Hattie Robinson White (nominated by her daughter-in-law, Kethlyn White), is one of three Granfluencers crowned 3rd place winner of our Do It For the Gram contest.
The name Hattie Robinson White is synonymous with the word “family.”
Although Ms. White was born the youngest in a large family, she took her place as its heart, always keeping everyone together and connected throughout the years. She put her heart and soul into building an early education school for the children in her community and continues to pour her love into her five grandchildren as the matriarch of the family.
On Saturday mornings, Hattie Robinson White usually takes a walk on the causeway by her family’s home after breakfast. She often takes in the beautiful Florida scenery that surrounds her, giving her a sense of peace and calm steeped in gratitude.
“Saturday mornings for me are a time to be free, to be in a different space from my regular neighborhood walk,” said Hattie.
“I am just free to think, sometimes just to sing to myself, especially songs that are close to my heart and helped me get through the dark days of the pandemic. The older I get, the more grateful I am.”
These Saturday walks, like so many others, offer Hattie the time to reflect on the many lessons life has offered during her journey, with family at the heart of it all.
Hattie is a native of Houston, Texas. Her mother Emily and father Rudolph raised a large family of which Hattie was the youngest sibling. After losing her father at a young age, she began to take her place as the rock of the family, keeping everyone connected across many miles.
From heartfelt letters, to birthday cards, picture sharing, and milestone celebrations...
Hattie is at the center of it all as a sort of family historian and a link between generations.
“Family is just such a strong connection for me because I feel like I have such a huge legacy,” said Hattie. “You knew you were loved. You had people in your corner. You had a support team. You can have all these other things but you have to have the unconditional love of family.”
Growing up in a segregated Houston meant that family was one of the greatest resources to have as a sense of community and respite from the outside world.
“One of the things I’ve always liked to do is read,” said Hattie. “Reading was always a part of my life. At that time in the 60s we were still in segregated schools and on Saturdays me and my friends would meet in downtown Houston at the library and read.”
The family’s house was called “the Big House” and there were always people over. Her mother Emily would always throw together different recipes while keeping cooking, church and socialization at the center of their everyday lives.
“I just had such a great experience with my mom,” said Hattie. “She took her motherly role very seriously. My mom would throw things together and it would just work. We didn’t have a lot but we didn't lack anything either.”
It was her strong sense of family and her love of education that led Hattie to be the first to graduate from college and also go on to earn a master’s degree. She later launched her own early education school called “His Place” in her community that didn’t have access to traditional early education programming.
“I always wanted to be a teacher,” said Hattie. “I always felt that I had absolutely some of the best teachers in the world throughout my education — teachers who loved me and loved their work and willed me to succeed. Because of their impact on my life, I chose an educational career that started in 1968 and has spanned over 60 years.”
As both founder and executive director of “His Place,” she put her heart and soul into building a longstanding educational home for the children of her community. Throughout her career, she also served as a public school teacher and as an adjunct professor. Although she is retired now, she still feels the calling of a teacher in her heart, even today.
“I truly believe that every moment is a teachable moment,”
As a mother to her two sons Adrian and John Gaston, and a grandmother to her five grandchildren, Hattie uses her love of family and teaching to make the most out of every moment they get to spend together, even when they’re apart.
“Christmas of 1998, my oldest son Adrian gave me the book, ‘Sacred Bond: Black Men and Their Mothers’ by Keith Michael Brown as a gift from him and his brother, John Gaston,” said Hattie. “That’s what I feel I have with my sons — a sacred bond. I am thankful for the gift of them and proud of the sons they are and their love and commitment to their wives and children.”
Hattie now shares all of her family traditions under the same roof with John Gaston, daughter-in-law Kethlyn, and her grandchildren Cannon, Gaston, and Noel.
“Cannon is six-years-old, and is in charge,” said Hattie. “She is an organizer and a leader and when she says she has an idea it’s usually a good one. Gaston is a charmer. He gets you with compliments. Noel is feisty and loves to dance. They are two peas in a pod and very close to each other.
Hattie’s oldest son, Adrian is a decorated public finance attorney and lives in Houston with his wife Erin and their two sons AJ, 13, and Evan, 10 who absolutely love sports.
John Gaston is a writer, poet, entrepreneur, and investor. In 2003, he was appointed as the New Mexico Military Institute’s first African-American Regimental Commander in the school’s 113 year history.
“She just has a natural ability to connect everyone and be a place of consistent love."
“It takes an abundance of love to do that. She’s able to keep our family and extended family together. It's extremely inspiring to lead with love always,” said Kethlyn.
It was Hattie who found the “Do It For the Gram” contest.
“My mother-in-law is all into picture-sharing and she found an Aura frame she loved last Christmas,” said Kethlyn. “She’s been staying in touch with technology and got an email from Aura about the contest and was immediately interested.”
Kethlyn thought “Do It For the Gram” was a perfect match for Hattie and nominated her for the simple fact that she epitomized Aura’s commitment to keeping people and their loved ones connected.
“I love a good contest,” said Hattie.
She had already sent her first Aura frame to her eldest son Adrian last Christmas and looks forward to using her prize of six Carver frames to send to her family across the country to make picture-sharing even easier.
“I try to remember everyone’s birthday, either with a card or a picture,” said Hattie. “And of course now, my grandchildren have caught the fever. In October, they asked whose birthday was this year and they wanted a birthday celebration.
Hattie finds a way to teach and prepare meals for all members of the house, taking special care to cook all of her father’s favorite foods and pass down traditions to her grandchildren or “Fabulous 5” as she calls them.
Being under the same roof as Cannon, Gaston, and Noel, allows her the time to be hands-on with homework and projects, and share important lessons about family and legacy. The Fabulous 5 also takes great pride in planning their annual pajama-themed Christmas photoshoots.
Seeing her son John Gaston as a father now has also been a special experience.
“My son is such a softie,” said Hattie. “He loves to see the kids be free. I’m very orderly, so when he’s down there with the kids, he gives the kids a lot of freedom.”
Even with that freedom comes lots of laughter and memories that Hattie is making with her family every day. She is dedicated to raising a village that supports, loves, and nurtures the next generation, as well as instilling all of her children and grandchildren with independence and a passion for learning.
“I love being a mother to my sons, who I think are the two most awesome men on the earth,” said Hattie. “They all make me laugh and they keep me young. They’re just a blessing to me so with being a mother and grandmother, I just hope that I am to them what they are to me.”
Ever the organizer, Hattie is already planning on the next family get-together once things become safer for gatherings. She is looking forward to her sisters coming to visit after not seeing them for over a year, so she may have some extra company on the causeway soon.
“My mom lived to be 95 years old and we always got together on her birthday to celebrate and just to remember her,” said Hattie. “My mom and dad only finished 3rd or 5th grade but they were very wise. They lived their lives and I see that same wisdom in my sons. When you look back on the people in your life, it’s amazing to see how much they are still with us today.”
As our 3rd place winner, Hattie will receive six Carver frames for the family.
Learn more about our “Do It For the Gram” contest winners here.