Written by Mai Truong
“Life revolves around the table at the White house.” A dinner table is an important place in a home. Both in history and in literature, sharing a meal with others is symbolic. It means more than simply eating, but rather, denotes a sense of meaningful connection.
Around a dinner table, families can spend time with one another, laughing together and talking about each day. New relationships can be forged as well, as a group of people sits together, conversing while rejoicing in one of life’s greatest pleasures. Michele White was well aware of the power of a good meal. She spent years extending a hand of hospitality to countless people and forging strong bonds with others that lasted through the years.
Michele was born and raised in Nice, France in the company of her two grandmothers. They adored Michele and raised her for most of her childhood, making sure that she had every need and many wants met. Their maternal and loving influence instilled a caring nature in Michele, inspiring her to study nursing and to become a generous, welcoming person.
One year, there was an American Navy ship touring the Mediterranean that made a stop in southern France. Many young ones attended a USO dance, including Michele. It was there that she met Ed White. They thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company, but afterward, Ed had to continue on with his ship. Regardless, he had made an impression on Michele and she was determined to not let this special person go. She decided to visit an uncle that she had in Long Island, New York and find Ed. The rest is history. They later married, having a civil ceremony in Iowa, where Ed was born, and a reception in Nice.
After getting married, Michele and Ed moved to Virginia, where he was stationed. They started their family together, having two children before returning to Europe. They spent a few years as a family living in Italy and Spain before finally settling in San Diego, California. During the early years of their marriage, Michele was such an inexperienced chef that Ed would joke that she’d even burn water. Gradually, she developed a knack for cooking and proved to be an incredible chef.
Throughout Ed’s military career, he and Michele would entertain others in their home regularly. Their dining table sat dignitaries from the Embassy, military officers of all ranks from the United States, Italy and France, and countless others. Ed served in Japan, Vietnam and other countries and Michele would faithfully visit him wherever he was stationed. Ed often attributed his success in the military to his beautiful wife’s kindness and hospitality.
When Ed retired from his military career as a commander in the Navy, he and Michele were able to spend more time together and with their children. They were seasoned travelers and enjoyed taking long trips and cruises. They were able to make stops on one trip in Egypt, Cape Town, Turkey and Petra. Another vacation took them to the Baltics, Germany, Russia, Denmark and France. One memorable getaway to Alaska included both of their children with their respective spouses.
Back at home, Michele always made sure to keep busy. She was an avid Bridge player and would even compete all over California. In fact, Michele was such a good player that she became a bridge Life Master. She also kept up to date with politics and would go back to France to cast her vote. She decided to become an American citizen in 1994 with the sole intent of swaying the vote in the presidential election.
Michele’s lively, vivacious personality made a strong impact in the lives of those she loved. It is truly because of her that life revolves around the table at the White house.
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