Sequim man gone, not forgotten

Calvin White works on the house he recently helped to build in Tijuana, Mexico, earlier this month.  - Submitted photo
Calvin White works on the house he recently helped to build in Tijuana, Mexico, earlier this month.
— image credit: Submitted photo


Calvin Josiah William White, but better known as “CJ” or “Josiah,” recently had celebrated his 18th birthday on June 29 and had just returned from a missions trip where he helped build a home in Tijuana, Mexico, with Dungeness Community Church.

This particular missions trip was not out of the ordinary for White, as he always was contributing to his community in one way or another. Whether it was volunteering with Sequim’s Mat Rats wrestling program, participating to the Dungeness Community Church or Sequim Bible Church worship team, working hard at his job with Rootzone, caring for his seven siblings or simply taking the time to talk, listen and encourage anyone, White “was truly an admirable young man always willing to share his heart with his community,” said Karen Roedell, White’s grandmother.

White drowned July 19 in Lake Cuashman while with family members at a reunion.

White and family were gathered at Skokomish Park for a family reunion Satwurday when White went missing after he was last seen swimming in Lake Cushman with one of his sisters who had lost sight of him, said William Adam, a detective with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.

After the family searched for White for about 10-20 minutes with no results, a concerned 9-1-1 call was placed at 12:35 p.m. By 3:35 p.m., Mason County Search and Rescue Dive Team officials had found White’s body in about 12 feet of water within the designated swim area.

Wes Stockwell, Mason County coroner, identified the body as Sequim resident, Calvin Josiah William White, 18, son of Samuel White and Peggy Roedell, and provided the official cause of death following an autopsy as drowning by fresh water.

“It’s a horrific tragedy,” Adam said. “A lot of people don’t know Lake Cushman is one of the largest bodies of water in the mountains and because of the lake’s elevation the water is much colder.”


His calling

Previously home-schooled and a student at Olympic Peninsula Academy, White attended Peninsula Community College this past school year through the Running Start program. White was preparing to be the college’s upcoming Christian Student Fellowship program president, said Anita Kreitle, a close family friend.

“He was a young man wise beyond his years,” Kreitle said. “CJ was a gifted writer of short stories and poetry and loved to play drums and guitar with the praise team at DCC and also the youth praise team at Sequim Bible.”

In his mid-teens, White told his mother he felt God had created him to do more than just earn paychecks, said Peggy Roedell, White’s mother. In order to pursue a life in ministry work White planned to study linguistics and build upon his passion for woodworking and craftsmanship by learning to build houses. With these skills White anticipated traveling to Mexico to build homes for those without and rely on his linguistics to be able to communicate and connect with the people, Peggy Roedell said.

“’Mom, I’ve been thinking,’ is a phase that I’m really going to miss,” Roedell said.

White was not only a pillar of strength for his family, or anyone else in need, he constantly was challenging himself, facing his fears and thinking of new ideas to share.

White had just quit his job on Friday to begin to prepare for his next trip to Mexico.


A role model

Having lived with his mother and seven siblings in a single-parent home for the past seven years and as the oldest male in the household, White acted with great responsibility and provided a good example for his younger siblings, Karen Roedell said.

White actively searched for new and unique ways to connect with each of his siblings. Whether it was dancing with his sister Anna, debating and sharing ideas with his sister Karesandra, playing the guitar with his brother Nekoda, woodworking with his sister Samantha, teaching his brothers Noah and Titus to wrestle or reading his youngest brother, Eliel to sleep, White consciously was giving a piece of himself to his siblings, Peggy Roedell said.

Although other interests and work kept White from continuing to wrestle after his freshman year, he continued to volunteer with the Mat Rats wrestling program to support his younger brothers’ desire to wrestle with the Mat Rats.

“I’ve known CJ since he was born,” said Charles Drabek, head wrestling coach at Sequim High School. “CJ always has helped out and volunteered with Mat Rats and always was there to cheer and support all the wrestlers, but as a human being he was looking out for everyone.”

Despite White’s soft-spoken, quiet and calm personality, his fortitude to live fully and his ability to speak with anyone about his faith was way more than expected, especially from such a young person, Drabek said.

White always had had an affinity to test everything, Peggy Roedell said. Facing his greatest fears was one of the ways White tested and entrusted his faith, and as an introvert, White recently had challenged himself to find a stranger everyday and pray for them or with them if they would like, Peggy Roedell said.

“’A blessing is when God causes something to happen to us for our own good,’ CJ told me,” Peggy Roedell said. “And CJ lived by that.”

A “CJ White Special Fund” has been set up at First Federal. Donations may be deposited at any branch or mailed to First Federal at P.O. Box 1025, Sequim 98382. The Sequim First Federal branch can be reached at 681-7671.


Gathering and sharing time for Calvin Josiah William White

When: 7 p.m., tonight, Wednesday, July 23

Where: Dungeness Community Church at 45 Eberle Lane

More info: Contact DCC staff at 683-7333.


Reach Alana Linderoth at


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