her whole heart. In my mind, I can vividly recall her sitting on the front row at SoCal Ladies Conference and hearing her speaking in tongues, let out a “wooooo” and watch her take her cane and beat it on the ground with excitement. Oh, I loved her so much!


Thank you for your sweet tribute to Sister White. She invited me to share at the Ladies Conferences. Always sweet, humble and encouraging! As you are, she was uplifting and blessed the heart of others! God bless you abundantly!!


She was always beautiful!

Somewhere in the time slot between 1976-1980, I served as a Sectional Ladies Auxiliary Leader and became the District Ladies Auxiliary Promotional Director.

Lillian White worked so diligently to make this happen. The Western District had never had someone in this position before for the Ladies Ministries.

She went with me to meet the District Board. She had told me that they would ask me several questions and to be prepared!

They asked one question.

They asked what my vision was for the Ladies Auxiliary.

I told them that the past few years there were just a handful of churches that hadn’t given in the Mother’s Memorial offering and I wished that all of us could come together and make that 100%.

They reminded me that it would be a sacrificial offering for those churches. I knew it would be so and some of those churches were close to where my husband and I pastored and I was willing, to work beside them to make this happen.

Several of the ministers said they were ready to vote and I served in that position for nearly 3 years.

Sis White, The Ladies District Secretary and I traveled the California District on our Annual Mother’s Memorial Tour encouraging people to give.

And somehow it happened…after many miles, a lot of hard work and much prayer.

Some churches knew we were traveling and asked us to stop by during a Bake Sale or for a Ladies Tea that was a fundraiser as well.

Sis White said we should work it into our schedule to honor their efforts.

She was tireless, she loved the work of God and she daily asked God for guidance in leading the ladies of our district.

She was so stunning that people always flockedto her. Her presence spoke volumes.

And, she was always beautiful!


Rachel Smelser


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