Today we’re remembering and celebrating the life and generosity of Edward “Ned” White. Twenty years ago, Ned’s $1.8 million donation provided an enormous boost to the Aberdeen Health Foundation! His kindness has helped improve quality health care in Pictou County for decades and will continue for many more. As you will see by reading his story, Ned was a unique man and original thinker.
This story was taken from our 1999 newsletter feature on Ned and his remarkable donation.
Ned White was a hard working blue collar man with a keen eye for what was necessary. He never wasted money and managed his life like a Fortune 500 company. He was born on September 20, 1911 in Moncton, New Brunswick. His father was killed in a railway accident when he was a young boy and his mother died shortly after during the great flu epidemic in 1917. Ned was left with no parents at the tender age of six and went to live with his grandparents. During the move he was separated from his sister and brother. Ned managed to keep his family name while his other siblings weren’t so lucky. Ned never forgot those tragic days of his life and often mentioned them in his senior years.
Ned grew-up quickly, becoming an extremely independent young man. He went to work for the Canadian National Railway when he was 16. Eventually he took his apprenticeship at the CNR shop in Moncton as a car man and worked for the CNR for 46 years.
He was taught at an early age that life was hard and didn’t always turn out the way you wanted. During the hard times, Ned knew he had to have savings to fall back on when work was less plentiful, especially during the depression. He recalled having to ask his landlady for credit until he got paid. His room and board of $18.50 a month was high in the 1930’s.
He moved to Pictou County in 1946. He liked this new found area and decided to call it home.
Ned was an avid reader and a strong believer in community libraries. He seldom bought a book, since he thought it was a waste of money. His favourites were business magazines, daily stock quotation, newspapers and business stories. He learned all he could about companies and their management. He bought shares in companies, especially local businesses like The Evening News (The Thompson Group), MT&T, and Nova Scotia Power.
Ned liked Pictou County and its succors, such as Sobeys, Empire, and maritime Steel and the families these companies represent. He would always buy his groceries from Sobeys and talked frequently of solid business people he knew and liked such as Harold and Frank Sobeys and R.B. Cameron of Maritime Steel. Ned bought shares in the local companies, as well, and didn’t panic when the market got a little shaky. ‘You buy good for the long haul and don’t brag about it,’ he would often say.
He was a firm believer in buying Canadian and American goods. Buying from private entrepreneurs was a must and he was against cheap foreign goods coming into Canada, for it put local people out of work, he stated.
Ned never had a drivers licence, because he had no need for a car, until public transit was eliminated from the area. Always thinking ahead, he thought that the disappearance of public transportation in the county would eventually hurt the economy in the long run. He felt business would go where their employees had public transit, like metro Halifax.
He always looked after his health, walking two to four miles a day and exercising at home. He followed the Canadian Food Guide and kept healthy. Being thrifty and independent kept him going well into his senior years. He owned telephone shares, but never owned a telephone. If he needed to make a call he would use a pay phone. Ned owned only a black and white TV until it finally stopped working. He found it easier to watch a colour television after developing a cataract. But his true passion was reading in his spare time.
Ned always marvelled at the medical improvements that took place over his lifetime.
He favoured the Aberdeen Hospital, its staff and the regular care given to him by his family doctor Spencer Barclay and his specialist Dr. R.S. Ram. If he had to wait to see a doctor it never bothered him, since he knew he would be taken care of sooner or later. Ned contributes surviving an aneurysm to the wonderful emergency care he received at the Aberdeen Hospital in the 1970’s. Later in life, he became a regular day surgery patient every six months during the late 1990’s.
He always stayed true to his word that he would quietly manage his finances like a business and when it was time for him to go, he wanted others to see it was managed well on his behalf.
Thank you Ned for making it possible for other to receive top quality care at the Aberdeen Hospital.