Restaurateur Robert White Kills Himself : Gay Community Activist Once Sought L.A. City Council Seat

Times Staff Writer

Robert Lee White, a Silver Lake restaurateur, gay community activist and one-time City Council candidate, killed himself after becoming despondent over financial and personal problems, Los Angeles police said Tuesday.

White, 44, was found hanging from a rafter in the kitchen of his Frog Pond restaurant at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Northeast Division Lt. Charles Massey said. Coroner’s spokesman Bill Gold said the death was formally listed as a suicide after a medical examination Tuesday.

Robbie Utzinger, the bar manager of the Hyperion Avenue restaurant and a close friend of White’s, said White called him shortly after 3 p.m. Monday.


“He told me he was going to close the place down,” Utzinger said. “I said, ‘Bob, take it easy.’ ”

Manager Found Body

Three hours later, after unsuccessfully trying to reach White, Utzinger went to the restaurant and found the body.

Friends said White had been depressed because of the death from cancer four months ago of his business partner and long-time companion, Art Fredette.

Financial problems earlier this year forced White to drop out of the 13th District City Council race against incumbent Peggy Stevenson. White had waged an informal campaign for more than a year but pulled out of the race shortly before the April 9 municipal election. “It was just too much to handle,” Utzinger said.

Interest in the Arts

Friends said White was well known for his interest in the arts and his involvement in fund-raising efforts on behalf of gay community leaders and other political candidates.

“He simply found and identified young artists and encouraged them to come to the Frog Pond and do exhibits,” said Morris Kight, a friend of White’s.

White had worked as a business executive in Northern California before moving to Los Angeles and opening the restaurant nine years ago, friends said.

A memorial service is scheduled Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan Community Church, 1050 S. Hill St.