Alex White, North Sea community icon, dies at 98

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Alex G. White, a longtime caddy master at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club who was also known for the events he organized for local youth, died on January 21, four days before his 99th birthday, at his Trout Lane home in North Sea, with his wife and son at his side.

“We were hoping to make 100, but he didn’t quite make it,” his wife, Grace, said this week. “Everyone thought that Alex was just going to go on forever.”

Mr. White was born in Water Mill, to Alexander and Patricia White, on January 25, 1910.

As a boy, he became a caddy at Shinnecock Hills.

“I don’t quite remember how long he was there,” Ms. White said. “It seemed like forever. I received a letter the other day from a woman who said three generations of her family knew him at the club.”

Even after he retired, Mr. White continued to work at the golf club, in season, one day a week until he was 86 years old, Ms. White said.

Though his profession was in golf, “what Alex really loved was skating,” Ms. White said. He was an amateur speed skater. In fact, Ms. White said her husband of 61 years had her skating very soon after they were first introduced by mutual friends.

“He raced when he was younger and he wanted to share the joy of it with everyone else, I think, more than anything,” she said. He skated late into life, even taking home many medals from the Senior Olympics in Lake Placid, Ms. White noted.

Ms. White said her late husband was devoted to all of his family members. “And they all had to skate,” she added with a laugh. “I used to joke that you couldn’t be in the family if you didn’t skate.”

Mr. White sponsored ice-skating races at local ponds around Southampton as well as other competitions for local children.

“He had kite-flying, he had tennis, he had golf, he had road races,” Ms. White recalled. And no one ever asked him to do any of it, she added. She said he just wished someone had done it for him when he was a boy.

“When there was ice, my phone rang continuously,” Ms. White said. Local children would call to borrow skates or ask if the ice on the local ponds was thick enough to skate on, she said. Parents insisted their children had her husband’s OK before stepping on the ice.

Since the golf club closed each November, he had the time to host the winter events, and even more time after he retired, Ms. White said.

He was also a charter member and chaplain of the North Sea Lions Club, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in November.

“It was wonderful when he got into the Lions,” Ms. White said. “He could branch out into all these other sports.”

The Lions sponsored a community room at the Southampton Town Recreation Center, the base of Southampton Youth Services, in his name in 2003 as a means of honoring his dedication and service.

A 1994 editorial in The Press recognized Mr. White’s good deeds and summed up his contributions: “He’s the kind of homegrown hero who reminds us all what simple goodness and decency are. May he stay forever young.”

Ms. White said she had the full text of the editorial read at her husband’s funeral. “I thought it sort of captured who he was.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. White is survived by a daughter, Diane, and her husband, Ted Orosz, of Valley Stream; a son, Alexander R. White of Southampton; a granddaughter, Brooke Orosz, and her husband, Leon Moy, of Flushing; a grandson, Jeremy Orosz of Minneapolis; and a sister, Virginia Depp of Huntington.

The family received friends on Friday, January 23, at the Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton. The Reverend Jeff Madley conducted a funeral mass the following day at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church in Southampton followed by interment at Sacred Hearts Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to a charity of one’s choice would be appreciated by the family.

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