City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego’s office has officially proclaimed Feb. 20 as “Mrs. Elizabeth White Day” to recognize the character and contributions of the matriarch who was born 100 years ago on that day.
Family from Arizona, California, and Texas, plus local friends of the centenarian, gathered to celebrate the matriarch on Feb. 18 during a surprise birthday party when the proclamation was presented. A formal gala was held at an elaborately decoratedballroom in the Phoenix Renaissance Hotel.
“My mother is special not only because she is mom, but because of her sacrifices, support, and love for the family. She took a big risk moving us to Arizona. It wasn’t easy. She endured some difficult days taking over [an] unprofitable business and making it profitable and respected 50 years late, said the honorees’ son, Danny L. White, of Phoenix.
Appreciative for out-of-town family who traveled to participate in the event, Danny White said he was thankful and blessed regarding the family’s presence in honor of his mother’s 100th birthday.
Describing qualities of the Texas native mother, including being a no nonsense, God fearing, hardworking, considerate, and inspirational individual, Danny White, and other attendees noted how Mrs. White is a good-natured woman. The restaurateur is not only known for her delectable soul food cuisine and desserts, but her overall spiritual demeanor.
“Mrs. White is an amazing person,” said her cousin, Mike Turner. “She has served the Arizona community and done some amazing things. She hasn’t slowed down.”
“She deserves all the accolades. She has done so much,” said his wife, Cheryl.
The couple added how her faith keeps her going and motivates others including generations of her offspring.
“I look up to her. She’s an amazing woman and I am happy to be here,” said her 11-year-old granddaughter, Ricki Brathwaite, who added perspective when she realized that Mrs. White was once 11 years old too.
Braithwaite’s brothers, Braxton and Xavier pointed out how important Mrs. White has been in all their lives by telling them what they needed to hear.
“You feel a presence all the time you walk into the room and she’s an amazing teacher,” Xavier said.
Braxton Braithwaite noted his astonishment of learning about his grandmother’s history of having served Civil Rights leaders including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in her restaurant, which was a haven for many when Blacks were fighting for their American rights.
Danny White and Larry White Sr., detailed “how the journey that has become Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe” has been a foundation built on faith.
“Everybody knows you can’t be in her presence without talking about church,” Larry White Sr. said.
The honoree was thanked for being a living treasure and leaving a legacy for her family, added Larry White Jr.
“I am overjoyed. Thank everybody for coming,” said Mrs. White, who shared a scripture of encouragement.
Meanwhile, the program consisted of a live jazz band, special recognitions, birthday song serenades, and a list of 100 things loved about Mrs. White, who returned to school to gain computer skills. She completed studies in computer use and management. The youngest girl growing up in her family, with six brothers and five sisters, she has one living sister who is 108 and resides in Temple, Texas.
A divorcee, Mrs. White was married to her husband, Chester A. White Sr, who passed in 2009. A business owner since 1964, she did domestic work in Texas before relocating to Arizona.
“She took over a failing business from her brother Floyd Jimmerson, learned by ‘trial and error’ how to run a business,” Danny White said.
He commended her for even taking computer classes and getting the necessary classes/food handling requirements. RIGHT: Past and present-day pictures of Mrs. Elizabeth White, who owns Golden Rule Café in Eastlake Park community.