Obituary: Arthur White was outdoors adventurer, conservation leader

04/24/2013 12:00 AM

04/24/2013 7:56 AM

Arthur F. White, a low-key financial planner who celebrated the outdoors as an adventurer and leader in Sacramento conservation groups, died April 12 of heart failure, friends said. He was 86.

Mr. White was a world traveler who climbed mountains, backpacked in wilderness and rafted river rapids for many years. After scaling Mount Whitney and Mount Shasta in California, he reached the top of 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at age 61.

A fitness buff who worked out regularly at Rio del Oro Racquet Club, he went hiking on a lark with a full backpack and covered 21 miles in eight hours on the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada. He floated on whitewater rivers in Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Utah.

"One time we had just come through a stretch of rapids on the Salmon River in Idaho, and he noticed a spider on the edge of the raft," friend Kent Farnsworth said. "He made us cross the river to the shore so he could set the spider down on the shore and save it."

Mr. White's love of nature and wildlife inspired his efforts to protect the environment, especially the American River Parkway. He belonged to Save the American River Association and was a board member of the American River Natural History Association and Sacramento Open Space Conservancy. He served many years on the Sacramento County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Born Dec. 8, 1926, in Calistoga, Mr. White was an all-conference center at Santa Rosa Junior College who went on to play football and graduate from Stanford University. He served in the Army as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.

He spent many years as a financial planner and lived in the Sierra Oaks neighborhood. He was married for 60 years to his high school sweetheart, the former Verna "Nicki" Nicchia, who survives him. They had no children.

Mr. White was a private man, friends said. Although friendly and engaging with people, he rarely spoke about himself and "always preferred asking about you," Farnsworth said.

"He was helpful with neighbors and always working in his garden, waving hello as you drove by," neighbor Muriel Johnson said. "He really just loved to be outdoors."

A visitation is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at W.F. Gormley & Sons, 2015 Capitol Ave., Sacramento.

Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.

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