Award-winning ABS master smith John White of Valparaiso, Florida, passed away Oct. 4 after a sudden illness. He was 71.
One of the most talented smiths in the ranks of the ABS, John was known for his elegant fixed blades in his beautiful damascus steel blades, natural handle materials and exquisite embellishment. He was also quite adept at such fixed blades in a take-down construction—that is, the knife was specially built to be easily disassembled and reassembled.
As John’s friend and fellow ABS master smith Terry Vandeventer noted in the American Bladesmith Society’s Express Email, “This is not only the greatest loss to Jill, [John’s] wife of 40 years, but to the knife community. Those who knew him saw a vivacious, smart, funny, and highly skilled artisan.” Vandeventer added that there would be no services and John’s ashes will be spread on the bayou near the Whites’ home.
The little man with the big smile enjoyed a meteoric rise in the fraternity of ABS smiths, winning a number of awards for his work, including several at the BLADE Show. Among them: Best Fixed Blade, 2014 BLADE Show; Best of Show and Best Damascus (see accompanying picture), 2013 BLADE Show; Best Bowie and Best Damascus Knife, 2011 BLADE Show; and Best Damascus, 2010 BLADE Show. Somehow it seemed fitting that John enjoyed so much success at the BLADE Show, as he was among the most vocal supporters of the event.
If you wish to make a comment on John’s passing and your memories of him, Click Here. A visit there will show you how many great makers and collectors thought the world of John. He will be missed.
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My wife and I met John and Jill at our first Blade Show. We kept getting lost and circling by their table, and Jill joked that we could remember where we were every time we saw her. I bought a knife from John that day, but don’t remember the year. I do remember it was the year he made Master Smith, and was very proud to finally be able to stamp the knife with “MS”. They were both so nice, and his knives so detailed and amazing. I’m proud to own one and grateful we had the chance to meet them both.