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Everyone is a Friend of Lee White

Author: David Davolt
Published on: April 1, 2021

His favorite expression of faith in God is through music

Boise Bible College and the Drain Church of Christ, in Drain, Oregon, have had a strong relationship since the College’s earliest years. The church has sent many students, perhaps more combined than any other church. We have had numerous Drain church leaders serve on the college board of directors. And graduates have served as preachers and ministers. Many students were influenced and encouraged to attend Boise Bible through the ministry of Ray and Roberta Heaton. They served the church as youth sponsors for decades and encouraged students to seek out Bible colleges, especially Boise Bible College.

In 1954 a Minnesota Bible College graduate, Delbert A. White, became the minister at Drain Church of Christ. He and his wife Ruby raised their son and daughter in Drain during his 38 years of ministry. Another Minnesota Bible College graduate had come to Boise Bible College in 1950, Kenneth Beckman. Delbert and Kenny became good friends. Kenny spent many weeks in the Drain area, speaking at camps, leading revivals, and sometimes fishing on one of the rivers or lakes. Delbert spoke on campus many times.

Delbert and Ruby’s son, Delbert LeRoy White (they called him Lee), knew from an early age that following his father’s steps into ministry would be a good choice. Lee watched his Dad live out what he preached from the pulpit. He wasn’t nor did his Dad pretend to be perfect, but he was a man of integrity and stood on his word. Lee recalls a time in grade school when the band teacher at school required everyone to attend a Wednesday night concert. His Dad told him they were committed to attending the meetings at church that included a youth program, and Lee would have to miss the concert. Lee had been told he would receive an “F” if he didn’t attend but lived with his Dad’s decision. Though Lee never knew how it was resolved with his teacher, he respected his Dad for his stand, and somehow his grade was not affected.

When it came time for Lee to decide on a college to attend, he really was not interested in leaving home. He might have been reluctant to leave because of a young lady in town two years younger than him, or perhaps he just was comfortable at home. The friendship of Kenny Beckman, Bob Ballard, and others helped make Boise the college most like home. It was an easy choice. Lee set out for his freshman year at BBC in the fall of 1970. His first year, he lived in the old dorms on Irene Street. Lee remembers enjoying the teaching of Mr. Beckman and Mr. Ballard. Both men made the class more than just a lecture. They shared personal stories of encouragement. He recalls few preachers who could use a Bible story combined with personal experiences to convict listeners to “repent and be saved” better than Kenny Beckman did!

In his second year, he was moved to the “Monastery” with a group of male students. It was a house across from the church building where classes were held, and they were “trusted” with no “adult” oversight in the house. He lived with Dan Raynor (BA’74), Dave Humphreys (BA’74), Steve Moore (BA’75), Harold Gott (AS’96), Dale Peery (BA’73), and his roommate, Joe Toedtemeier (Bible Certificate ’96). Dorm life introduced Lee to Creedence Clearwater music…among other things. He has fond memories of going out late at night (perhaps even after curfew) to buy soda at an all-night store, and someone would always yell out, “Quarts for everyone!” All in all, living with this peculiar bunch of guys proved to be a good experience for Lee.

He connected well with John Boberg (BA’73) and Chuck Sackett (BA’72), and both of them preached revival services for him later in life. Doug (BS’06) and Carol Reed have been life-long friends. He sang with music groups while attending school. As freshmen, Lee, David Humphreys, and Paul Reyman formed the Sojourners and traveled representing BBC. Joan Ballard helped train them, and she would travel with them and play the piano. Chuck Sackett went out with them occasionally to preach. Lee was and is today an accomplished piano player, and singing is a favorite way to share his faith.

The summer of 1972 changed much of Lee’s life – he returned to Drain to marry his sweetheart, Kathie Hedrick. On Friday, she walked across the stage for her high school diploma, and the next day she walked down the aisle to become Mrs. White. They returned together to Boise, and both took classes. They were asked to help Steve and Beth Moore with the youth at Meridian Church of Christ and found they enjoyed it much. One day Mr. Beckman asked for volunteers to take communion to an older couple, and the Whites agreed to go. Lee remembers mostly that the lady had cooked a pie and shared it with them. This was a good start to a lifetime of one-on-one ministry to people of all ages who God brought into their lives. Lee graduated with a BA in 1974.

The summer he graduated, they moved to Sutherlin, Oregon, to work with Richard Carter (BA’56), who had announced they were preparing to go to Rhodesia. Lee would preach Sunday nights so the Carters could visit other churches to raise support. Lee worked during the week in a machine shop and did some concrete work to support his wife. In December of 1975, Yoncalla Church of Christ needed a piano player, and the next thing Lee knew, he was not just playing the piano; he was also their preacher. He preached there until 1978. The experience of being a preacher in a small town proved to be more than he could handle, and he resigned.

They moved to Pablo, Montana, and worked in a grocery store for a couple of years as Lee regrouped. They moved back “home” to Drain, and Lee began working for “Kwikees” a manufacturing company in Drain. He worked there for 26 years before the company was bought out and moved to Indiana. He then worked in the Drain Grocery until retiring four years ago. Through the last four decades, Lee has been the designated “pastor” for the people he worked with, performing weddings and funerals and providing a friend to listen to issues.

Lee and Kathie will be married 49 years in June 2021. They have four daughters scattered from British Columbia to Santa Barbara, California. They have 14 grandchildren aged from 25 years old to five years old and two great-grandchildren, three years old and 9 months. They have had two grandkids attend Boise Bible College in the past, and two more are current students.

Lee is an excellent example of a Boise Bible College graduate who has lived a life of ministry whether he served in vocational ministry or worked a secular job. His Dad influenced him to live a life of integrity. The knowledge gained and experiences he had at BBC laid the groundwork for his lifetime. Professors and peers have been his friends and encouragers. He has served humbly as a leader and now as an elder at the Drain Church of Christ for over four decades. Lee preaches occasionally when asked, plays the piano in worship services, and works regularly helping out at Grove Camp, where their youngest daughter is married to the camp manager. Lee is an amazing piano player and has recorded two CDs with worship songs. He values the schooling received at BBC. The community he enjoyed at BBC encouraged him to love others, and to this day, young or old, everyone is a friend to Lee.