Cover photo for Melinda White (White)  Itoh's Obituary
1945 Melinda 2023

Melinda White (White) Itoh

June 16, 1945 — June 18, 2023

Melinda White Itoh passed away on Sunday, June 18, 2023. She was born in Albuquerque on Saturday, June 16, 1945 to George W. "Blanco" White and Clotilda B. White née Brown. The youngest of five children, Melinda was preceded by brothers George, John "Kemmer", and Joel White; and by sister Ann Stockdill. Melinda is survived by her husband of 54 years, William; daughter Charlotte Itoh and her husband Jeff Hoehn; granddaughter Miriam Hoehn of Albuquerque; and daughter Caroline Itoh and her partner Matt Peploe who reside in Middleton Stoney, England.
Melinda attended St. Charles Catholic School in Albuquerque and graduated from St. Pius High School in 1963. After a brief stint as a flight attendant for United Airlines based in Chicago, she returned to complete her studies at the University of New Mexico, earning a bachelor's degree in English and Spanish. After her marriage to Will in 1968, the couple moved to San Antonio, Texas, where Will was assigned as a logistics officer at Kelly Air Force Base. Melinda taught English at Brackenridge High School, the first of many teaching roles she fulfilled over many years. Returning to Albuquerque, Melinda taught English at Wilson Middle School. The couple spent a summer at the University of Minnesota where Melinda took courses in Classics, and also spent a year at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, where Will was an assistant professor of History and Melinda took graduate courses in English.
In 1975, shortly after the birth of their first daughter, Charlotte, the couple moved to Washington, D.C. when Will joined the Foreign Service. After a year in Washington, they moved to London, where their second daughter Caroline was born in 1977. In the absence of an Ambassador, they were temporary residents of Winfield House, the ambassador's residence in Regent's Park, and the couple welcomed President Jimmy Carter there as a guest. Melinda was also the guest of a member of the House of Lords for the Queen's opening of Parliament in 1978.
Returning to Washington, Melinda began a series of assignments as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher in Arlington, Virginia, while Will was assigned to various positions in the Department of State. It was during this time when Melinda helped found the Westover book group, creating friendships that were to last a lifetime. Books and literature were a central part of Melinda's life. She read thousands of books over the years and shared her passion for them with others - always ready with a custom recommendation.
In 1986 the family moved to Perth, Western Australia, where Will was assigned as U.S. Consul General for Western Australia. The family all enjoyed living 'down under,' celebrating the US victory in the America's Cup in 1987 and participating in events marking the Australian bicentennial in 1988. While in Australia, Melinda worked as a community relations officer at Murdoch University and was much loved by her colleagues. She also served as a member of the parish council at St. Andrews Church in the Perth suburb of Subiaco.
Returning to Washington in 1990, Melinda resumed her ESL teaching in Arlington. She especially enjoyed creating a community among her students who had recently arrived in the United States and were from many countries and diverse cultures. Loved by her students, she often came home with delicious food or gifts from her students' home countries. In 1993 Will was named the executive secretary of the National Security Council at the White House and for the next two years Melinda witnessed close up a number of important events including the signing of the peace agreement between Israel and the PLO and attending the State Dinner in honor of the Emperor and Empress of Japan.
In 1996 Will and Melinda headed to Bangkok after Will's appointment as US Ambassador to Thailand. They hosted President and Mrs. Clinton in 1996, the first state visit by an American president in 27 years. Always passionate about women's rights, Melinda presided over a forum on women's issues in Thailand which included a presentation by Hillary Clinton. Melinda was recognized for her support for the Thai Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women in a ceremony led by Princess Soamsawali in 1997. In Thailand, Melinda continued her ESL work, teaching English at Chulalongkorn University and at Srinakharinwirot University.
The family returned to the U.S. and in 2003 Will retired from the State Department. The couple took full advantage of the time to travel including trips to the American West. In 2010 Melinda was able to fulfill the dream of returning to live in her home state of New Mexico, with Will. New Mexico was by then the residence of choice of Charlotte, Jeff and Miriam. Melinda especially loved the landscape of New Mexico, and always appreciated the "big skies" and the light shows of sunset on the Sandia mountains.
Melinda will be remembered by many for her sharp intelligence, wry humor, talent for languages and her astonishing vocabulary. She will also be remembered for her love of family and her unconditional support for her husband and daughters. She took great pride in their professional accomplishments and was always the first to offer comfort and support as they faced challenges in work and in life. Melinda will be much missed by those who knew her.

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