James White in his signature white hat

Former District 10 arts and culture commissioner James White died Monday at age 64. He is survived by his wife, Fran, his daughter, Sarah, and Sarah’s husband, Ryan. His daughter, Zoe, died in 2020. He leaves behind a big extended family and a host of admirers in Lake Highlands.

Some political opponents, after the ballots have been counted and the yard signs have been recycled, spend years denigrating their former rivals and criticizing their efforts to improve the neighborhood. James White did the opposite. After he ran for city council in 2015 and lost to Adam McGough, he doubled his volunteer efforts in the community, pairing with McGough on numerous projects. He served on McGough’s Collective Impact committee, showing up at quarterly meetings to brainstorm creative solutions with other neighborhood movers-and-shakers.

“The 2015 campaign for council was a tough time for a lot of reasons,” remembers McGough, “but James White turned out to be a highlight. As an opponent, James was strong, passionate and direct. As an ally, James was an up-stander, he was principled, but most of all, James White was a loving friend.”

“Over the years, I have stood next to James, and he has stood next to me on many occasions. We were different in so many ways but so similar in what matters most. James loved his family and friends. He loved Lake Highlands and the city of Dallas. He always showed up and put his whole heart into what he was doing. My life is better because of James White. Our community is stronger because of James White.”

“We often talk about being #ALLinD10 and our calling to #LoveYourNeighbor,” adds McGough, referring to the social media hashtags ever-present during his more than 6 years on the council. “James exemplified these mantras and so much more.”

“James was a friend, an advocate and someone who I had come to know and adore,” says former District 10 planning commissioner Christie Myers. “At the end of every year, we wanted to honor the ‘unsung’ heroes, and James was always one of those. Many don’t know it, but he was the one responsible for the large Christmas bulb (in the Lake Highlands Town Center holiday display) this last year. In short, his friendship will be greatly missed. The man had such a soft heart and, while often quiet, wanted to learn your story and offer to help however he could.”

“James and I had a lot of conversations over the years about Lake Highlands,” recalls Kathy Stewart, former director of the LH Public Improvement District, “from whether to create a North Lake Highlands PID to improving LBJ East to art and culture in D10. Many times, I would hear these words, ‘Kathy, I disagree. I see it differently.’ James had the gift of respectfully disagreeing with someone in such a way that it didn’t shut down the conversation or the friendship. And in today’s world – that is a beautiful gift.”

In 2019, White received the Blake Anderson Public Service Award. He was a charter member of the Richardson/RISD NAACP and a leader in the Texas Democratic Party. A Celebration of Life is being planned, with the date and location still to be determined.