Suzanne White Wilson still holds onto a piece of advice her father gave her when she was 13 years old.
Wilson was devastated after failing a tryout to be a cheerleader at Eastwood Middle School. Seeing Wilson crying, Roy White hugged his daughter and told her something that would prove to be instrumental in her life.
"I remember him holding me and saying 'You have to find what you love and give it your all,' " Wilson said. "From there, I found my own path."
For Wilson, White's words were reflective of the kind of life he lived as a doctor, nearly 40 years of it spent in Tuscaloosa. White died Monday at the age of 89.
Born in Birmingham, White graduated from the University of Alabama with a pre-med degree and later graduated from medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After a few years serving in the Navy and a residency at the Oschner Clinic in New Orleans, White came to Tuscaloosa in 1960 to start practice in pediatrics, one of only a few in the area who were certified in the field at the time.
In 1971, White moved to the emergency room at DCH Regional Medical Center during the time the hospital established 24-hour coverage in the unit. White started FamCare in 1987, where he worked as a general practitioner before retiring in 1999.
Jerri Lynn Carlisle was an early patient of White's, who says she would likely not have lived if it were not for him. A week after she was born, Carlisle was diagnosed with ABO incompatibility, a complication from birth that causes jaundice in babies. Carlisle said that at the time, not many doctors knew how to treat the condition, but White suggested that she receive a blood transfusion, which she and her parents credit for saving her life.
"He was one of those doctors who cared about his babies as a pediatrician," said Carlisle, who later became a nurse. "He was known for loving his babies and taking care of his babies."
Although she never worked alongside White, Carlisle said she has always admired what she has heard about his career.
"He cared about his patients and I think that showed," she said.
Jayne White, Roy White's wife of more than 30 years, said that his passions were varied, from Crimson Tide football to the Chicago Cubs, but that he always put people above himself. She said that many times, White would help patients and their families who were too poor for adequate medical coverage and that he developed long-lasting relationships with many of the people he treated over the years.
"He was the most giving person with love and understanding," she said. "He just knew how to touch your heart."
Wilson said that in retirement, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren played a big role in his life.
"With our family alone, he had a full-time medical practice," Wilson said, laughing.
Jayne White said Roy White also had a passion for storytelling, often writing his own poetry and telling stories to anyone who would listen. After retirement, he fulfilled a lifelong goal to become a minister and would spend many hours writing sermons and even delivering them in his own hospice room.
"He could preach the most beautiful sermons all day long and I would type them up for him," she said.
Wilson said her father's passion for helping people showed in the many people she would meet who were treated by him at one point during the lives. Many of those people came to visit White shortly before he died.
"My heart wells up and overjoyed that he touched so many people," she said.
Visitation will be Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel Funeral Home. White's funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at St. Francis of Assisi University Parrish
In lieu of flowers, White's family requests that donations be made to Hospice of West Alabama or any charity of choice.