Whitey White gets water ski 'Hall' call

For years, Whitey White's Water Ski and Thrill Show wowed audiences across the state of Michigan with its groundbreaking antics behind a power boat. Grand Haven's Lyle "Whitey' White was the show's main attraction, orchestrating everything from skiing atop a 20-foot ladder to defying gravity by soaring over spectators' heads while attached to a giant kite.
Matt DeYoung
Jun 3, 2011

For his groundbreaking contributions to the sport, White, 80, has been inducted into the Michigan Water Ski Hall of Fame. An open house will be held in his honor on Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the Grand Haven Gospel Chapel, 1805 Waverly Ave.

Anyone involved with the Whitey White Water Ski and Thrill Show is invited to attend the open house. Movies and pictures will be on display, and refreshments will be served.

White credits his success to his creativity and his ability to get things done.

“I always give my God most of the credit, all of the credit really, but I couldn’t a went no where if I didn’t have the gift of gab,” White said with a grin. “You had to be the best, and be able to talk the best. Then, when you get in front of them, you had to prove you were the best.”

White recalls times when he went up in front of big wigs from several different companies. Each time, White was successful in getting what he wanted, including sponsorships that provided top-of-the-line boats, motors and cars.

White and the others in his show practiced their act on the Grand River between Pottawattomie and Millhouse bayous, in front of the house where White still lives with his wife, Kathy.

He recalls a time back in the late 1940s when he and several others chipped in and bought the first Mercury motor to hit the market, a 4-cylinder 25-horse engine. It was mounted on a boat that White built by hand.

“Back then, everything was new. There was hardly a motor out there that could pull anybody,” he said.

To read more of this story, see today's print edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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