Neil White (2010 Seminary)
Neil Edward White, Dip C.S., MDiv, MA.
May 23, 1952 - d. November 5, 2013....
On Tuesday November 5th, we suddenly and unexpectedly lost a most treasured member of our family.
Husband; Father; Brother; Friend; Neil was, to all who knew him the most vivacious example of a human. His Joie de Vivre was infectious and endearing, if not from time to time overwhelming and inexhaustible. A twin - he was one of a kind. A man of faith and integrity - he was without equal. A blessing - he was one in a million.
Above all, he loved. He taught us what it means to love and be loved.
Born in Vancouver in the spring of 1952, Neil became a transplanted son of Alberta when his father, Clifford took a job in the city of Calgary. After graduating in 1970, Neil obtained a Diploma of Land Resources Technology from Olds College with hopes of being the first part of a new wave of pioneers who cherished the land and harvested from good earth. The original hipster if you will.
Finding a community of like-minded individuals introduced him to soon-to-be school teacher Barbara (nee Palm) of Rimbey, to whom he was married in ’75 and with whom purchased land on Range Road 32 East of Winfield, Alberta in 1977. Raising sheep, chickens, goats, children and other assorted domestic animals, it was on this land that Neil realized his dreams of farming and land stewardship and became as much a rural fixture as any West of the 5th. He subsidized farming by working various jobs including the grain elevator in Breton, the One World Institute in Camerose until, in ’85 felt a strong call to enter full time pastoral ministry and obtained his Diploma of Christian Studies from Regent College in Vancouver and subsequently served as the Pastor of Battle Lake Community Baptist Church from 1987-98.
Being a British Columbia boy at heart and never having lost his affinity for the vistas of the Rocky Mountains, Neil was always an avid back country hiker. Cold winter evenings would find him hidden away in his study, pouring over a topographical maps of the some obscure portion of the David Thompson Country or difficult-to-traverse trail in one of the national parks and pining for the hiking season to commence. This affection was taken to new heights, however when, to mark the completion of his Master of Divinity studies he visited the L’brie Switzerland in the spring of 1999. It was after seeing the picturesque chalets nestled high in mountainous territory, he was inspired to build, from lumber harvested from their own quarter section, Hidden Springs Guest House and Retreat on the farm in Winfield as a means by which to transport some of that Swiss magic to central Alberta, if not, in part to transport a part of Neil back to those Swiss Alps. That the “chalet” has since served as a place for times of respite and reunion for many guests since it opened in 2004 is a testimony to the genuine heart of hospitality and simplicity of Neil and Barbara and their farm.
‘“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28’ reads the banner on the website for Hidden Springs. And indeed, as so many over the years can attest, these words hold significant meaning in the environment that Neil has created.
Truly a bearer of burdens, Neil was not content to slow down in the twilight of his working years; his second Masters degree was in Counseling and he spearheaded the opening of Burden Bearers’ Counselling office in Drayton Valley in 2008. Until the very moment of his passing, he continued to find ways to make the world a better, brighter place for those in need.
Neil has now found rest after a rich and full life lived in service of God and his fellow man.
Predeceased by his father Clifford Hubert (2010), His mother Francis Laing (nee Smith) (2006), and sister Lynn Turnbull (2010). Neil is survived by wife Barbara Jean (nee Palm), brothers Brian (Maureen) of Calgary and Ross (Jeanie) of Victoria, sons Skylar and Jordan, daughters Ailen and Kelsey, daughters-in-law Karen and Caitlin, grandchildren Theo, Zaeli, Kaiah, Thomas, and Keenan, nephews, nieces and extended family and close friends, all of whom are better for having been able to know him and continue to be his living legacy.