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Marguerite B. White
August 30, 1925 ~ September 19, 2023 (age 98) 98 Years Old
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Marguerite was born in Drumheller, Alberta, a coal-mining town along the Red Dear River on August 30, 1925—the first child of Adrian Augustus Fournier and Evdokia Mitova (“Edna”). She died peacefully on September 19, 2023 in Durham NC, where she recently celebrated her 98th birthday.
Marguerite remembered her early years playing on the banks of the Red Dear River with much fondness, despite the hard times her family experienced there. At age 5, she would spend a year near Paris with her mother, father, and younger brother Renaud (“Ron”), living alongside her father’s family of origin; yet her Bulgarian mother was unhappy and they soon returned to Canada. At age 14, now residing in Ontario, she left high school to help care for her youngest brother Paul. At age 17, she was living alone in Toronto working in the Blood Bank Division of the University of Toronto when she met Ann Lyon. Ann began to talk with Marguerite about Jesus. Ann invited her to church where Marguerite accepted Christ as Savior. Soon thereafter, Marguerite traveled to East Providence, Rhode Island to live out her new-found faith at Zion Bible Institute.
After graduating from Zion, Marguerite was invited to stay on by the founder of this faith-based community, Christine Gibson, and serve in many capacities: as a housemother for women students, as a caregiver in the children’s home, and as a teacher. She was a faithful member of the associated church, Zion Gospel Temple, and met and married her husband, William Wattles White, there. William and sister Pearl had been raised in the children’s home after their immigration from Canada and the untimely death of their mother. Marguerite married Bill in 1957 and enjoyed 50 years of marriage before his death in 2008. Marguerite poured herself into her role of mother to her three sons. Living next to the Bible school and church, she also continued to invest herself in the lives of students, faculty, and staff members. She offered a seat in her kitchen, a listening ear, well-known scripture, advice when asked, and always prayer. During those years, she attained a high school equivalent certificate and became a U.S. citizen. She took great pride in her second son David when he graduated from college and decided to attend medical school to become an anesthesiologist, along with his wife Julie. Her oldest son Bill was a faithful housemate and companion in their Rhode Island home until Marguerite was 92. His presence and support to her filled her life with love, purpose, and stability as she aged in her beloved community. She next moved to Durham NC to be with youngest son Len, a neuroscientist at Duke University, and his wife, Heidi, a geriatrician at Duke. She maintained a pattern of weekly phone calls with her brother Paul and his wife Susan, whom she loved dearly. She enjoyed visits with her niece Jami and Jami’s husband Kevin who married in Beavertail State Park, a place Jami came to embrace because of her aunt’s love for Rhode Island’s coastline.
Marguerite cherished each of her grandchildren: Alex White, Hannah Van Vleet (and husband David), and Jonathan White; and Aaron Lobaugh (and wife Amber), whom she loved as dear members of the family. She regularly outplayed friends and family in her favorite word game, Scrabble, despite their best efforts. She valued simplicity, kindness, and good company. So even as technologies like email and cell phones became common, she found little use for them, opting instead for the warmth and spiritual purpose of listening, sharing, and ministering amongst her neighbors, including those she met in her later years at Brookdale Durham. She lived long enough to hold her first great grandchild, Madeleine Van Vleet, and enjoy many Facetime visits filled with smiles and laughter during her final months in hospice care.
The family is grateful to the staff at Brookdale Durham and Parkview Rehabilitation Center for their care and presence in her life. Marguerite is preceded in death by her parents, brother Renaud, husband Bill, and beloved Aaron. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to one’s local faith community, food bank, or mission. Gifts of this kind will honor Marguerite’s generous spirit and her ever-present expression of Christian faith and love.
Family and friends are invited to attend a gathering at noon on September 29, 2023 at J. H. Williams & Co. Funeral Home (210 Taunton Avenue, East Providence RI) followed by burial at Springvale Cemetery next to her beloved husband and very near the graves of longtime friends.