Tag Archives: Warner White

Retro River Rats Bonding

A 1976 River Rats crew
Photo/courtesy Marc Edelman, Facebook

With the recent death and impending memorial of former longtime Fair Havenite and River Rats purser, Warner White, thoughts turn back to some good old days of being a kid rat, so to speak, and hanging out down by the river.

It’s a rite of passage in the Rumson-Fair Haven area that kid life be rife with river-oriented activities.

River Rats was the king of that sort of thing — especially in the summertime. The little riverfront nook at the foot of Battin Road in Fair Haven was that special place where kids and boating-bonded buddies learned how to sail and navigate riverfront life with the sand between their toes and perpetual smiles on their faces. It was a unique little sailors’ club. Still is.

River Rats has been a Fair Haven institution since 1955.

It all started like this: “In October 1955 shortly after he moved from New York, Captain Walter Isbrandtsen wrote to a friend: ‘I have purchased a house in a small community on the New Jersey coast where I am gradually becoming active … in an organization known as Dads Incorporated … whose activities include a newly established program designed to take full advantage of a neighboring river …'”

Captain Isbrandtsen organized the family-oriented sailing group and became the first Skipper of River Rats, as it is written in the River Rats’ biographical history.

So, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day takes us back to the U.S.A. bicentennial year of 1976 and a bunch of young River Rats.

This crew is comprised mostly of RFH classmates who gathered by the boat launch at the end of Battin Road in Fair Haven to offer a glimpse of their day as a reminder of what growing up by the river is all about.

Sail on! RIP, Warner White …

— Elaine Van Develde

Rumson Memorial Set for Former River Rats Purser, Warner White

Former longtime Fair Haven resident and purser of the River Rats, Elijah Warner White, died on March 14 at Riverview Medical Center. He was 91 and living in Red Bank prior to his death.

A memorial service for White is slated for March 25 at 2 p.m. at The First Presbyterian Church of Rumson, 4 East River Rd., Rumson.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1925 to the former Florence Gage and Percy Warner White, he earned degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Michigan. He relocated to New Jersey to work as an electronics engineer at Bell Labs, Holmdel.

Warner was a skilled photographer and a member of the Guild of Creative Art in Shrewsbury.

He served with the US Army 94th Infantry in combat 1944-45.

He was an elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Rumson, long-time resident of Fair Haven, and past purser of the River Rats Sailing Club.

Warner was predeceased by his son Christopher in 1997.

He is survived by: his wife of 65 years, the former Janet Brown; his son Philip; daughter Margaret (Peggy) Milliken; grandchildren Kathryn LeTrent and Robin Milliken; and great-granddaughter Margaret LeTrent.


The Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St, Red Bank, is entrusted with the arrangements.

— Edited obituary, courtesy of Thompson Memorial Home.

Honoring Vets in Rumson, Fair Haven

By Elaine Van Develde

“Many of those who were drafted into war many years ago were only seniors in high school. They were so young, their faces looked like dough,” Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli said, explaining the significance of what is dubbed the Doughboy Statue that stands at Memorial Park.

It’s where the Veterans Day ceremony in the borough took place on Tuesday. It’s also where some of those once dough-faced soldiers, now wearing the passage of time and life experience on their faces and in their eyes, gathered to pay tribute to fellow vets, those who have passed, those killed in the line of duty and those still in service.

They gathered in both Fair Haven and Rumson.

In Fair Haven, World War II vet Warner White, recipient of the Purple Heart award and Combat Infantry Badge, made his way up to the mic to speak of his time on the Atlantic French Coast at Utah Beach (D plus 94) and the Battle of the Bulge.

A native of Ohio, White has made Fair Haven his home since 1962.

Modest, as many World War II vets are, White quipped, “Ya see this picture of me here (pointing to the program). They make it look like I’m saluting. I really wasn’t. I was just combing my hair.”

He spoke of his experiences and all listened intently, including the very young, doughy-faced students in attendance.

Also recognized were a couple of the oldest living World War II vets in the audience: Ray Taylor, who served in Korea as well, and Oscar Hille, of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Also still living in Fair Haven, Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect has learned, is 97-year-old World War II vet, Ken Curchin.

In Rumson, special recognition was paid to Jack Donovan Fowler, who was a First Lieutenant in the 7th Armored Division of the Battle of the Bulge.

Captain Daniel J. Edwards was the “presiding officer of the day” for the ceremony and Captain Mike Lilley, of the U.S. Marine Corps, spoke. Lilley, a Rumson resident, is executive director of Better Education for Kids, Inc.

All are the faces of service to the country. There were many thank-you’s and handshakes Tuesday morning. And Mayor Lucarelli called for that and more consideration to be a constant.

“In war there are and (have been) so many casualties and lives lost … Many who served and return have wounds that cannot be seen, such as post traumatic stress disorder and brain trauma …

“If you see a vet, thank a vet. If you see a vet and it seems like he’s having a hard time, understand. Go up to him and comfort him if you can.”

The casualties of the wars … 

• World War I, 115,000 lives lost;

• World War II, 405,000 lives lost;

• Korean War, 36,000 lives lost;

• Vietnam, 50,000;

• Persian Gulf conflicts, 7,000.