Leela H. White
June 15, 1944—March 3—2020
Denver Rotary Club 31 Member – 18 years
“Machine Shops—Sales, Marketing”
Compiled by Carolyn Smith and read by Jim Mack, April 15, 2021
Fellow Rotarians and guests, we have lost a loyal member of the Denver Rotary Club. We pause today in memory of our friend and fellow Rotarian, Leela Hohmann White.
Lee died after a fall at home on March 3, 2020 with her devoted family gathered around.
Lee was the youngest of four daughters born to Lee and Irene Hohmann in Denver on June 15,1944. Her father, also Lee, had immigrated from France to become a businessman and restauranteur in Denver.
Lee was a mountain girl. When she was five, her Dad purchased a cabin on 13 acres in the foothills west of Denver. So that Lee could get to school and to see her friends, her parents bought her a horse, Prince. Her parents fostered the independence that characterized her life and created the strong character that we came to know and love.
Lee attended the one room school near her home until Ralston Elementary was completed in 1955. At aged 10, she rode the three miles to the new school. Prince was content during the day in the corral built by the school for the horses of many of the young students. Lee went on to Golden High School and Colorado Women’s College where she studied Business and Business Law.
Lee met Jim White, the man who would become her husband, in the summer of 1959 at a party in the mountains near her home. She was only 14 but, even at that young age, she decided she would be Mrs. Jim White someday. Sure enough, while still college students, they were married five years later on August 31, 1963.
Jim completed his degree as Engineer at Colorado School of Mines and Lee finished her Associate in Arts Degree at CWC while still newlyweds. They moved often those first post college years after Jim joined Shell Oil Company and then served as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers. Their twin sons, Scott and Eric, were born at Fort Belvoir, Virginia in 1966.
The family returned to Denver in 1968. Jim resumed his job with Shell for a couple of years until joining his father in the family businesses: Denver Air Machinery Company and Denver Machine Shop, Inc. Lee was recruited to help run those businesses as Sales and Marketing VP and eventually became Jim’s business partner and the co-owner of Denver Machine Shop. I remember the considerable pride Lee displayed when introducing me to the Shop some years ago. Each of the employees in turn had only praise for her and her importance to the company’s success particularly during the tough times of the 1980s.
Lee kept quiet about the constant severe pain she suffered from scoliosis and the surgeries that were the result. She had 17 vertebrae fused in five separate operations beginning when she was 30 years old. Somehow, she continued the annual family tradition to cut down their Christmas tree. And she loved hiking with friends and family members despite continuous pain. Typically concerned about others with the same condition rather than herself, she started and continued to lead the support group, “People for Scoliosis”.
Lee was a devoted mother and grandmother. Their daughter, Tanya, was born in Denver in 1972 on the birthday of her six-year-old twin brothers. Lee was proud that her three children completed college and were married before she 50 years old. In her later years, she devoted her love and attention to her six grandchildren: JB, Aleece, Heather Lee, Kevin, April and Victoria. They loved her in return. Lee’s happiest moments were when the family was all together.
To say that Lee was a member of Denver Rotary for 18 years is a bit misleading. She was an active Rotary wife for 30 additional years attending District and International Conventions and joining Jim in his many Rotary fund raising and other Club activities. I introduced Lee to become a member of Denver Rotary in her own right in March of 2001. As a member, she continued her mentorship for the High School Scholarship Awards, Denver Kids, and she supported students in Rotary exchange programs. She was a Denver Rotary Club Foundation Fellow and The Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Fellow +1.
We express deepest sympathy to Jim, Eric and Steph, Scott and Laura, Tanya and Eric and JB, Aleece, Heather Lee, Kevin, April and Victoria.
We miss Lee. She brought a special spirit to every greeting. The day was always brighter for each contact with her.
This Resolution was accepted by a standing vote of the members of The Rotary Club of Denver and others at the Warwick Hotel and on Zoom on April 15, 2021.