Last modified on October 26, 2019, at 23:26

Joanne White

Lillian Joanne Lyles White

(Philanthropist and educator from Alexandria, Louisiana)

Born September 12, 1929
Rapides Parish


Died March 9, 2011 (aged 81)
Alexandria, Louisiana
Political Party Democrat
Spouse Paul Donald White, Sr. (married 1951-2011 her death)

Paul Donald White, Jr.
Charles Nathan White
Frederick Lamar White, Sr. (1959-2001)
Paula Elizabeth White Hayes
Martha Anne White Johnston Wallace Mark White (1971-1974)
Samuel Pickles and Marie Myrtle Guy Lyles

Religion United Methodist

Lillian Joanne Lyles White (September 12, 1929 – March 9, 2011), known as Joanne White, was an American educator, philanthropist, civil rights advocate, and civic leader from Alexandria, Louisiana. With her huband, Paul Donald White, Sr., a large real estate developer, White established or co-established numerous charitable organizations across Central Louisiana, including the Hope House, Angel Care, the Shepherd Center, the Rapides Parish branch of Habitat for Humanity, the Central Louisiana Food Bank, Care and Share, and Christmas Cheer for Children.[1]

White was the first president of the Louisiana High School Speech League and Tournament of Champions. After her death, White she was cited as one of "Louisiana's finest daughters" by the state legislature.[2]

White was the eighth of twelve children of Samuel Pickles Lyles and the former Marie Myrtle Guy. She was born in the cotton farming community of Cheneyville in south Rapides Parish. Her parents operated one of the most successful cotton farms in the South, known as the Compromise Plantation, but they did not own their land and home. In 1951, the Lyleses were named by American Magazine as "Farm Family of the Year." As a teenager, White wrote a poem about her mother, which was subsequently read on a national radio program by former Miss America broadcaster Bert Parks on Mother’s Day. White was an early advocate of desegregation of public schools. Her eldest sister, Sue Eakin, was a well-known Louisiana historian who translated the diary that became the acclaimed film, Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup. Her grandson, Frederick Lamar White, Jr. (born 1982), is an Alexandria-based independent journalist who publishes The Bayou Brief , a news and cultural publication. He is the former publisher of the blog, CenLamar. A victim of cerebral palsy, Lamar White is also an advocate for disabled persons.[3]

By not purchasing their own land, the Lyleses instead dedicated their surplus assets to the higher education of their children. At the age of sixteen, White graduated from Lecompte High School in Lecompte. In 1950, she obtained a bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge with concentration in science, speech, and social studies. While at LSU, she was a founding member of the Delta Gamma sorority. In 1999, White earned a certificate from the Summer Leadership Program of the School of Divinity of Harvard University. From 1950 to 1963, White taught at her husband's alma mater, Bolton High School in Alexandria, at which she concentrated in history and coached debate.[3]

Throughout her life, Mrs. White and her husband were active in the First United Methodist Church of Alexandria, at which she taught Bible study and sang in the church choir for nearly sixty years. She was a district Methodist lay leader.[3]

In the 1980s, White worked to build the Hope House, a shelter for battered women and their children; the Shepherd Center, an ecumenical ministry for the poor and dispossessed; and Angel Care, a charity that provided services and resources to the parents of disabled children. In the early 1990s, U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush named the Hope House one of his "1,000 Points of Light."[3]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, White worked with the office of Louisiana Governor Mike Foster to investigate discrepancies between the treatment of incarcerated women and juveniles. When she was in her late seventies, White chaired the Rapides Parish Workforce Investment Board. She received the Habitat for Humanity's Founders Award, the National Association of Social Worker's "Public Citizen of the Year Award", the Lions Club's "Outstanding Citizen Award", the Louisiana Methodist Children and Families Service Award, the Young Women's Christian Association's "Outstanding Community Leader Award", the Central Louisiana Professional Women's "Visionary Award", and Cenla Focuss Cenla-ian of the Year in 2007,[4] nine years before her husband obtained the same honor.

White died at the age of eighty-one at her home in Alexandria. She are her husband are interred at the Highland Park United Methodist Church and Columbarium in Dallas, Texas.[3]


  1. Joanne Lyles White Dies At 81. Vermillion Today. Retrieved on May 7, 2018.
  2. First Extraordinary Session 2011, House Resolution No. 13, by Representatives Herbert Dixon, Chris Hazel, and Christopher J. Roy, Jr.. Retrieved on May 7, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Frederick Lamar White, Jr. (March 10, 2011). Lillian Joanne Lyles White obituary. Retrieved on May 7, 2018.
  4. Holly Jo Linzay (June 12, 2007). Cenla-ian of the Year. Cenla Focus. Retrieved on May 7, 2018.