The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

February 2, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: White earns WVU’s top honor

MORGANTOWN — Pete White has remained close to West Virginia University since his freshman year of 1951-52.

Basketball and track-and-field were his two sports. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Clendenin native turned down scholarship offers from other major colleges to accept one from WVU.

“I decided that since I grew up in West Virginia, I should stay in the state,” he explained recently. “I most certainly have no regrets.”

Neither does WVU. He was an excellent athlete, played with All-Americans Mark Workman and Hot Rod Hundley, among others, and still remains supportive of his and his wife Jo’s alma mater.

The well-known Charleston couple were college sweethearts. They have been married for 57 years. She taught school, and he has been selling insurance for 16 years.

White, who turns 80 in March, served 42 years on the WVU Foundation Board. His prized possession is membership in the Order of Vandalia.

That happens to be the highest honor WVU can give a person.

White also was a captain of the 1954-55 basketball team, the first of the late Fred Schaus’ six years as head coach.

Pete had to play one year on a freshman team, as required by the NCAA. Then he played two years under the late Robert N. “Red” Brown and in 1954-55, a final year under Schaus.

He played in 70 varsity games, scored 746 points (10.7 average per game), and amassed 561 rebounds.

White also had 73 assists.

“Fred Schaus was a super guy to play for,” he recalled. “He was more like a big brother to us on the team. He wasn’t much older than we were then.”

Schaus’ widow, Barbara, attended a reunion of 60 former WVU basketball players, and White had the honor of escorting her for a halftime salute on Jan. 12.

Pete and Jo, who have been married 57 years, received their WVU degrees in the spring of 1955.

But he was in the ROTC and that meant eventual active military service for Pete after he got his degree. Jo was selected as Queen of the Military Ball.

White’s father, Fred, played football, basketball and track at WVU. He died in 1980. He had transferred to Carnegie Tech after two years in Morgantown.

“My father was a total athlete,” Pete said. “My sister, Betsy, played basketball, too. She is deceased.”

Daughter Anne White, who is 51 and lives in Los Angeles, is a retired professional tennis player. She attended Southern Cal, where she was a two-time All-American in tennis.

Son Brad White currently lives in Charleston and is associated with his father in this 55-year-old insurance business. He is 47.

Before going on U.S. Air Force duty, Pete got a master’s degree to go with his bachelor’s degree. He was commissioned as a first lieutenant.

White believes his daughter should be in the West Virginia Sports Writers’ Sports Hall of Fame. I certainly feel that she’s qualified.

He explained, “She won three national tennis championships in one day: singles, doubles and mixed competition. She was ranked in the world’s top 10 in doubles and the world’s top 20 in singles and also in the nation’s top 10 in doubles play.”

Anne was the first protege of legendary coach Nick Bollettieri.

Brad, who has been selling insurance for more than 16 years, is a graduate of Vanderbilt. He competed in lacrosse.

He previously worked as an aide to Sen. John Glenn of Ohio, a former astronaut.

The Whites are very proud of both children’s achievements.

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Mickey Furfari
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