Norris White Obituary – West Rock Hill Township, Pennsylvania

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NORRIS STANLEY WHITE Mr. Norris Stanley White, 87, of West Rock Hill Township, who worked as a carpenter, woodcarver and woodturner, passed away from congestive heart failure on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011. Mr. White is the son of Edith Marion. [Stemple] Edwin Norris White was born May 5, 1923. He grew up on farms in Bucks and Montgomery counties, served in the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II, married and had five children, worked as a union carpenter, worked for the West Rock Hill government, and participated in woodturning and carving clubs and competitions. Mr. White’s joy in life was carving and turning wood. His work won so many ribbons and awards in competitions that he made small quilts and wall hangings with them. In the “Horizons 2000: Artist Woodturners” exhibition, New York Times art critic Beth Lievenson called his work “the hit of the show. His leather-soft baseball gloves and balls turn out to be hollow, but stitched together like the real thing.” The American Association of Woodturners (AAW) featured his “Tools of the Trade” baseball set in its juried and invited exhibition, “Step Up to the Plate.” The exhibition opened at the Louisville Slugger Museum in conjunction with the AAW 20th Anniversary Symposium in Louisville in 2006, then toured the United States for a year. White especially enjoyed outdoor art shows where he could display his work on his homemade treadle lathe and give wood-turning demonstrations. He was sociable and loved to talk to people. He made little joke items to start conversations, such as “tuck” shelters, “silly sticks” and “chicken dinners.” When visitors were annoyed and didn’t know the punch line or how to do the joke, he would demonstrate and make everyone laugh. His business card said, “I enjoy woodworking,” and he did. White began carving animals, such as squirrels and rabbits, when he was 15 years old. After building his own house in 1954, he returned to carving. At that time, his work was mostly free form. He participated in the Delaware Valley Woodcarving Club and the Wilhem Schimmel Carving Club in Pennsylvania. He carved many birds and other small animals, including weasels and bear cubs. He began turning wood on a lathe around 1985, when he used the lathe to polish many bells that he and his wife, the late Mary Gorman White, had collected over the years. He then became fascinated with turning and joined the Bucks AAW Woodturners Chapter and the Keystone Woodturners Club. He also participated in TURNstyles – The History and Art of Woodturning, a Bucks County art mobile program. Mr. White made furniture such as tables, cradles and wishing boxes. He repaired many wood products, from spinning wheels to antique easels. He carved and lathed walking sticks. Although Mr. White had enormous fingers and hands, he ground small wooden beads to make necklaces. In the late 1990s, Mr. White ground and made deadeyes, blocks and other rigging from Osage orange wood. The Sultana is a replica of an 18th century schooner that the nonprofit uses as an educational vessel on the Chesapeake Bay. More recently, he has focused on turning bowls, plates, and hollow vessels. Part of the artistry of woodturning is addressing cracks and imperfections in the wood. Drawing on his experience with baseball projects, White sometimes stitched up cracks with wicker or string. Other times, he used materials such as glass to highlight imperfections. White enjoyed sharing his love of woodturning and taught the craft in his basement workshop, alongside fellow Bucks County woodturner Dave Hardy, and in the Fine Woodworking program at Bucks County Community College’s art department. White was drafted into the Army in February 1943. He volunteered for the paratroopers and served in Europe with the elite 82nd Airborne Division, participating in the Normandy landings, the Battle of the Bulge, and the famous standoff with German forces at Nijmegen, Holland. Returning to the U.S., White drove around the country, visiting Oregon, California, and Hollywood, Florida. There, he met Mary Gorman, a teacher from Asheville, North Carolina. Ms. Gorman and Mr. White were married December 27, 1950. Mr. White served as a planner and supervisor for the City of West Rock Hill and was a member of the Sellersville-West Rock Hill Joint Recreation Board for many years. He spent most of his career as a member of the National Union of Carpenters for Orleans Home Builders, a Philadelphia home builder. After their marriage in Asheville, North Carolina, the Whites settled in Pennsylvania and had five children. Mary White preceded Mr. White in death, as did two sons, Norris S. White Jr. and Timothy D. White. Mr. White is survived by his son Donald P. White of West Rock Hill, his daughter Katherine M. McFadden of Doylestown, and his daughter Barbara W. Stack of Pittsburgh. He has six grandchildren: Adam and Benjamin White, Logan and Whitney Stack, George McFadden and Mary Martin. Beloved great-granddaughter Vivian Esme Martin passed away in February 2009. Mr. White is also survived by three of his five sisters, one of whom, Geraldine Culp, resided at the Lutheran Church in Telford where Mr. White has resided since last summer. Mr. White is also survived by sisters Helen Getz of Chestertown, Maryland, and Bertha Groves of New Port Richey, Florida. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, February 18, 2011, at the Bernard-Suess Funeral Home, 606 Arch Street, Perkasie. Family and friends may visit the funeral home from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM on Thursday, or 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM on Friday. Burial will follow in St. Agnes Catholic Cemetery, Sellersville, Pennsylvania. home page

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