LIZ WHITE: 1930–2018
An Appreciation

Liz White

 

Elizabeth (Liz) Pendleton White passed this September in Riberas after a brief illness. Liz was a multi-gifted lady of the Arts and Humanities, one of life’s fortunate people who recognize and act on their own personal callings from a young age. An accomplished stage actress, backstage maven, a published poet, writer, animal welfare advocate, and community volunteer, her love for Lakeside spanned the last 22 years of her life.

Moving to Lakeside was a homecoming for Liz. Her Mexican grandmother — whom she considered the most important influence in her life—and American grandfather, a mining engineer, had left their Mexico City home for the United States with their daughter Carmen (Liz’s mother) during the Mexican Revolution near the beginning of the 20th century. Returning to Mexico was a dream realized.

Liz was born in Los Angeles where her mother and father werepursuing show business lives. They parted company soon after her birth, her mother moving to New York City with Liz where she had a short stage career, long enough to be befriended by Helen Hayes, Liz’s godmother. Liz spent her early years in Riverdale, The Bronx, attending Horace Mann Academy, and as a young girl lived several years in pre-Castro Cuba, where her stepfather was a Standard Oil executive.

Returning to Long Island, her parents, in Liz’s own words, “turned her loose at age 14 to apprentice in Summer Stock where she earned her Equity card and never looked back.” She would later live several years in the Panama Canal Zone with her newly-commissioned second lieutenant West Point graduate husband. After divorcing, Liz moved to Santa Monica, California, her home base for many years.

Liz credited her parents with passing on the “performance gene.” Throughout her life, wherever she found herself, Liz pursued her abiding love of theatre and acting, performing in both professional and community shows, and just as often in “frequent starring roles off-stage as waitress, hat check girl, copywriter, personal assistant, model, and such.” Her theatre resume in the States is a roll call of so many important plays. She had major roles in Summer and Smoke, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Diary of Anne Frank, among others.

In 1996, Liz first visited Lake Chapala. Her discovery of the Lakeside Little Theatre (LLT) forever bound her to the community. Over the next two decades Liz would serve two terms on LLT’s Board of Directors as First Vice President, heading up the committee responsible for each season’s schedule of plays.She supported Theatre productions working backstage, in the lightning booth, managing the bar, wherever the need. And of course she acted, in all some 16 plays, her last appearance being 2014’s Blood Relations as Lizzie Borden’s older sister. Her most iconic LLT role was as “Blanche DuBois” in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. For years afterwards, she was stopped on the street by fans expressing their admiration for her performance.

Liz was a founding member of The Naked Stage Readers Theatre, serving as a board member, and directing and acting in shows for almost ten years. She won awards for her poetry, receiving El Ojo del Lago’s yearly ‘Best Poem’ award on two occasions. She was an active member of several Lakeside writers’ groups (including the Ajijic Writers Group) and early on wrote a Performing Arts column for the Ojo. A voracious reader, she devoured thousands of books through the years, and was, in large part, self- educated through her reading habits. Liz loved animals, raising and caring for dozens over her lifetime, and was on the Board of Directors of the Lake Chapala Humane Society, a precursor to todays Lakeside animal charities.

A rationalist by nature, a realist through life experience, feisty, spunky and affirming describe her approach to life’s journey. Her memorial is in the hearts, minds and emotions of the countless theatre goers moved by her accomplished performances over seventy plus years, and in the memories of so many Lakeside friends and associates.

Submitted by Fred Koesling

 

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