Around town: Buckhead resident writes first novel at age 80

Tim White and his wife Ruth. (Joe Earle)

Tim White’s family knew he had a story to tell.

They encouraged him to write it. This led him, at age 80, to his first novel.

White, a resident of Buckhead, now jokes that his daughters probably encouraged him to write because they feared he would have too much free time after his retirement after practicing law all his life, “and would be a nuisance for their mother. “He worked his entire life as a lawyer and ran his own practice in Atlanta for 25 years, so he was used to keeping busy.

But her daughters recognized a good story that needed to be told when they heard one. After all, they are also storytellers. Both are published novelists. One, Lauren Myracle, writes novels for young adults. Her young stepsister, Susan Rebecca White, tells stories from the South.

“I really knew he had a great story to tell,” said Susan Rebecca White. “What I was thinking was her birth story – losing her mother so young. …. I just think it’s okay for most people to go back and look at their stories. When you write things down, you may see things differently from the story in your head that you have told yourself over and over again.

His wife, Ruth, also believed White should attempt to tell his story. She is a painter herself and saw her talent for writing years ago. “I knew he could write,” she said. “He wrote wonderful letters.

White grew up writing – he was the son of a small town reporter – so he decided to follow his daughters into writing books. He took creative writing classes at Georgia State and worked on short stories. He could walk to class from his law office, he said.

At first he focused on writing about the loss of his mother. But as he continued to work, the story expanded to include more events from his life. The work ultimately led to “Riley & Ben”, a novel that tells the story of a father, son and their family and is captioned “Life Gives a Second Chance”. (The author is listed as “JT White” for James Timothy, he said. It was published earlier this year.)

“It’s fiction,” he said. “It’s based on events that have happened in my life, but some are embellished and exaggerated.”

It turns out there were a lot of dramas taken from his life story to make it into a novel. His mother died and he was seriously injured in a car crash in 1941. White, a baby under one year old, was thrown from the car through a window. He said family members had removed pieces of glass from his scalp “for a few years”.

(Joe Earle)

He also had lasting problems with depth perception. “If you throw a baseball at me, it’s hard for me to know where to put my hands to catch it,” he said. “I was a guy who wanted to play baseball with Stan Musial, but couldn’t.”

White was raised by an aunt and uncle while his father served in World War II. Then, when his father returned and remarried, he moved in with his father’s new family. His relationship with his mother-in-law was not good. He described him as “undecided,” he said. “She really didn’t want me,” he said. “She wasn’t a bad person. She was just a scared person.

Writing about their relationship “was cathartic,” he said. “It made me, frankly, less hostile towards her.”

He and Ruth attended the same high school in a small town. She “had a crush on him,” she said recently as they sat in the light-flooded living room of their home in a skyscraper in Buckhead, but she was only an eighth grade and he was a senior, four years older. . He barely noticed her. They eventually broke up and married other people.

Years later, they saw each other again. “At that point, I noticed her,” he said. “I can tell you the exact time. It was Sunday. In front of the Methodist church, I saw her and thought, “My God, this is Ruth.

They matched. “There was a recognition that we should be together,” he said, and they got together. They married in 1974. Together they have six children, thirteen grandchildren and share their home with dogs named Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Now that he has told a version of his story in his book, does he plan to do another novel? White initially said he had some ideas, but then admitted he wasn’t sure who he was feeling about tackling another project like this. “It’s such a hard job,” he said. “I’m not sure I want to work that hard again. “

In addition, he said, “I told the story.

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