Robin Leonard Woolford White B.Mus., M.ed. 1938-2012
Robin WHITE was born on 29 May 1938 at 302 Reading Road, Winnersh.
As an only child of Leonard and Edith White, and according to himself, he had a semi-rural upbringing. He attended Woodley Hill Grammar School then went on to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he achieved the Organ Teacher's Licentiateship and Graduateship in 1959 and 1960 respectively.
At this time he won an organ scholarship which enabled him to travel to Saltzburg where he studied the organ as well as the violin and conducting techniques. He resided there for six months during which time he occasionally appeared on Austrian & German television conducting symphony orchestras.
His first teaching post in 1963 was in Berwick-on-Tweed where he was music master at the grammar school. During this time he was also choirmaster and organist at a local church and had a very busy life directing local musical society events and touring the country with several choirs.
In the late 1960s he joined the staff at the Forest School, Wokingham, as Head of Music. This school was originally the Woodley Hill Grammar School but by the time Robin joined the staff it had moved from Woodley to Wokingham and had converted to a Comprehensive.
As well as his many musical talents, both as a pianist and conductor, he enjoyed helping in the construction of stage sets for many of the school productions. He presumably learnt some of these skills from his father who was a carpenter. He took on the responsibilities of Director of Expenses for the school's fundraising events as well as the control of finances when the school was on holiday abroad. He opened a tuck shop at the school and ran it for five years in order to raise money to purchase an organ. This organ has now been donated to a local church. He also built a harpsichord, scrounging bits and pieces of wood from other school departments. However, increasing ill health brought early retirement in 1988 but again he had a busy life with church music and directorships of local choirs as well as being advisor to local music and concert societies.
He sailed a good deal on the Solent and qualified as an International Yacht Master and went on to teach navigation at Bracknell College of Further Education. He much regretted not being able to qualify for National Service and, during the Falkland's War, he volunteered his nautical experience to the Royal Navy but was not pleased when they turned him down.
Robin entered Freemasonry in 1979 when he was raised in the Reading Lodge of Union on 20 February of that year. He became Master in 1986. He was an enthusiastic Freemason becoming somewhat of an authority on the subject through his studies and research. He had an extraordinary ability to recite ritual without any notice when asked to do so. He joined many other Masonic orders including Royal Arch, Royal Mark Mariners, Knights Templar and Royal Order of Scotland. He held office in all these orders and was accorded Provincial Rank in some. He was a Founding Member of Erlegh Royal Arch Chapter and their first Scribe Ezra. He was appointed Provincial Grand Steward in 1990, Provincial Grand Registrar in 1992 and Past Junior Grand Deacon in 2004. He joined St Cecilia Chapter in December 1981 and became MWS in Feb 1993. He received his 30th degree in 1994 and 31st degree in 2005 he was St Cecilia Chapter's Treasurer for 10 years.
For 25 years Robin was Curator and Librarian of Berkshire Province having built both the library and museum at Sindlesham from scratch to its position of being internationally known. Not being satisfied with all this he also found time, with Leslie Harborne, to write a book on the history of Freemasonry in Berkshire & Buckinghamshire which took four years to complete.
Robin was a victim to severe arthritis which developed overnight when he was still relatively young. He underwent several operations to help alleviate his acute pain which he suffered courageously. Latterly his health deteriorated still further into a heart condition, general weakness and reduced mobility. He was found dead at his home in Lenham Close on Thursday 30 August.
Robin had led a most useful, productive life of service. He was a very private person but had an engaging personality. He was intelligent, well read and practical. He did not suffer fools gladly, he was fiercely independent, cantankerous and meticulous to the extreme. Above all he was an extremely likable person with a laconic sense of humour. He had no known living relatives and his entire estate was left to Masonic charity.
Robin, will be greatly mourned by the Masonic Province of Berkshire. He now leaves this place to join the Great Architect. His resting place is in the grave of his mother in St Nicholas' Church burial grounds, Hurst, Berkshire.