Francis W. White, Jr.

NO. 17990 . 8 Dec 1925 - 12 May 2001  

Died in Scottsdale, AZ
Inurned in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

Francis "Buddy" Wilford White, Jr, was born. in his father's hometown of Plymouth, MA, the second of five children born to Frank and Katherine Agnes White. The family moved around New England, then to Cleveland, and back to New England while Buddy was growing up. He had a particular fondness for a period spent in Northfield, VT, where he could ski to school. He graduated high school from LaSalle Academy in Providence, RI in 1944, and then entered Providence College for a year before he joined the Army during WWII. He had always wanted to go to West Point, and his father encouraged and supported Buddy’s goal. Buddy used to say that because his dad had always believed he would be successful, he finally came to believe it himself. He was eventually selected for the USMAPS program, went to Amherst College, took the exams for West Point, and joined the Class of '50.

Life during the following four years was filled with relentless studying, singing in the choir, and serving as an acolyte at Catholic services. His hockey career was cut short by a knee injury, thus confining his extracurricular interests to the camera club. Buddy’s father sent him flashlight batteries so he could cram after "lights out" on his Russian studies. He met and fell in love with Ann Gilson of Passaic, NJ, while at USMA, and they married in September 1950. Ann shared his life for 51 years, and together they raised their two children, Christine and Francis 111.

As a lieutenant in the Signal Corps, he was posted to Ft. Lewis for a short time and was then sent to Germany, assigned to Hanau and Pirmasens. An ROTC assignment at the University of Illinois followed and hatched his interest in "the business of government." Next came a tour in Korea with the Eighth Army, 304th Signal Battalion, and then two years at the Harvard Business School, acquiring an MBA degree in 1961.

Following Harvard, Buddy was assigned to Ft. Huachuca, AZ, as a contracting officer in the Electronic Proving Ground Procurement Office. There he became highly experienced in negotiating with major contractors. He considered his tour at EPG, in what was then a somewhat isolated location, a highlight in his Army career. He and Ann particularly enjoyed the picnics and other outings in the beautiful Arizona mountains and desert with three other classmates and their families, experiences that formed lifelong bonds.

Buddy was next posted to CGSC at Ft. Leavenworth, and then to the Joint Communications Agency, NATO, in Fontainebleau, France, as comptroller. There his horizons expanded to include personnel and budget responsibilities for the North Atlantic Council. He moved to the Netherlands as director of the communications operations of the JCA. During this period, he was stricken with Crohn’s disease. An operation in Orleans was successful, and he recovered fully enough to be posted to Viet Nam, commanding the 521d Signal Battalion at Can Tho during 1967-68 and receiving the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and an Air Medal.

Buddy next was posted to the office of the secretary of defense in the Pentagon, joining a study group examining reform of the military pay system and being chosen to draft the compensation section of the DOD's proposal for a volunteer military force. Following much debate in Congress, his basic plan was accepted and remained virtually unchanged for many years.

His Crohn’s disease and his and Ann’s desire to settle down prompted him to accept a disability retirement in 1972. He began a 14year career in the Civil Service, first at the General Accounting Office as an assistant director and then the more challenging posting as senior political advisor at the Office of Management and Budget. Over the next eight years,
he rose to super grade status reporting to David Stockman. While the pressure was intense, he liked the small staff and the significant impact it had. Then, in 1984, Buddy took a position as regional director in the Census Bureau in Los Angeles, supervising a staff of 55 fulltime and 300 part-time employees.

In 1986, the Harvard Business School selected him as one of ten 1961 graduates who exemplified the professional achievements of that accomplished class, profiling him in the October 1986 Bulletin. It was also the year he retired from the Civil Service and returned to Arizona for good, building a home in Scottsdale. Not content to sit around and play golf (he once made a hole-in-one on the 17th hole of the Ancala Country Club course in Scottsdale), he joined Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Phoenix, putting his analytical and planning gifts to work once again, this time as an instructor in management and accounting. These part-time duties kept him constantly learning.

His last years in Scottsdale were very pleasant. Buddy and Ann enjoyed visiting and being visited by their children, grandchildren, and friends, and their annual month in Coronado, CA, every September. Then, in spring 2001, Buddy was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died two months later.

Buddy possessed a disciplined, inquisitive mind that he put to work in a life of balanced commitments. He was a quiet and thoughtful man who appreciated the gifts of all peoples and cultures, good food, and good wine. He loved celebrations, bringing a cannon to a family Bicentennial costume party and firing it, he was a faithful Catholic and a faithful servant of our country; he was a loving and generous brother, husband, father, and friend; and no one was more ready to share a laugh at the absurdities of life. In short, he was a fine example of a West Point graduate, the embodiment of the spirit of "Duty, Honor, Country." Rest in peace, Buddy White.

-- His family and a classmate