He was called the Busiest Man in Fallbrook.  For over 25 years the multi-talented Bob White wrote, edited, and photographed the news of Fallbrook.  He made history by growing Fallbrook’s only newspaper.  He learned photojournalism from the best.  Bob White restored antique cars for love, he was an actor in local theater for fun and he could play the drums well enough to have sat in with the Freddy Martin big band.  

William Robert ‘Bob’ White was born on July 5th, 1928 in Roseburg, Oregon, a small farming and lumber town.  When his parents relocated to Oceanside, California, Bob attended Carlsbad High School during the mid-1940s.  After High School Bob attended college in San Diego, commuting to school in the Model A Ford his father bought for him at a cost of $125.  He briefly served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

As a civilian, Bob White still had his 1931 Ford Model A.  He kept it in good running condition.  In 1954 he joined the national Ford Model A Restoration Club (MARC), and drove his car to Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan to show it.  He took long trips in his car to the Grand Canyon, to San Francisco, and the California Redwoods.

In 1956, Bob was hired as news editor of the Fallbrook Enterprise.  He lived in a rented room on N. Main Ave, a few blocks from the Enterprise.   During the late 1950s, Bob White was the news department for the Fallbrook newspaper.  The Enterprise listed him on their masthead as W.R. ‘Bob’ White, to distinguish him from other Bob Whites in Fallbrook.  W.R and the publisher Wilbur Mackey performed 99% of the newsroom duties.  With just Mackay and White, the Enterprise grew from eight to twelve pages.  Eventually, they would add a Sports editor a Woman’s section editor, and additional staff.  Newspaper work must not have paid very much in these early years.  In 1956, Bob White was moonlighting by buying and selling used cars at Roy’s Garage which was on the NW corner of Hawthorne and Main.  On the car lot and everywhere around town, he was just ‘Bob.’

Reporting on all the news around town, including civic meetings, Bob found the time to cover the art shows and weddings, “I even learned how to spell chrysanthemum”, he quipped.  Bob was known to run out of the Enterprise office at the corner of Main & Elder St. to cover nearby car accidents.  He was often his own photographer, having learned photography from his friend Floyd Ahernd.  For many years, White also wrote an entertaining weekly column about vocabulary called “Words”.

Bob White was a confirmed bachelor.  Automobiles were the love of his life.  In 1960 Bob was moonlighting again by selling Rambler automobiles at Oceanside Rambler on Hill Street in Oceanside.  In 1961 Bob White and his Fallbrook friend Floyd Ahernd founded a North County Model A Club and together they organized a Fallbrook Model A car show on Mission Rd.  Because of his expertise, Bob White was one of the judges.

In 1964, perhaps looking for a better salary, Bob White left the Enterprise to be editor of the Palo Verde Valley Times in Blythe, Calif.   He also took a job at a newspaper in Paso Robles, Calif.  However, Bob clearly intended to return.  From a distance, he occasionally took out small ads in the Enterprise with friendly messages such as “Fallbrook, I Luv You. Bob White”.  He stopped by to say hello to friends whenever he passed through on his way to visit his parents in Oceanside.  In 1966, while Bob was still working in Paso Robles, White became a vice-president of the national Ford Model A Club.

By 1969, the Busiest Man in Fallbrook was back as the News Editor of the Fallbrook Enterprise, and living on Old Stage Road.  That same year, in February, the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce installed Bob White as one of their directors.  Also in February, White was elected as president of the Palomar Old Car Club, an offshoot of his Model A Club.  At the same time, in February, Bob White became temporary chairman of a committee to re-organize a theater group called the Fallbrook Players which used the Mission Theater on Main Ave as their home.  Bob White starred in many of the plays and he served as the Fallbrook Players publicity director.  The Fallbrook Players received a lot of favorable coverage in the Enterprise.

Also, in June 1969 Bob was chairman of the Avocadian chapter of the Antique Car Club that hosted a national Antique Car show in Fallbrook with Bob winning one of the prizes for his entry of a 1930 Ford Convertible Cabriolet.  White was a true aficionado of antique cars.  He owned and showed several antique automobiles over the years.  At the 1972 National Vintage Auto show, White displayed a 1935 Hupmobile that he refurbished.  In 1976, he won a trophy for his 1947 Triumph.  In 1974, Bob White was the President of the Fallbrook Vintage Car Club.

Throughout the 1970s, White continued as the Enterprise news editor, being one of the hardest working reporters and staff photographer. Apparently, nobody could keep Bob out of their club. He was an active member of the Fallbrook Rotary Club, the Optimists, and of the Fallbrook Kiwanis.  These connections may have been useful for his newspaper reporting, yet White was often taking on volunteer activities with these organizations.  His reporting in the newspaper on a wide range of local issues showed good understanding of the topics.  He knew how to use the phone to get interviews with key people.

Bob White often wrote summaries about different parts of Fallbrook history in the Fallbrook Enterprise.  On August 9th 1976, White became a founding member of the Fallbrook Historical Society when he signed the articles of incorporation along with George Kelsey and Don Dassault.   White served as the initial Historical Society vice president until the first official meeting could be scheduled.  He self-published a book called “North County People & Places” that was sold locally.

During the 1980s, Bob White was now residing in Oceanside on Avocado Rd in the home of his late parents. However, he continued to be the chief editor of the Fallbrook Enterprise while regularly performing with the Fallbrook Players.

Finally, 31 years after being hired by the late Wilbur Mackey, Bob White retired from the Enterprise in November 1987, without any fanfare or public notice.  Bob decided to move back to his hometown of Roseburg, Oregon. He immediately joined a theater group in Roseburg to pursue his hobby of performing in amateur plays.  For several years, Bob often returned to Fallbrook for extended stays to fulfill obligations to perform in Fallbrook Players’ productions.  In Oregon, Bob continued to receive his weekly subscription to the Fallbrook Enterprise.  Occasionally he wrote a letter to the (new) editors to comment on the Fallbrook news or to update friends with news of himself.  Bob White, passed away at his home in Roseburg, OR. in 2016 at the age of 87.

Tom Frew,
FHS Historian