WHO ARE HENRY & RILLA WHITE?
In 1909, Henry White moved to Levy County to be a school teacher in the Levy County school system. Henry was to serve his community for more than 50 years. He was a teacher, school board member and, at the time of his death, superintendent of Levy County school system. Henry was a seasoned administrator who brought a sense of duty to his profession. He believed in standards of performance and provided the leadership that served thousands of graduates from the Levy County school system. From Henry, the Foundation has received a legacy of leadership, service and accountability.
In the same year that Henry moved to Levy County he married Rilla Drummond. They lived on Rilla’s family’s farm near Janney, a small turpentine still town eight miles from Chiefland, Florida. Henry taught in the small one room classic school and farmed. He was elected to the School Board and served until he was elected superintendent of schools and moved to Bronson. The Governor of Florida once asked Henry how he was able to live within his District budget when so many were not successful at this. Henry White’s reply was, “You have to know how to say no!” Henry was a strict disciplinarian who taught children, “If you get into trouble at school, you are in trouble at home.”
Rilla opened a small grocery store on Alternate 27 in Bronson and operated it for many years. This country store was a gathering place for the youth of the community. The country store now houses the corporate offices of the Henry and Rilla White Foundation. Only after Rilla suffered a stroke at the age of 88 did the store close. Until that time, Rilla opened her store every day to her community –
Henry and Rilla raised five children in Levy County. During the time that Rilla operated the store, Bronson was a very small town with most of its citizens merely eking out a subsistence living. For most of the families who traded at Rilla’s grocery store money was scarce. There were many times when families did not have money for food. Rilla White would “write their names in her book” when families needed food. When the end of the month came, families would pay her, or else pay what they could and start all over again. Rilla would bag groceries for someone to carry out of her store not knowing whether or not she would get her money, but always caring enough to take a chance on someone she knew was in trouble. From Rilla, the Foundation has received a legacy of caring, service and compassion.