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Roger Gitlin: In loving memory of Deputy Tim White

SCV Voices

Posted: April 11, 2010 11:15 p.m.
Updated: April 12, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Tim White, you are my hero. I never told you that, but you are my hero. You know, it’s a man thing. I didn’t want you thinking your mother was married to some kind of a nutcase. I was just in awe of you from the time I met you at 15 years of age.

I watched you pitch. You warmed up with your dad, James White. I just marveled at your pitching motion and then saw the results.

You moved that baseball up and down with stunning accuracy. I was just blown away. I saw you break off a rainbow curve that looked like it originated from Sandy Koufax.

And then I told you, Tim, “you’ve got some real talent. You are really good.” (Like you never heard that before.) I thought you could have been a major-leaguer.

When your mom and I married, I wasn’t quite sure how you would receive me so I put up my best behavior. Eventually, I settled into just being myself, and I believed you liked me.

I recall so vividly having some great conversations with you about life, sports and politics — especially politics. As you quickly learned, Tim, my political views were slightly to the right of Genghis Khan, and I was only too happy to share my view of the world with you, and you were such a great listener.

You nodded your approval with a lot of my commentaries in The Signal, and weren’t shy to express your opinions to me when you disagreed. I just loved that about you. I remember remarking to your mom, Angela, “Tim is a great thinker. He is way beyond his young years in reason and maturity. And, Angie, Tim shares my core values.”

Oh, no, no. I had it all wrong. I learned very quickly, it was just the opposite Tim — that I shared your core values.

When you decided to become a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, I was so proud of you. Words fall short here.

I watched you train and survive the vigorous application process, and enter Class 345 at the Sheriff’s Academy. I was just in awe of you. The career you chose was one I would have loved to enter, but as Clint Eastwood once said, “A man needs to know his limitations.” I became a teacher.

As you graduated from the academy in 2005, and ultimately were placed at Pitchess Detention Center, I lived vicariously through you. We spoke almost daily about goings-on at Pitchess and life in general. Your words to me were like food to a starving man. I couldn’t hear enough to fill me.

Likewise, I felt so comfortable telling you of my experiences as a teacher in the juvenile court school at Camp Scudder, working with some pretty tough kids. We shared our common problems and sadly agreed: Pitchess Detention Center would have no shortage of inmates in years to come.

And wow — what a contractor you were. You could build anything. When your mom and I bought our home in the hills of Newhall, there was much to do. And your mom wanted it done yesterday.

I said, “Honey, not to worry, I have it covered.” As soon as she left the room, I picked up my cell and called you. “Tim, I need your help.” Could you meet me over at Home Depot after your shift and my school day ended, and help me pick up supplies I needed for what seemed to be an on going project of renovation?

And your sense of humanity was so great. You just loved to prank me.

On one of our Home Depot trips, I called you from the confines of the store and was looking for you. You answered back, “I’m right in back of you.” I turned around, and you were nowhere to be seen. This cat-and-mouse game went on for several moments, bringing me to the point of frustration and anger. “Tim, I don’t have any time to play these games. I need to get this done, now.” 

And you again responded on the phone. “Turn around, I am at the cash register and I need your charge card.” Everything was ready to go, and I asked, “Do you get some kind of pleasure punking me?” Your one-word answer: “Yup.”

Timothy James White. Deputy White. I miss you and I love you. You are within me forever. You are my hero.

Roger Gitlin is a teacher and founding member of the Santa Clarita Valley Independent Minutemen. He can be reached at His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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