Dr. Charles Herbert White’s extraordinary life ended peacefully on August 17, 2014, at the age of 109. Born August 16, 1905, in Galesburg, IL, Charlie savored a life full of adventure and caring for others. After his father, a minister, was killed in a freak elevator accident, Charlie was inspired to become a physician after meeting medical missionaries his mother took into their home as boarders to make ends meet. A lifelong Kansas City resident, Charlie graduated from Westport High School, Kansas City Junior College, and then the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1926. While at MU he was a proud member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and later received its Century Award. After MU, Charlie paid his way through Northwestern Medical School by playing saxophone in big bands, journeying throughout the United States and the world.
After working in private practice, on the staff at Kansas City General Hospital, and then serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Force Medical Service during World War II, Charlie became one of the first anesthesiologists in the United States upon receiving Fellowship training at the Mayo Clinic in 1944. He was named one of the American Board of Anesthesia’s first Diplomates. Dr. White co-founded the Kansas City Anesthesia Society and became its President in 1953. He was President of the Missouri State Anesthesia Society, Secretary of the Jackson County Medical Society, President of the Baptist Memorial and St. Joseph hospitals medical staffs, and was named the Physician of the Year by Baptist Medical Center in 1972. Dr. White held staff privileges at Baptist Memorial, St. Luke’s, Children’s Mercy and St. Joseph hospitals. He retired in 1975 from his medical practice.
His beloved wife Madeline Lois White died in 1995. They had five children, 13 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. Daughter Linda Moore (deceased) and her husband Jack of Kansas City gave him three grandchildren: Charles Moore (wife Margo) of Boston, Scott Moore (wife Jana) of Minneapolis, and David Moore of Tucson. Charles and Margo are parents to great-granddaughter Grace; Scott and Jana are parents of great-grandchildren Jack and Maylee. Charlie’s son William Grimshaw and his wife Charlotte, of DeSoto, are parents of two grandchildren: Lois Ann of Olathe, and Lynn Meitz (husband Doug), of St. Louis, whose son Beau is another of Charlie’s great-grandchildren. Charlie’s daughter Julie Neustadt of Sugar Grove, NC, is mother to two of Charlie’s grandchildren: Jason Neustadt (wife Stacey), of Phoenix, and Jill Hyland (husband Doug), of Brunswick, Maine. Jason and Stacy are parents of great-grandchildren Jake and Ryan; Jill and Doug are parents of great-grandchildren Bowman and Finley. Charlie’s daughter Laurie White of Phoenix is the mother of grandchildren Weston (wife Sarah), of San Diego, Mike and Jake. And daughter Madelyn Dalgleish, with Doug, are parents of Charlie’s grandchildren Haley, Logan and Austin, in Kansas City. Charlie also leaves his longtime friend and companion Mary Ann Cooper.
His life was full of adventure. Charlie hitchhiked to California and back as a teenager with childhood friend Edgar Snow, who became the famed journalist of Mao in China. Selected by President Truman’s physician to provide the anesthesia for surgery to be performed on the ailing President of Peru, Charlie returned from the jungle after the successful treatment with a monkey he kept for years.
Charlie was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church which he sometimes attended multiple times per week to, as he said, “cram for the final.” An avid golfer, he was a longtime member of Blue Hills Country Club. He loved playing his saxophone, fishing, attending his investment club Fourth National Associates (for more than 50 years), and being with his children and grandchildren.
Dr. Charles Herbert White first practiced medicine in times where there were no specialists, patients were met and treated in their homes, there were no antibiotics, and sitting and praying with the patient was part of the doctor’s calling. Insurance did not exist, and payment, if there was any, often came in the form of barter or food. To him this was of no consequence; the important things were the care, compassion and expertise he devoted to each and every patient. He lived and worked by the advice his mother gave him: “Just do the right thing.”
As an anesthesiologist Dr. White pioneered treatments which kept patients alive and pain free during procedures which never could have been performed before. Charlie treated more than 40,000 patients and loved his work; he considered it a privilege. As he said “Where but in medicine can you receive the tearful ‘Thank you’ and warm lifetime friendship of people you help. Who else but the doctor is admitted without reserve into the inner sanctums of a human life in distress. The doctor belongs to the most challenging profession in existence today and forevermore because the good physician lives a life that is the expression of productiveness, concern, respect, responsibility and knowledge.” His love of medicine never waned- he attended medical staff meetings well past his hundredth birthday and worked as a medical missionary in Haiti at the age of 92.
Services will be held on Saturday, August 23rd at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th Street, Kansas City, MO at 10:30 AM. Private burial. In lieu of flowers those desiring to honor the memory of this wonderful man may make a contribution in honor of Dr. Charles H. White to the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, c/o University of Missouri Office of Advancement, DC 205, 1 Hospital Drive, Columbia, MO 65212.
His words are perhaps the best: “I’ve seen a lot, and I’ve been through a lot, but whatever happens you have to keep your head up. A positive attitude in life means everything.” Assistance by Funeral Advocates, LLC.

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