Obituary: Clara White

January 23, 2019

 

Clara (Bacon) White was born in Rockwood, TN, on July 20, 1913. She was the fifth of six daughters born to Gray Haggard Bacon and Catherine (nee Burns). Her father was employed as a railroad agent for the Southern Railway in Rockwood, and her mother had a full-time job of rearing six girls. Like most households in town, they did not have electric power until the 1920s. Rockwood is a town in east TN that had a population of about 5,000 in the early 20th century and is about the same size today.

As remote as Rockwood was in those days, it was not spared the ravages of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. Everyone in the Bacon household was stricken with the flu except for Clara. At five years of age, Clara knew how to boil an egg. She made regular rounds to visit the family members in their sick beds to deliver water and hard-boiled eggs.

Clara's mother encouraged all of her daughters to leave Rockwood and look for a better life elsewhere. Five of the six did. Lela moved to Murfreesboro, TN; Vea moved to AZ; and the rest, Zella, Beth, and Clara, came to the Washington, DC; area to look for a livelihood in the 1930s. Clara took a job with Agnew Coal Company when she first came to the DC area.

Clara met her future husband, Ira White, at "Young Peoples" church group at Hyattsville Methodist Church, Hyattsville, MD. They were engaged to be married for seven years until they were actually married on September 8, 1945. (World War II happened to occur during their 7 year engagement.) Their marriage lasted 69 years until the death of Ira in 2015. Clara is survived by two sons, Geoffrey and Laird; a granddaughter, Cecilia; and several nieces and nephews.

Clara worked for the Department of State from 1941 until 1953. She processed applications for passports, both military and civilian. She resigned to take time to rear a family, but returned to federal service with the Public Health Service in 1967 in Rockville, MD. In 1984 she retired, only because there was a mandatory retirement age of 70 at that time. After retirement, she volunteered for several years at Leyland Memorial Hospital in the gift shop.

Clara had many interests. The annual family vacation was usually a one- or two-week road trip to places in New England or eastern Canada. She also visited her sister in AZ a few times. For several years she bowled on duckpin leagues. She had always been adept at sewing and made clothing from patterns. After retirement, she avidly pursued needlepoint. Finding pictures of her is hard because she was always the one behind the camera. She put together many scrapbooks and photo albums documenting her life and those close to her.

Her memorial service was held at St. John’s Episcopal Church Beltsville, MD, on Saturday, January 12, 2019, at 11 a.m. with the Reverend Joseph Constant officiating. Arrangements by Borgwardt Funeral Home, www.borgwardtfuneralhome.com.

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