‹ Return to Current Obituaries

Order Flowers now for guaranteed delivery before Dr. Bess's visitation.

Dr. Bess White

Celebration of Life - Dr. Bess Smith White

The year was approximately 1942 and Hulon and Jessierine Shepard Smith decided to leave the economic and social desperation of Rienzi, Mississippi for the promise of a brighter future in the then fastest growing city in the world: Detroit, Michigan. The Smiths like many of their contemporaries were part of a wave of African American families who relocated from the Deep South during the era of the “The Great Migration.” In tow was their first six of 9 children: Hulon Sylvester, Lorine, Gladyce Marie, Bess, Wilmath Lena and John Harrison.

Dr. Bess Smith White was born September 9, 1936 in Rienzi, Mississippi the 4th of 9 children. She transitioned – Thursday, June 16, 2022 at the age of 85 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Family/Early life:

  • Her remaining siblings were born after their arrival in Detroit, Michigan: Zelma (aka “Z”) Louise, Charles David and Anthony Wayne. All whom have preceded her in death except for her sister W. Lena and youngest brother Anthony Wayne.
  • She married Diamond Stewart and their union blessed them with their only child, Sheila who preceded her in death
  • Being a hopeless romantic, she married James Edward Moore, who preceded her in death as well as her stepsons - Michael and David Moore
  • Never giving up on love, she married Herman White, who preceded her in death as well as her Stepdaughter – Valeria Valentine.


  • Attended Detroit Public Schools.
  • Attended Wayne State University where she obtained her two (2) Master’s in Economics and General Administration.
  • Attended Capella University where she obtained her PhD in Management at the age of 70.
  • She was also a licensed minister.


  • She retired from General Motors (GM) after nearly 30 years in many roles completing her career as the Vice President of Urban Affairs.
  • She taught Economics at Highland Park Community College.
  • She authored a book entitled, “Supply-Side Christians Biblical Economics” in 2007
  • She was an Adjunct Economic professor, she taught online courses for over 10 years at Strayer University, and a number of other universities in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area.

Spiritual Life:

  • She accepted Christ at an early age and was a good and faithful servant. She taught Sunday School, became the Director of Christian Education, the Dean of a Bible Training Institute as well as many other roles.
  • She had a deep and unwavering relationship with Christ. She read, she studied, she taught, she prayed, she meditated, she attended every Christian Conference (land or sea) and she would admit that she lived her best life doing it.
  • Her early walk with God started at Russell Street Baptist Church, Detroit Michigan where the Reverend Stephen Calhoun Campbell, Jr. was the Pastor.
  • Word of Faith International Christian Center, Detroit, Michigan where Bishop Keith Butler is the Pastor.
  • Faith Christian Center, Smyrna, Georgia, where Keith Andre Butler was the Pastor.
  • Under the pastorate of Lucius McDowell of Agape International Ministries, she served as Dean of the Agape International Bible Training Institute in McDonough, Georgia. She was instrumental in obtaining the Institute’s accreditation and she also, pioneered the very first class.
  • World Changers International Church, Atlanta, Georgia where Bishop Creflo Dollar is the Pastor
  • Her final membership resided with the Word of Life Christian Center International, Nashville, Tennessee where Dr. Alexander Arthur is her Pastor.   She also served as the Dean of Life Academy Bible college and was again instrumental in obtaining accreditation from the State of Tennessee.

Interests / Hobbies:

  • She was very ambitious, strong-willed, singularly focused, and loved a challenge. She was fearless, fierce and full of life. Her entrepreneurial Father instilled in her a spirit “To never give up” and you can achieve anything at any age if you put the work into it. She was the “Harriet Tubman” of her time (Leader against all odds, not scared of anything, fighter, probably thought she was Moses (nickname given to Harriet T.) and she tried to bring along the family even when we were not interested. She was a force to be reckoned with.
  • She absolutely loved teaching and was a lifelong learner. She taught online classes well into her 80’s. She was old school and was tough on her students but she wanted the best out of everyone she came in contact with. She would always say, “My goal is to make the situation or person better after I’m finished”. She even took a programming/development class in HTML (Hypertext Programming Language) in her 80’s.
  • While obtaining one of her many degrees, she acquired her real estate license and invested in real estate.
  • She was a serious about everything that she did and that included playing the game of golf. She enjoyed golfing trips and outing with her female and male friends/competitors. And yes, she talked plenty of smack while hitting that little white ball.
  • She loved traveling with friends and alone and she saw the world via flights and cruising, Beijing, China; London, England; throughout Europe; Jerusalem, Israel; all over the Caribbean Islands; Cancun, Mexico; and throughout the United States from Chicago to NYC to LA. She even loved road trips and would take over the driving duties again well into her 80’s.
  • She enjoyed working out and even completed the Music City Half Marathon (13.1 miles) with her niece Pamela Evans for her 80th birthday.
  • She always looked forward to her yearly trip back home to Detroit to have lunch with her GM (General Motors) Ladies.
  • And STYLE was her middle name. She was always elegance, very fashionable and paired every outfit with 4-inch heels into her 80’s. As she drove away in her one of many new Cadillacs.

We will cherish her life and legacy:

  • Her Stepdaughters – Peggy Thomas, Patricia (Gary) Fowlkes, and Brenda Moore.
  • Her Stepson – Greg (Angela) White.
  • Her remaining Sister – W. Lena and Brother Anthony
  • Her dedicated and loving niece and nephew, Pamela Dixon Evans (Marvin Jr.)
  • Her lifelong friends - Rose Faison and Ernestine Smith Morrison
  • Her Christian Family – Pastor Lucius and First Lady Donna McDowell and their children and Pastor Alexander Arthur and (Goddaughter) First Lady-Dr. Clarissa Arthur & the Word of Life Christian Center International Church Family.
  • And a host of nieces/nephews, cousins, many friends and colleagues.

Visitation Saturday June 25, 2022, 11-12 with funeral to follow at Word of Life International 4100 Clarksville Pike. Burial in Greenwood North.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Bess White, please visit our flower store.


A photo was added for Dr. Bess White

Dianne Spurlock Aug 10 2022 3:39 PM

I thank God for having the opportunity to know Dr. White. May she rest in peace.

CRYSTAL ENGLISH Jun 25 2022 11:02 AM

In Memory of Bess White: We cherish the wonderful memories of the many good times shared with you! Thank you, God, for the Family love and care we carry in our hearts.

Veronica Sorrell & the Sorrell Families of Chicago, IL and St. Louis, MO Jun 24 2022 4:24 AM

A photo was added for Dr. Bess White

Pastor Lucius & Donna McDowell and the Agape International Ministries Bible Training Institute Jun 23 2022 6:33 PM

A candle was lit in memory of Dr. Bess White

Alicia Jun 23 2022 12:50 PM

To the White Family:

I was sorry to hear about the passing of your loved one. Death it liken to a thief that comes and takes away our love ones. Or due to old age and sickness we lose that precious quality of life that leads to death.

However, have you ever asked: Is death the end of it all? Or is there something else after death? The bible clears up any question we might have about death. It also shows that there is a real hope for persons who have faith.

Yours truly,

Patricia A Rison Jun 23 2022 11:04 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Dr. Bess White

Angel Jun 22 2022 9:36 AM