Photos: The amazing purse collection of Abbie White


Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

Abbie White loved collecting purses.

She had some 500 of them, many antique rarities. White, who died in 2016, was a longtime resident of Covenant Place. Besides collecting purses, White participated in many Covenant Place activities. She was a member of the Chai Notes Bell Choir and the Covenant Chorale.

On November 30, her daughter Anna Maria Lehrke hosted a display of the Abbie White purse collection at Mirowitz Center. The display, entitled “For Better or For Purse!” included many of White’s purses, handbags and pocketbooks.

A number of White’s former neighbors stopped by to see the unique pieces. They included one of Lehrke’s favorites, which her mother found at an antique mall. “She found it at a Goodwill store for $3 two weeks before we did a show,” Lehrke said. “There was more conversation and stories about this bag than any others. It became the star of the show and we had so much fun because she had just found it. When she first spotted it on the shelf, someone else was looking at it. She wasn’t the type of person to push somebody out of the way, but the other shopper stepped out of the way and she grabbed it.”

Abbie D. White

Abbie retired from St. John Medical Center in Tulsa in 1995 and kicked off her encore chapter with a move to San Antonio, where she began volunteering in hospice.  After a time back in Tulsa, Abbie moved to St. Louis on New Years Eve, 2010, becoming an integral part of her beloved community at the Covenant Place.  She was both a hoot and inspiration. She began volunteering for Pathways Community Hospice and faithfully attending the Friday Night Shabbat Services at the Covenant Place. She was active in Yoga, Tai Chi, Charlie’s Fun and Fitness, Chai Notes Bell Choir,  Covenant Corale, Mussar study group,  the“Lobby Group” and playing Tripoli with friends.

Her favorite sayings included the Serenity Prayer, remembering that God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and the five simple rules for happiness: 1. Free your heart from hatred. 2. Free your mind from worries. 3. Live simply. 4. Give more. 5. Expect less.