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Murry Pearce White, 99, member of the Supermarine Spitfire design team during World War II and later president of British Aerospace Inc., in Washington, D.C., died Friday, June 10, 2016, in Williamsburg, following surgery at Sentara Hospital. His son, Stuart P. White of Arnold, Maryland, confirmed his death.
Murry’s career was devoted to aeronautical engineering. He began as an apprentice with Supermarine in Southampton, England, in the early 1930’s. In 1938, he became a design team member of the Supermarine Spitfire, the British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and other allied countries before, during and after the World War II. Built in many variants, using several wing configurations, it was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft.
His design accomplishments were recognized in Spitfire’s Forgotten Designer, the Career of Supermarine’s Joe Smith by Mike Roussel, published in 2013. He rose to the position of technical assistant to the chief designer in 1943, and he was also elected that year as associate fellow to the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAS), a British multidisciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community and elected a fellow of that professional society in 1971. In 1955, he transferred to the Civil Aircraft Division of Vickers-Armstrong. In 1956, he moved to Winnipeg, Canada, as viscount technical representative for Vickers-Armstrong, where he stayed until 1958, when he accepted a similar position with what was then Continental Airlines, in Denver, Colo. In 1959, Murry transferred to Washington, D.C., where he was CEO and director of the U.S. subsidiary Vickers-Armstrong, which became British Aerospace Inc.
Upon retirement in 1980, he remained a company director until 1982. In addition, he served as a private consultant for many years to numerous U.K. aerospace industry companies, primarily for Normalair-Garrrett Ltd., a British manufacturing company, that produced high-altitude life-support equipment for the aerospace industry. His involvement in aviation also saw his appointment as chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation, an international non-profit organization, headquartered in Alexandria. It provides impartial expert safety guidance and resources for the aviation and aerospace industry. Further, in the late 1960’s he served as president of the British-American Chamber of Commerce, New York. Queen Elizabeth II appointed him in 1968 to the distinguished Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his many accomplishments.
In addition to aeronautics, Murry had a lifelong love for the sea and travel. Sailing was his main hobby, which he shared unsparingly with family and friends. Murry was born Nov. 23, 1916, to Harry Pearce White and Mary Louise Perkins in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, on November 23, 1916. His father became the managing director of Camper and Nicholsons, shipbuilders in Southampton. In 1994, he moved to Williamsburg, where he remained an active member of St. Mark’s Anglican Catholic Church.
His wife of 55 years, Rosemary Pamela (Roland Price) White from Southampton, England, died in Virginia in 1999.
He is survived by his two children, Susan Jane Hicks (John) of Canberra, Australia, and Stuart Pearce White (Sondra) of Arnold, Md.; grandchildren, Rebecca, Veronica, Amanda, Alisha, Ryan, Kelsey and Carinne; eight great-grandchildren; and partner, Mary Louise Alley Yeager of Williamsburg.
A memorial Requiem Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 25, at St. Matthew’s Anglican Catholic Church, 215 Main St., Newport News, VA 23601.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to St. Mark’s Anglican Catholic Church, c/o Reverend Daniel Warren, 1512 Steuben Road, Gloucester Point, VA 23061.
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