Christopher W. White, Esq., of West Grove, PA, who gave voice to the voiceless as a lifelong advocate for the poor, homeless, disabled, elderly, troubled and down-trodden people of Delaware, died Wednesday, April 21, 2010. He was 48.
Born June 1, 1961, in Boston, Chris grew up on Cape Cod in Orleans, Mass. He loved to play soccer and to swim and sail on the Cape.
Chris loved to play pranks on his friends and family, always followed by a hearty laugh. One of his classic pranks happened when his father, an Episcopal priest, was performing his annual Blessing of the Animals ceremony at church. Just as the service was ending, the church doors flung open and Chris walked in dressed as Big Bird. His father looked at him and said, "Sorry, I don't bless dummies."
Chris graduated from Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, Mass., where he was a leader of the student body. He went to Boston College, which he loved, and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1985. He worked as a paralegal with Casner, Edwards and Roseman Law in Boston. Chris then went to Suffolk University Law School in Boston, where he graduated cum laude with a juris doctorate degree in 1991.
During law school, Chris had a summer internship at Harvard Legal Aid, an experience that changed the direction of his life. He had pursued a law degree as a way to help people, and he had found it at Legal Aid. After graduation, he came to work as a staff attorney in Dover, Del., with Community Legal Aid Society of Delaware. He became managing attorney at the Dover office in 1994, then deputy director of the organization in 2000. He became executive director in 2005. In all, he devoted the past 18 years to Legal Aid's mission of providing civil legal services to low-income people.
Chris was a force in the community. He chaired and served on many boards and councils, including Shipley Village Community Development Corp., Delaware Association of Nonprofit Agencies, Whatcoat Social Services Emergency Shelter, the Governor's Advisory Council on Housing and Community Development, Delaware Homeless Planning Council, Delaware Coalition for the Homeless, Emergency Housing Assistance Fund, Delaware Housing Coalition, Delaware Interagency Council on Homelessness and Shepherd Place Homeless Shelter. He argued cases at the Delaware Supreme Court. He received the New Lawyers Distinguished Service Award from the Delaware State Bar Association in 1999 and the Kind Policy Award from the Delaware Housing Coalition in 1997. He served as Vestry member, Junior Warden and Senior Warden at Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew in Wilmington. Chris was an adjunct professor of ethics, advocacy, grant writing, fundraising, policy, criminal law concepts and constitutional interpretation at Springfield College's Wilmington campus. Chris was a devoted fan of the Boston Red Sox.
His most recent project was leading the redevelopment of an abandoned furniture store next to Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew. Two days after his death, a crowd of friends and associates gathered in the renovated building to dedicate Shipley Lofts as a live-work home for Wilmington's artists. The building's gallery has been named the Christopher W. White Gallery, and the nonprofit organization that oversees the project has been renamed the Christopher W. White Community Development Corp.
Chris wrote a new state law to settle conflicts between manufactured-home owners and landlords. He reworked New Castle County's landlord-tenant code so tenants could better understand their rights.
Chris was preceded in death by his father, the Rev. G. David White, who served as rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans, Mass.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Leandria Hall; his children, Josh and Kayla; his mother, Donna White of Brewster, Mass.; his brother, George H. White, and his wife Nadya and their son Andrew of Little Falls, N.J.; and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who loved him dearly.
A memorial service will be celebrated at Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew, 8th and Shipley Streets, Wilmington, at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, April 30, 2010. Interment will be at Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans, Mass.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Chris White Memorial Fund at Wilmington Trust Co., 1100 N. Market St., Wilmington, DE 19890, for the benefit of his family, or to CLASI, 100 West 10th Street, Suite 801, Wilmington, DE, 19801, to continue the work to which Chris devoted his life.
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