Robert Whiteside

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Robert King Whiteside
Born (1950-03-26)March 26, 1950
Tupelo, Mississippi
Died October 30, 2006(2006-10-30) (aged 56)
Cause of death Murder
Nationality American
Occupation Artist/craftsman
Home town Dallas, Texas

Robert Whiteside was an American born artist known for re-creations of Fabergé eggs for celebrities and dignitaries across the globe. His talents extended well beyond that of an artist; many considered him a modern renaissance man.[1][2] He was a musician, painter, chef, pilot, and a restaurant owner on his 68-acre (280,000 m2) Bed and Breakfast called the Veranda.[1] Known for his re-creations of Fabergé eggs, Robert’s art has been seen and collected around the world. Robert's works have been granted as Gifts of State from the Reagan Administration, which also held a collection.[2]

Early life[edit]

Robert Whiteside was born on March 26, 1950 in Tupelo, Mississippi but was raised primarily in Texas.[2] He moved to Dallas at age 10 and by this time, his family had already lived in 13 states. At age 13, Robert was passionate about being a musician; this led him to play several instruments including the cello, flute, oboe, saxophone, and the clarinet, which later became his major at North Texas State University.[2] After college, he pursued the study of musical instrument repair. Robert first began metal work for musical instruments at the McCord Music Company in downtown Dallas and then quickly ventured on to goldsmithing [1] He was first introduced to Fabergé eggs in 1972; in the same year he opened his first studio in Dallas.[1] He obtained machines made in mid-19th century Europe, which was most famous by Fabergé,[1] to create his eggs that have been valued from $100–50,000.[2][3] Robert had also learned and produced unique guilloche enamel, also made famous by Fabergé, which is an engraved pattern resembling moiré silk that is seen through a translucent or clear enamel.[2] Guilloche enamel was produced in the 18th century to as late as 1950 and is considered rare to be made.[2] Whiteside was also an instrument rated private pilot and a member of the Rainbow Pilots Association.[1] Another skill of Robert was in the culinary arts. He attended the Culinary Institute of New York and had also trained with his friends such as Christian Svalesen, who are chefs in Dallas, Tx. Robert founded his own restaurant that is located on the Veranda and was a chef that could rival those of Five-star restaurants.[4]

Two of the most memorable moments for Robert were going to the White House to meet President Reagan and the First lady and to also meet Audrey Hepburn.[2] Robert met Ms. Hepburn when he was chosen to create a picture frame during a UNICEF fundraiser, which housed an autographed picture of Ms. Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.[2] Much of the work produced by Whiteside was presented to and owned by the Reagan administration; other individuals include Lady Bird Johnson and several dignitaries including Queen Silvia of Sweden, Crown Princess Michiko of Japan and the wives of Chancellor Kohl of West Germany, Prime Minister Nakasone of Japan, Prime Minister Chirac of France, Prime Minister Mulroney of Canada, President Duarte of El Salvador and President Sarney of Brazil [2] (5). Another important event for Robert’s work appeared in a commercial for Lincoln Mercury. The original intent for the commercial was to have Forbes loan the Fabergé Coronation egg, however, curator Margaret Kelly, suggested that the car company contact Robert Whiteside to use one of his eggs in order to overcome expensive insurance and security needed to obtain the Fabergé Coronation egg.[2]

In 1992, Robert purchased the old Johnson farm house that was located in the western outskirt of Mt. Vernon and moved it to a 68-acre (280,000 m2) estate located off FM 21 near Hopewell Community in south-central Franklin County in the Piney Woods of East Texas.[1][2] Robert, in 1995, made a drastic change and moved his Dallas studio located on Inwood Rd. and Lovers Lane to a shop he built on the property. Robert continued to work on his art projects here.[1] He opened up the Veranda Bed, Breakfast and Restaurant in 1998 and has been operating for over 10 years.[1][4]

Robert Whiteside was an artist and humanitarian. Robert was a participant in community awareness support and services. Robert’s most recent activity for his community was in setting up a music foundation for developing, teaching and performance of music.[1] He was the appointed director of the Mt. Vernon Music board.[1] Robert, along with the founders of this venue had goals to raise money for the purpose of supporting and stimulating awareness in the community for the need of music.[1] His involvement in several community groups and activities was an inspiring attribute to his character. Robert also participated in various teaching positions from table etiquette for the competitors in the Miss Mount Vernon Scholarship Pageant to metallurgy for a group of welders.[1]

Robert, a man not only known for his talents, has shown his generosity by donating his abilities. In 1987, Robert along with Gump’s, created Faberge-inspired table settings for the Crystal Charity Ball.[2] The table setting theme created for six consisted of gilded sterling silver, royal blue guilloche enamel. All the items created for this event included: Six place card holders enhanced by a small vermeil bow and two cultured pearl feet, six pair of salt and pepper shakers accented by four cultured pearl feet, six cylindrical columned candlesticks, six napkin rings accented at each edge by a vermeil border, and for the crowning glory, a stunning Faberge inspired presentation egg mounted on Brazilian Rock crystal base. This Faberge egg was hinged with clock movement contained within the lid for display when the egg is opened.[2] Robert had also contributed to the Fighting AIDS fundraiser by designing a jacket for Design Industries Foundation, that had sold for a large amount.[5] Another display Robert opted for was at the invitation of Anita Madden of Louisville, Kentucky. Robert work was representative of the Kentucky Derby Eve Party. He described the theme of his work as “horsy”.[2]

Death[edit]

On Wednesday, November 1, 2006, Robert Whiteside at age 56, was found by his partner Warren Butler, murdered at his Veranda.[5] It was apparent that the murder occurred during a robbery the night of October 30. The convicted shooter, Mark Aaron Rains, a 21-year-old local once employed by Whiteside to help in his kitchen,[5] was quickly found and arrested in Dallas by the repeated use of Robert’s credit card at a local gas station.[6][7] He admitted three times to the crime and escaped once from jail.[6] In exchange for the release of friends who aided in his escape and in order to avoid the death sentence, Rains plead guilty on July 1, 2008. On July 8, 2008 at the Franklin County Courthouse, Rain’s was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. The second assailant Jose Chavez, was arrested days later and pleaded guilty in February, 2009.[3] A third suspect Elbis Torres, 28, also known as “Cuz” was arrested in Cockrell Hill on October 28, 2008. He entered a guilty plea on March 24, 2009.[8] Instead of a funeral, Warren and Robert’s brother Harry, decided on a simple service at the pond located on the Veranda property.[6] Warren Butler has lived at the Veranda since Robert's death, however, the business closed at the end of 2009.[7]

References[edit]

Lillie Bush-Reves. "Business man, community supporter lost in violence", "Mount Vernon Optic Herald" 2006

M.T. "Robert Whiteside: Custom Jewelery and Objects of Art", "Robert Whiteside" October 9, 1999

Casey Buechel “Friends remember Whiteside as a man with many passions”, “Daily Tribune” November 5, 2006

Faith Huffman “Mt. Vernon man avoids death penalty with plea deal”, “Sulphur Springs News Telegram Online” July 1, 2006

Paul Meyer “Slaying of Texas B&B owner Robert Whiteside unravels a private world”, "The Dallas Morning News” August 24, 2008

David Webb “Gay Artist Murdered in East Texas”, “Dallas Voice” November 9, 2006

Paul Meyer “Warren Butler at peace with the past and the future after Mount Vernon murder”, “Quick” August 26, 2008