The schoolroom at the Beatty Center now memorializes the late educator Dale White. Last week, the Lyon County Historical Society formally dedicated the room as The Dale Ladd White Schoolroom in memory of White who envisioned and curated it.
“When I think of what Dale White meant to the historical society, she was one of the rocks,” said Sally Whittington, society president. “She just took care of business; we literally would not be here in these buildings if it were not for her and her dedication to our history. She was such a blessing to me; when I would get an idea to do something I’d take it to her first. … I would tell her what I thought I should do and ask if she was okay with it? I would take it to a board meeting, and I’d say: ‘I think we need to … .’ And my next sentence was always ‘I’ve already talked to Dale about it.’ … That was it — the board was fine with it.”
Whittington said White kept her out of trouble. “I’m not going to tell you there were not times that I went to talk to her about something and I would tell her what I wanted to do, and she would kind of lean back in her recliner and say: ‘Now Sally.’ I knew that was the end and not to pursue it. She was a wonderful, wonderful friend, and such a blessing to all of us. She was also my Sunday school teacher and I remember her saying: ‘When I die I expect to step right in the arms of Jesus.’ There is no doubt in my mind that is what happened.”
White’s three grandchildren, Josh Barnett, Miranda Barnett Reed, and Ty Rogers were on hand to hear the words of praise Lyon County historians had for their loved one and see the artifacts from Lyon County schools she had collected and displayed.
The Beatty House, named for the late Julian and Georgette Beatty, is the first stop visitors make when they arrive for a tour of Rose Hill — The Lyon County Museum. Rose Hill is the oldest structure in Lyon County.
Historian Carol Fonseca also spoke and talked about White’s influence on her life.
“She used to call me when someone couldn’t work (at the museum) and … when I saw it was Miss Dale, I knew I had to answer,” Fonseca said, noting that White occasionally ask her to give a tour for someone who had cancelled. “I just could not tell her no. She once came by my work and I was pleased to see her. She was carrying a small shoe box and she said: ‘I have a favor to ask of you.’ I said, ‘Okay, what is it?’ The box was full of newspaper obituaries she had clipped and the funeral brochure. White asked Fonseca to organize the clippings and put them in a scrapbook. “I, of course, said yes because you just couldn’t say no to Miss Dale.”
Fonseca also remembered when she was a child her aunt often made pumpkin bread for the family at Christmas time.
“I would leave pumpkin bread and milk for Santa,” she said. “As my aunt got older she quit making it and one year I decided I was going to try to make it. I gave loaves to several people, including Miss Dale. She called me a few days later and asked if I had any extra that she wanted to give a loaf or two as gifts. I didn’t, but I couldn’t say no to Miss Dale, so I baked some fresh loaves and took them to her. I later found out she gave them to her nephew Walter P’Pool. So each year after that I made a few extra loaves as a standing order for Miss Dale.
“One Christmas when I was delivering the loaves, she and I were sitting in her living room talking and she asked me if I liked to read. I honestly admitted that I was not much of a reader. Knowing she had been the school librarian, I knew I had probably just stuck my foot in my mouth. But, we had a good chat and as I was about to leave she told me she had something for me in a gift bag that was lying on the floor. I opened it and sure enough it was a book. It was a Daily Devotional that I treasure to this day, and I read it daily over and over each year and think of her every day when I read the daily devotion.”
After White died, Fonseca went to her estate sale and bought a few items as a remembrance of her.
“I noticed a quilt hanging on the wall that had school related blocks on it and I figured the family was keeping it,” she said, noting she remained curious about the quilt. At that moment, Fonseca, who was a girls basketball coach, was on a bus headed to a school northeast of Eddyville. But her intuition was so strong that she messaged White’s granddaughter, Miranda Reed.
Reed asked Fonseca why she wanted the quilt, and she responded she wanted to display it at Rose Hill to honor White. Reed and White’s other grandchildren decided to have the quilt displayed in the museum but asked Fonseca to pick it up that evening.
“I messaged Sally and asked if she would go get it,” Fonseca said. “She obliged and called me that evening and said she left it at the museum, and I needed to go look at it.”
Fonseca went and examined the quilt, looking carefully at each block. She recognized names on the blocks of some of her former teachers.
“My grandmother was a teacher, and I kept thinking why did Sally insist I see the quilt,” Fonseca said. “Then I saw why — my grandmother, Mildred Gillette Gresham, had sown a block for the quilt. So I felt Miss Dale was already watching over me, and that getting that quilt was meant to be.”