Kevin White has been caring for little ones long before he even thought about becoming a dad. When he was young, White’s mom was a pre-school teacher and owned her own early childhood education and daycare center.
“I grew up working with my mom. I admired everything about her,” he said. “Kids have always been a part of my life.”
That experience prepared him for fathering four of his own children as well as welcoming half a dozen foster children into his home over the years.
“You have to be flexible at a moment’s notice. I believe in enjoying the time together and being supportive and patient,” White said.
He was in his sophomore year of college when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. White returned home to Vancouver, Washington and ran the preschool while his mom underwent treatment. After she passed away, he continued to manage the daycare center until selling it.
White and his future wife Rochelle met through what they jokingly call “an arranged marriage.” His dad, who worked at Safeway, thought his co-worker’s daughter would be a perfect match for his son. Rochelle’s mom — who had created cakes for the White family pre-school for decades — agreed.
“Our first date lasted 12 hours,” Kevin said. “We were engaged six months later. Our parents are still really proud of the match-making.”
The Whites have three biological children: Portia, 18 (named for White’s mom); Paxon, 16; and Preston, 14. Their youngest, 10-year-old Pria, is adopted.
“We’ve had her since she was five weeks old,” White said. “It was an emergency foster care situation. We had always talked about doing it, and because we took on Pria it opened the door for us to foster other kids.”
The family moved to Orcas from Puyallup, Washington four years ago. Kevin, who has worked in the hotel business for 30-plus years, is the manager of Worldmark Deer Harbor and Rochelle is a para-eductor at Orcas Island Elementary School. Their children have thrived in the Orcas community, where Kevin threw himself into volunteer opportunities. He’s been president of the booster club for three years and was a softball coach for two.
Portia, who readers may recognize as the Sounder’s Viking sports reporter, just graduated from Orcas High School and will play basketball at Northern Vermont University-Johnson in the fall.
“Our kids have experienced urban life, country life and island life. They are very versatile,” Kevin said. “And they are all really respectful. They mind their manners. All of the feedback I get from teachers is that they are polite and good kids. We trust they will make the right choice. We are a close family and communicate. We enjoy being around each other whether it’s hiking, being on the boat or in the water.”
Kevin says he and Rochelle balance each other out well. He “keeps moving and looking ahead” while she is more in the present moment, “making special time for each of the kids.”
“The hardest thing is knowing that they are growing up too fast, and they will be leaving,” Kevin said. “They will have their own lives, and won’t be with us as much,” Kevin said. “I want to spend a much time as I can with the kids to share their experiences with them. I don’t want them to look back and say I wasn’t there.”