Larry Bruce White Jr., may have been best known for his involvement with the Fort Worth Stock Show, but friends and colleagues say that barely scratched the surface of his community service.
Mr. White, 53, a real estate investor, died Thursday in Fort Worth of kidney failure.
He was born Dec. 25, 1960, in Fort Worth and grew up in Aledo, the only son of Larry and Jane White. At Aledo, he played football, ran track and was active in the FFA for Aledo High School.
He attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos before returning to Fort Worth to join his father in his real estate interests.
But the Stock Show was always a huge part of his life.
“He always said if he ever made it big, he was going to give back as much to the kids as possible,” said his friend, Gary Ray, another longtime supporter of the Stock Show and its annual Sale of Champions, which recognizes the best of the youth livestock shows.
In 2010, Mr. White paid $210,000 for War Admiral, which at the time was a record for the most paid for a grand champion steer at the Stock Show. He eventually would become the first person ever to purchaser the top finishers in steer, goat, hog and lamb — making him the lone member of the Grand Slam Club.
“There hadn't been anybody that has done it since,” said Brad Barnes, the Stock Show’s president and general manager. “It was just something he came up with. He was hoping it would catch on and there would be other bidders.”
Mr. White founded two groups that purchased livestock from youth at the Stock Show — the Fort Worth Businessmen and the U Ol’ Goat Committee.
“Anything that combined animals and kids was his passion,” said his personal assistant, Tara Edland. “He just enjoyed helping out.”
That sense of helping went far beyond the Stock Show.
He was involved in the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Bobby Norris Roundup for Autism. His donations helped open the the Autism Treatment Center’s Fort Worth Therapy Clinic.
“He was instrumental in getting the Fort Worth Center open,” Bobby Norris said. “His participation represented a large percentage of the proceeds.”
One of his best friends and business partner, John Boswell, said he has been reminded of Mr. White’s generosity over the last few weeks.
“He loved his friends; obviously, he loved his family,” Boswell said. “He was loyal, maybe even to a fault, and Larry didn’t take being told ‘no’ very well. When he set his mind to do something, he was going to get it done.”
Mr. White was a single father who raised his daughter, Taylor, and son, Tanner. Taylor is a freshman at Concordia College in Austin, and Tanner is a junior at Boyd High School.
Earlier this year, Mr. White purchased the Historic New Isis Theatre, one of the last remaining single-screen movie theaters in Fort Worth.
The original Isis Theater was built in Victorian grandeur on the site in 1913 and opened in 1914. But it burned in 1935 and the art deco-style New Isis replaced it a year later.
Mr. White hoped to restore the Stockyards theater and had purchased parking lots around the theater to address parking issues.
“He wanted to focus the Isis on constantly having charity events that would raise money,” said his uncle, Monk White of Dallas. “He wanted to do something that would get folks from the west side and the Paschal side of town regularly coming to the Stockyards.”
Mr. White was waiting to see what happened with the Stockyards development plans before moving forward with the theater.
“Whether that occurs now, I can't tell you,” Monk White said. “… No matter what happens, it will be integral in the development of the Stockyards.”
His uncle said his nephew’s love for the Old West included an extensive John Wayne collection, and he also loved to dress the part.
“He loved the whole cowboy thing,” Monk White said. “He had a big, black, long coat. He loved that whole persona.”
In addition to his two children, survivors include his mother, Jane White of Fort Worth; and a sister, Kristi Hall of Dallas. He was preceded in death by his father, Larry White Sr.
• A memorial service for Larry White Jr. is 3 p.m. Tuesday at University Christian Church, 2720 University Drive, Fort Worth, following a private family burial in Greenwood Memorial Park.
• A reception following the memorial service will be held at Colonial Country Club.
• Memorials may be made to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.