Art Creative 01

Charles J. White

March 13, 1934 ~ January 4, 2022 (age 87)

Obituary Image


Charles J. White passed peacefully surrounded by his loving family overlooking his favorite place in the world, his beautiful backyard. His last day was filled with visits from his loyal deer coming to pay their respects as well as his family sharing heartfelt memories. 

Mr. White, affectionately known as Poppa Charlie by those who loved him most, was the Art teacher at Rock Island High School for 30 years. He changed an unbelievable amount of lives and touched so many hearts during his time at Rocky. His love of teaching was only outweighed by the love he showed his family. Poppa was a role model for many of life's lessons.

For the first 7 years of Poppa's life he was raised at Loud Thunder Park. His family then moved to Rock Island, Illinois. He went to St. Mary's Catholic Grade school. He was part of the first class to spend all 4 years at Alleman High School. After Graduation Poppa attended St. Mary's in Winona Wisconsin. He then went to Drake University in Des Moines. While there he majored in Art and Education. He was then drafted into the Military for two years where he painted murals. Poppa fondly told us the story of skipping parts of basic training because the Generals put his art in high demand. 

After the Military Poppa moved back to Carlisle, Iowa. While there he worked for his parents at their summer resort. There is where he met his "Teeny-bopper." 

He met the love of his life, Evie Rains, while lifeguarding on his parent’s beach on July 4th, 1959. The story goes that Granny and her friends went to the beach for the day. Granny saw Poppa and thought he had great legs. She walked by told him "this popcorn is terrible, it's stale." She sat down with all her friends, he then got down off his life guard stand and introduced himself to Granny's blonde girlfriend. Granny was flirting with Poppa, but he knew she was jailbait. He kept trying to ignore her, but the ever persistent Granny was not to be ignored. She went as far as showing him her driver's license and proving she was 19. He finally asked her out once he knew her age. Years later Granny found out Poppa only got off his life guard stand to talk to the pretty blonde.  

They dated for one year long distance while Poppa was an Art Director for Staymates Publishing in Cedar Rapids. During this time Granny stayed in Des Moines. 

Poppa quit the art director job and moved back to help his parents again on their resort. Granny and Poppa were married July 30th, 1960. The family joke is they met July 4th, got married July 30th and had Chris August 11th. 

Poppa was the dad all fathers should strive to be. Granny and Poppa started their family in Chariton, Iowa when their first born Chris joined them in August of 1961. During that time Poppa began his teaching career.  Their family grew in September 1963 when their only daughter Alicia was born. They lived in Chariton for a total of 4 years. 

Poppa and Granny then moved to Rock Island, Illinois where they truly planted their roots. Their family was completed when their third child Erik was born in 1965. When they moved to Rock Island they bought 1032 which was truly the home all their children and grandchildren were raised in. You can't think of Poppa without thinking of 1032. Poppa was a DIY guy and could fix anything, even if it took a bottle of glue and a roll of tape. Granny and Poppa put everything they had into that beautiful home. When I think about my childhood, almost all my memories are of Poppa and Granny and the time spent there. Which is fitting, since I started staying at that house when I was only 2 weeks old.

Poppa retired after 30 years of Teaching Art at Rock Island High School. He loved Rocky and the great students he had. Even as his students graduated, he would still get frequent visits. I believe this shows how dedicated, loyal, and loving of an educator Poppa truly was. You can't talk about Rocky without Mr. White being brought up in discussion. While at Rocky Poppa started the Bonsai Club. He was so proud of all his students, and appreciated them staying in contact. He truly enjoyed his time at Rocky thanks to the students and the staff.

Within 4 weeks of retirement he became my (Danny's) full-time babysitter. He went from teaching art to high schoolers to changing my diapers. Granny always remarks how amazing it was, because he never changed one of his own children's diapers. Poppa turned out to be the best babysitter anyone could ask for.

I remember riding in his little red truck sitting in the tiny fold out back seat. We were usually going to the hardware store to get supplies for his most recent 1032 project when I would be tired and fall asleep on the way. Poppa, in his infinite wisdom, would just lean his seat back and join in on nap time right there in the hardware store parking lot. 

I would spend more nights with Granny and Poppa than I would at home. I would need to be asked to come home, not the other way around. 

Poppa was blessed with 8 Grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. In chronological order by age Danny Gates, Matthew DeVooght, Charlie Kate White, Whitney White, Jason White, Ryan White, Chase White, and Grace White. His two Great Grandchildren are Parker and Lawson Gates. He was the epitome of a grandpa. He made each and every child feel special and loved. He could see every child's talents and only built those talents up and encouraged us. He treated all of us a little differently, knowing what we each individually needed. Growing up we were surrounded by our cousins spending countless hours playing at 1032. 

Poppa made his yard our own personal play area. He made sure we always had a swing, trees to climb up, a bunny to pet, and fish to watch. I would spend a lot of time digging in the dirt at his bonsai workstation. We spent summers in Poppa's man made waterfall and koi pond. We were allowed to walk on the waterfall as long as we were careful, and we would usually use our butterfly nets to "secretly" catch the goldfish living in the pond. There was a time or two the grandkids would accidently fall into the 3 foot deep fish pond. Summer Nights would be spent playing flashlight tag in the yard, before we all slept on the upstairs screened in porch. Poppa always slept in his bed, while Granny slept outside with us. 

Granny and Poppa were always taking us kids on adventures. From small ones at Black Hawk State Park with our walking sticks, medium sized adventures at Starved Rock staying in a cabin, or the biggest of all adventures was loading Matt, Coco, Whitney, and myself into the van and going to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore. Granny and Poppa absolutely loved taking us kids on that trip. Us kids were sure we spent half our childhoods in the car driving there with Poppa only going 55 mph all the way there. You know you're going slow when the semi's are passing you on the left. Once we made it through the longest drive of our lives we had an amazing time at Wall Drug, The Corn Palace, The Blackhills, and some of us even enjoyed Mt. Rushmore. I was personally a little disappointed in the size, I was sure it was going to be huge. We had a wonderful time on the trails and learned all about jackalopes. It was an amazing trip to look back on and reminisce.

In his free time after retirement Poppa painted his unique shaped canvases. He could complete 2-3 paintings a month. Poppa was a true artist and his paintings show his love of nature, and the female form. His artwork has brought joy to many people of all backgrounds.

The family would like to thank Bodie Amerson for his dedication, kindness and love throughout the many years he has helped our family. We would also like to thank Trinity Hospice for their help during this difficult time.

Services for Charles will be at 1:00 pm Saturday at the Knox Chapel of Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, 2106 7th Avenue, Rock Island. Visitation will be from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm Saturday at the Knox Capel. Memorials may be made in care of the RIFAC Foundation to assist in the purchase of an all handicap playground. To view the full obituary and leave condolences for the family, please visit 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Charles, please visit our floral store.


January 8, 2022

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Knox Chapel of Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory
2106 - 7th Avenue
Rock Island, IL 61201

Memorial Service
January 8, 2022

1:00 PM
Knox Chapel of Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory
2106 - 7th Avenue
Rock Island, IL 61201

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