Raymond Peter White was born in 1932 in Verdun, Quebec to his parents Howard and Ellen, the third of seven children, including Howard, Jim, Shirley, John, Ken and Audrey.
Throughout his life he regaled family and friends with vivid accounts of his childhood in Montreal: growing up on Mullen St., the Royals, Expos, and the Canadiens.
At the age of 15, he was a cub reporter for the Montreal Star and attended the court case and trial of the infamous Albert Guay. He would be delighted for you to look it up.
At 17, he was given the opportunity to pursue a career as a journalist in Toronto. Considered too young by his parents to leave home, Ray committed a rare act of rebellion and at 18, joined the Royal Canadian Navy at the time of the war effort in Korea.
Sailing on various vessels, including HMCS La Hulloise and HMCS Cap de la Madeleine, Ray was a Cold War listener picking up USSR radio communications between bases, submarines, ships and aircraft.
He was posted across Canada and in the North, including Churchill, Frobisher, Aklavik, Coverdale, Inuvik, Gloucester, Alert, Ladner and Masset; and an additional posting in England as part of a military exchange.
After 22 years of service, he concluded his Armed Forces career at the rank of Chief Petty Officer, 2nd Class.
Ray then joined the Department of External Affairs as a communicator, serving at our Canadian embassies in Brussels, Guatemala, Dublin, and Paris. He also undertook temporary assignments in Latin America, the Middle East, and a stint at the United Nations in New York.
After retiring in 1995, Ray volunteered his time as a researcher at the Canadian War Museum. Were you to visit him there, you would find him in his element, deep amongst the shelves of maps and documents, immersed in the military archives.
As for family, the characteristic sparkle in his blue eyes was surely the result of meeting the young and beautiful Corinne Leger of Moncton. On August 29th, 1959 they were married, and for 62 years they weathered the ups and downs of base life and international postings, raising three children, and welcoming four grandchildren.
Ray was proud ‘Papa’ to Carla (Nick) who inherited his sharp mind and his love of words and books; Tom (Lynne) who inherited his passion for photography, fishing, and impressive memory; and Paul (Leanne) (deceased April 26, 2021) who inherited his incisiveness, his love of music, and his gift of the gab.
He was tickled pink to also be called Papa by his grandchildren Paloma, Eryn, Evan, and Lia relishing every one of their talents and accomplishments.
Throughout his life, Ray was an avid and voracious reader earning him his reputation as a walking encyclopaedia and making him a challenging, if not frustrating, opponent in Scrabble. It was very rare to find him far away from a New York Times newspaper (the crossword done in pen), a book, or his shortwave radio. His propensity for words, a keen memory, and attention to detail served him well as an oft time scribe and amateur historian, whether contributing to Canadian navy history forums and publications or an occasional, erudite letter to the editor. Undoubtedly, Ray would have loved the opportunity to edit this tribute.
Fondly missed by his extended family and many nieces and nephews, Ray is affectionately remembered for his quick wit, splendid gift of repartee, and ability to intelligently converse on current events and innumerable topics. As they noted, while he did not have the opportunity to attend university, ‘mon oncle Ray’ did indeed graduate with many doctorates from the university of life.
To all who knew him in his personal and professional life Raymond Peter White will be remembered as the consummate gentleman with his natty bowtie, a Mont Blanc pen in his breast pocket, and his trusted Omega on his wrist.
Despite the effects of vascular dementia in his later years, he remained the natural, true communicator he always was and continued to astound family with his knowledge, memory of facts and events, courteousness, good humour and, of course, his notorious puns, good or bad, depending on your point of view.
Most importantly, he was a man who was deeply loved and respected by those closest to him. Though modest when receiving expressions of affection, he would often say, “I love you...those aren’t just words.” To that we can only say, “Back at you Papa.”
Due to Covid, the family will hold a private celebration of Ray’s life, but would be grateful for any shared memories and anecdotes about Ray.
The Dementia Society
1742-1750 Russell Road, Ottawa ON K1Z 5Z6