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I did not see this anywhere on the board and it seems maybe we should have a place to post these sorts of announcements. I have just been made aware of the death of Ralph White. I never met him, but hope maybe some of you here might have some stories to share about Ralph.
 
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Ralph White, the man who likely holds the record for participating in the most expeditions to the Titanic wreck site (13) and the American with the most dives (35), died suddenly yesterday, 4 February 2008. Ralph was a good friend to many members of this Board, a wonderful person and great source of information about all things Titanic. It was a privilege to know him and he will be sorely missed.

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Ralph White and fiancee Dr.Rosaly Lopes from JPL Laboratories,volcanologist and scientist in her own right.

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I knew Ralph extremely well. I met him back in 1998, when he asked me to represent him in litigation brought by RMST to preclude access to the Titanic by anyone but RMST. We have remained close ever since.

We eventually won that case and, in 2000, RMST hired us to organize its expedition to the Titanic. Ralph and I made the first Titanic dive of the new century together, in Mir 1 on Day 1 of the 2000 expedition. We went back to the Titanic again in 2005 for the History Channel expedition. On that trip, Ralph pulled himself out of the dive team after his 35th dive so he would not exceed the number of dives made by his boss, Jim Cameron, lest he offend his long-time employer. Nobody knew the Titanic or the wreck site better than Ralph, and he could always be relied upon to get the job done.

Although Ralph was best known for his exploration of the Titanic, he was a wealth of information on other topics. He circled the globe as a cinematographer for National Geographic, and we was always quick to pull out a slide or photo from his vast collection at his home (which was like a museum to exploration).

Perhaps the best description of Ralph appears in the book "Three Miles Down," in which all of Chapter 10 is devoted to him. He is described as the type of adventurer any red blooded, ten year old boy would admire, as if he was created by Clive Cussler or Ian Fleming. True to form, my 11 year old son adores Ralph. He spent hours with him at his house poring over slides from Ralph's trip to search for the Loch Ness Monster. He will be crushed when I tell him the news today.

Ralph was always a great friend. He will never be replaced.

David Concannon
 

Steven Hall

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I'd meet Ralph in Australia several years ago and found him an incredible and knowledgeable man about many other things apart from Titanic. As David mentioned above, he struck me as an adventurer and explorer, the kind many young boys would have aspired too after reading those old school boy journals of great expeditions into the unknown. When doing the first Titanic book with Bruce I spoke with him often, especially about the condition of the wreck. Ralph was a dynamic individual. A ‘lets-do it man’ with great drive and determination, a real zest for life.
Yes, he will be a great loss to everyone that knew him. I was looking forward to talking with him again in 2012.
God's speed ol chap.
 
Jul 12, 2005
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I was saddened to learn of Ralph White's death. I met him in person in 1990 when I was retained by Charles Sachs as an expert witness in a lawsuit Charles had against his insurance company for non-payment of a claim for lost Titanic china. Charles borrowed a book of photos of the Titanic artifacts from Ralph that showed the pattern of china Charles lost in a cab in Paris. Ralph lived in one of those houses hanging from a cliff in Silver Lake, and after seeing "Earthquake", I wouldn't go into the living room of the house, but stood near the door! He had a map of the world with pins stuck in the places he had been in his life and the map was almost covered with pins! He had a screw from the Titanic and other memories of his active life. He showed me some VistaVision 35mm film he had made to propose an expedition to the Titanic to the Imax company, which was done the next year. When the film "Titanica" was finished, he came to Branson, MO to open the new Imax Theatre. I did a press conference with Ralph and was his "ride" from the Springfield-Branson National Airport to and from Branson. I took him to the airport when he flew out and he gave me one of the Imax Expedition patches. He will be sorely missed. Here's a good biography of Ralph White:

http://www.sstitanic.com/html/ralph_white.htm

RIP Ralph! Robert H. Gibbons
 
Jan 7, 2002
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This is very sad- I had the pleasure of meeting Ralph at the 2000 Titanic exhibit in Dallas, and have kept in touch with him via email- He was a true titanic pioneer, and will be missed....

Tarn Stephanos
 

James Smith

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quote:

. . . Titanic . . . china Charles lost in a cab in Paris.

Not to hijack the thread, but this is a story I'd love to hear if Robert is at liberty to flesh out the details. Was this salvaged china?

--Jim​
 
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Ralph was a person who had a presence about him-And he was one of those rare people who wasn't afraid to sieze life by the reigns and live it to the absolute fullest .I'd wager to say he did more in an average year than most people do in a lifetime....

The Titanic community lost a key Titanic wreck researcher, as Ralph was there from the first moments of the discovery to the recent expeditions. He knew more about the layout of the Titanic wreck than anyone alive...

Another thing about Ralph that struck me was that he seemed totally devoid of the egomania that afflicts many Titanic researchers. He was a very friendly, very down to earth person. He treated people as equals, he never looked down his nose at other Titanic enthusiasts.
One thing I have in my collection I will now forever treasure is a videotape of 2 interviews,from a Dallas tv show, about the 2000 Titanic exhibit in Dallas.
The first half was an interview with Ralph, the second half was an interview with me- to be on the same Titanic special with Ralph was an honor.

I believe Ralph is going to be buried- It would be nice if an urn of his remains, or a possession of his, or some kind of rememberance could be deposited on the Titanic wreck.
Titanic was always a part of him, it would be nice if he could always be a part of Titanic.

regards

Tarn Stephanos
 
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Charles Sachs bought some White Star china with a different code mark on the back than he had seen before. He took the china to Paris to compare with the china brought up from the Titanic and shown on the television special "Down to the Titanic Live". I want to emphasize that Charles's china was NOT salvaged china but was determined to be an "overrun" by the china company that made the Titanic's china. The code mark on the back of Charles's china matched the code mark on the salvaged china, but Charles's china never was on the ship. He was checking out of his hotel after the live show and left his china in the back of his cab. He never got it back, so filed an insurance claim. The insurance company didn't want to pay what Charles thought the china was worth, since it was from the company's run of china for the Titanic. He sued the insurance company and I was the expert witness. We entered into evidence Ralph White's book showing the artifacts salvaged from the Titanic with a photo of the back of the Titanic's run with that special code mark. We won the case! Robert H. Gibbons
 
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Ralph White should be remembered as being the first explorer to the Titanic's distress call position. In the summer of 1978, Ralph, Emory Kristof and another National Geographic Society photo lab technician dropped a "boomerang" camera at the Titanic's distress call position to see how deep the silt was. The "boomerang" camera dropped a weight as it got close to the bottom, and then shot a couple of still frames as it came back to the surface. At one of ONRS's Titanic Events about 1980 on the Princess Louise, Ralph showed me the slides of those photographs. The silt did not cover the weight and there was a rat-tailed fish in one of the shots. Ralph, Dr. Ballard and Emory Kristof were on the French leg of the 1985 Titanic expedition. Ralph was Ballard's documentary film cameraman. He was on the American leg of the expedition, and in one of the documentaries, you can hear one of the members of the expedition say they should wake Ralph up to start filming, since they just found debris. They sent the cook to wake Ballard, and the rest is history! Robert H. Gibbons
 
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There is also the very famous photograph of Dr. Ballard watching the video monitors as Titanic first comes in to view, and standing off to his right filming him is Ralph White.
Sadly, Ralph never received formal credit from National Geographic for his work on the Titanic discovery expedition, and his film was confiscated before the Knorr reached shore. However, just last week, National Geographic agreed to credit Ralph for his work on an upcoming 25th anniversary release of this program. We will see what happens now.
 
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>>However, just last week, National Geographic agreed to credit Ralph for his work on an upcoming 25th anniversary release of this program<<

That's good news. It's unfortunate that the man didn't live to see it but it's always a positive step to see credit given where it's due.
 

Ed Weichsler

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Here are Ralph's funeral arrangements. The viewing will be Saturday, February 9th, from 5-9p at Church of the Hills in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills (6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles CA 90068). His memorial service will be Tuesday, February 13th at 1p at the Hall of Liberty, also at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (address above). A wake will follow the service nearby. There is a wonderful florist who works with the cemetery, if you wish to send flowers: http://flowershop.forestlawn.com/ . You may also send your condolences to: The Family of Ralph White, 2628 Corralitas Drive, Los Angeles CA 90039 and Dr. Rosaly Lopes (Ralph's fiance), 278 Bonita Avenue, Pasadena CA 91106.

Those wishing to send a charitable donation (in Ralph's name) can do no better than two of Ralph's favorites:

The Adventurers Club Foundation
2433 N. Broadway
P.O. Box 31226
Los Angeles, CA 90031
~ OR ~
The Explorers Club Legacy Society
46 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021
 
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I wanted to correct a statement I made about Ralph White and Emory Kristof going to the Titanic's distress position in 1978. The living creature photographed by the boomerang camera when it lifted off the bottom was a brittle star, not a rat-tailed fish. Also, the ship they used to get to the Titanic's distress position was the Coast Guard vessel Evergreen. Robert H. Gibbons
 
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I Googled to find the name of the third member of the 1978 party on the Evergreen to photograph the ocean bottom at the Titanic's distress call position (Al Chandler) and found this biography of Ralph White on the Titanic Experience (Orlando, FL) website:

1976: Member of the original team of Dr. Robert Ballard from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Emory Kristof from the National Geographic Society, and Bill Tantum of the Titanic Historical Society that first proposed the idea of mounting an expedition to search for the wreck site of the R.M.S. TITANIC.

1978: Cameraman for the National Geographic Photographic team of Emory Kristof and Al Chandler that first deployed a 12,500 foot Deep Ocean Imaging & Lighting Systems from the U.S. Coast Guard cutter "EVERGREEN" over the purported sinking site of the TITANIC, 41 degrees 46 min utes north, 50 degrees 14 minutes west.

1985: Cameraman for the four man American Team of Dr. Robert Ballard, Emory Kristof, and Billy Lang, from Woods Hole to begin phase one (the sonar search) for the R.M.S. TITANIC aboard the IFREMER Research Vessel "LE SUROIT" utilizing the French "S.A.R." Side Scan Sonar System.

Cameraman for the phase two (Electronic Imaging Search) aboard the Woods Hole Research Vessel "KNORR", which found the wreck of the TITANIC on September 1, 1985 utilizing the towed vehicles "ANGUS" & "ARGO".

1987: American Team Leader and Sub Sea Photographer for the TITANIC Artifact Recovery Expedition aboard the IFREMER Research Vessel "NADIR", utilizing the 20,000 foot deep diving submersible "NAUTILE." recovered and documented over 1,400 artifacts for the International Preservation & Trust Fund.

1991: IMAX Sub Sea Cameraman and navigator for the feature length Imax film "TITANICA", utilizing the Russian Research Vessel "KELDYSH" and their two 20,000 foot submersibles "MIR 1 & MIR 2 which were equipped with the newly designed 5,000 watt H.M.I. Lighting Systems, which he help develop.

1992: Co-expedition leader for the MAREX / R.O.V. TITANIC operation aboard the R/V SEA MUSSEL.

1994: Developed specialized photographic & lighting equipment and planned the second unit filming on the wreck of the TITANIC for filmmaker Jim Cameron.

1995: Expedition Leader and Second Unit Cameraman aboard the R/V Keldysh for the hundred million dollar 20th Century Fox /Jim Cameron feature film "TITANIC".

STATISTICS: Number of dives: 35 aboard a deep diving submersible. abort due to a battery buss failure at depth.

Numbers of hours: over 400+ hours on the wreck site.

Titanic Expeditions:

1978; 1985; 1987; 1991; 1992; 1995; 1999; 2000, 2001 & 2005.

This biography shows in detail Ralph White's involvement in finding, photographing, and exploring the wreck of the Titanic. Robert H. Gibbons
 
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You will be hard pressed to find another person who had such a strong passion and ability to seize life and live it to its absolute fullest. Ralph was one of the most accomplished Titanic explorers in history, and it was refreshing and rare how he didn't have the egomania that hits many people in the Titanic community. He was very approachable, very honest and very friendly.
Titanic was not his only subject of interest or exploration- He was a true explorer in every sense...
Ralph will be missed..


regards

Tarn Stephanos
 
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