WVU mourns passing of basketball standout, alum

Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 11:56 AM EST
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - A West Virginia University alum and a promising basketball prospect of the 1950s has passed away at the age of 89.

When Pete White chose WVU, that sparked a passion for his alma mater that was reflected in his lasting legacy of service.

White is remembered as a standout athlete, successful businessman and strong supporter of WVU. He served on the WVU Foundation Board of Directors for 42 years.

White passed away at the age of 89 on Thursday, Jan. 12 in Sarasota, Florida with his family by his side.

“We are incredibly grateful for the outstanding service, expertise and enthusiasm of Pete White,” WVU Foundation President and CEO Cindi Roth said. “Every time we were together, Pete offered encouraging advice and regularly shared his life and business wisdom with me, for which I am most appreciative. His leadership from the 1960s to the present helped us grow into a fundraising powerhouse prepared to meet the needs of West Virginia’s flagship land-grant institution. We couldn’t have achieved the record numbers we have in recent years without the groundwork he laid during his decades of service. He is a true Mountaineer who will be deeply missed.”

White came to WVU from Clendenin, a small town about 25 miles northeast of Charleston. He lettered for four years in both track and basketball, shooting hoops alongside the legendary “Hot Rod” Hundley. He was drafted by the NBA’s St. Louis Hawks, but he declined the invitation to fulfill his ROTC commitment to the U.S. Air Force.

White met his wife, Jo, in an English class at WVU. They married shortly after he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1955 and eventually had two children, Anne and Brad.

Following his military service, White began a career in finance and insurance with help from his adviser at WVU.

White’s extensive career experience in business, estate and charitable planning proved to be an asset during his tenure as one of the longest-serving board members in the history of the WVU Foundation. He was an active member from 1967-2009 and had been an emeritus member since 2011.

Former WVU President Neil S. Bucklew said White was held in high regard by other board members, who often sought his advice and counsel. The two became friends and enjoyed golfing together, often with former WVU Foundation President Jim Robinson.

Bucklew said he especially appreciated White’s sense of humor and positive spirit.

“When you’re around him, you can bet he’s going to have a smile on his face,” Bucklew said. “He has a warm view of the world, and that’s clothed in his own personal background as part of the University community. I think of Pete as a great family man, a very successful businessman, a warm personality and someone who had a special place in his life and heart for WVU.”

White was also involved with the WVU Alumni Association, serving in leadership roles with the Kanawha County and West Coast of Florida chapters.

White was repeatedly honored for his dedication and service to WVU. He was elected to the Order of Vandalia, the highest alumni honor at WVU, in 2001, and he received the Foundation’s Outstanding Volunteer Philanthropist Award in 2016. In recognition of his basketball career, he was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.