Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, White received a B.S. in landscape architecture from Pennsylvania State University in 1934. He then worked for the City of Pittsburgh as a parks manager and a member of the planning department. He served in World War II from 1943 to 1945, returning to work as an associate in the office of Houston landscape architect Ruth London from 1946 to 1947. In 1947, White became an assistant professor of landscape architecture at Texas A&M University, earning an M.L.A. from the University of Michigan in 1951. He left Texas A&M in 1958, having established his own practice, Robert F. White Associates. He subsequently partnered with Fred Klatt and, later, George Porcher (White, Klatt & Porcher) in Houston, where he worked on substantive changes to the landscape of Rice University. White returned to Texas A&M in 1962 and later became the founding head of the university’s Department of Landscape Architecture. During the 1960s, he was chief adviser to Lady Bird Johnson’s beautification campaign and consulted on the restoration of the Lyndon B. Johnson Home Site near Johnson City, Texas. He also worked on the design of the NASA Clear Lake campus (the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center) in Houston, among numerous other projects. White retired from Texas A&M in 1975. The articles and reports he authored in the 1940s and 1950s, including "Landscape Development and Natural Ventilation" (1955, Landscape Architecture magazine), revealed how plantings could increase, reduce, and otherwise alter the airflow around buildings. White became a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1967. He died in Bryan, Texas, at the age of 90.