John Barkley White, 79, went home to be with the Lord on March 16, 2021, at his residence in Lima, Ohio, from complications of cancer. John was born to the late John C., and Savannah White of Plymouth, IN, on April 1, 1941. He and his beloved wife, Nola M. Bentley, were married on March 16, 1964.
John was born with a big heart and a larger-than-life personality. Enthusiastic for a time about golf, cooking, Bobby Knight and IU basketball, and any activity that involved a friend. In retirement, he focused more on landscaping and movie-watching. Always a connoisseur of film, he would immerse himself in the movie’s stories and would not hesitate to research or even call people associated with the films. So mesmerized by the story of “Rudy,” he looked up Rudy’s phone number and called Rudy’s mother. After an inquisitive conversation, he asked her if she would mind sending him a signed photograph of her son. She agreed. His pursuit of connecting to the people and the stories that moved him was insatiable.
John was best known for his professional accolades, of which there are many. His journey had a bumpy start. His first semester at Indiana University he earned a .8. He promptly decided it best to join the U.S. Army Medical Corps. After being honorably discharged, he graduated magna cum laude with a Masters in Health Administration from Indiana University. Later in his career, he attended Harvard University where he studied Advanced Management Programs.
He spent 30+ years as a hospital CEO. Those years were divided among Hancock Memorial Hospital, Floyd Memorial Hospital, and Lima Memorial Hospital. His accomplishments while CEO are well documented. Among his most significant in Lima were being instrumental in the joint venture between the YMCA and Lima Memorial Hospital, and creating the vision for the Lima Memorial Medical Park. He served on an inexhaustible number of boards and committees, including Allen County Heart Association, Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Ohio Hospital Insurance Co., Bradfield Center, Cerebral Palsy Clinic, Community Urban Redevelopment of Lima and Allen County, LimaLand Business for Progress Committee, Rotary Club, United Way, West Central Ohio Regional Development Board, Red Cross (Greenfield, IN chapter), Heart Association (Indiana Affiliate), Chamber of Commerce for Southern Indiana, Community Savings Bank, Indiana and Ohio Hospital Association, Indiana University Southeast, and Southern Indiana Leadership. We now understand why, upon retirement, he refused to wear anything other than loungewear, much to Nola’s chagrin.
When he was 16, he became an Eagle Scout and received the “My God and Country Religious Award.” His love of Jesus motivated him to participate in various ministries at Christian Missionary Alliance Church and Trinity United Methodist Church with the Emmaus Walk being especially meaningful in his spiritual journey. In Lima, he enjoyed fellowship with the Shawnee Alliance Men’s Group and his involvement with the Lima Prison Ministry.
John was a natural leader and was recognized as such throughout his entire life. From his first opportunity as a “captain of patrol” at Jefferson Elementary School in Plymouth, IN, to his final role as CEO at Lima Memorial. He had the rare gift of knowing when and how to be aggressive and honoring people above himself, and all else. His north star in management was treating others right. In his own words from a 1989 article, “I’ve provided leadership by unleashing the power of people....” As CEO, John was an active and compassionate listener. He met annually with every “associate” (a term he preferred to “employee”) and would routinely put on scrubs and work alongside them. He intently listened to their concerns and used their suggestions to implement change. His associates consistently commented on how friendly and caring he was.
Tender-hearted toward all God’s creatures, great and small, he adored his dogs, Brandie and Cubby; and Emmett, the cat. He is certainly spoiling them rotten.
He is preceded in death by his parents John C. and Savannah White, and his sister Judy White Albert. His animated, lavishly generous, and tender spirit (and his extravagantly delicious cooking) will be deeply missed by his wife, Nola; his sons, John White (Cindy) of Waco, TX, and Steve White (Nicole) of Granville, OH; his sister Beverley Turner of Crawfordsville, IN; his nieces and nephews; and members of the MacArthur and Kurzhal families. He delighted in spoiling and praising his grandchildren Jonathan, Estie, Hannah, Henry, Eliana, and Jia. (They will miss his feasts too.)
Family will receive friends for the visitation on Saturday, April 10 from 9am-10:30am at Shawnee Alliance Church, 4455 Shawnee Rd., Lima, OH, where a celebration of life service will begin at 10:30am. Interment to follow at Woodlawn Cemetery, with military honors. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Allen County Humane Society, Helping Hands Ministry at Shawnee Alliance Church, Cable Road Alliance Church, LMH Foundation, or Lima YMCA.