HomeNewsFamily, friends remember JMCSS’ Buddy White

Family, friends remember JMCSS’ Buddy White

Tom White said he had a great childhood growing up, but it was one where education, church attendance and being a quality person were all emphasized as he and his brother and sister were growing up.

“Dad was actively involved in Browns Church, and he was always involved in teaching Sunday school and helping out wherever someone was needed,” Tom said. “And of course, he made sure we were on top of our school work and making sure education was a priority for all of us.”

Tom’s father was Buddy White, a three-decade veteran of Jackson-Madison County Schools System who served as superintendent for two years from 2012-2014. He, along with his wife Mary, were career educators with the school system.

With the exception of getting his Master’s degree at Memphis State and a year or two early in his career teaching in Crockett County, White’s entire career in education – as a student and as an educator – was spent in Madison County. He graduated high school at North Side and college at Lambuth.

“I don’t know of any time that he ever thought of leaving JMCSS or going somewhere else,” Tom White said. “This was his home. I’m standing on his back porch where he raised us, and I’m looking at the house he was raised in.

“This is where he raised his children. He loved Jackson and wanted to do what he could to make Jackson and Madison County better.”

Buddy White was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in the spring and treatment wasn’t very effective in the months following the diagnosis. White passed away peacefully at his home on Oct. 25 surrounded by family.

“In my earlier years I thought everyone had a home as happy as mine,” said White’s daughter, Elizabeth Kaufman in her eulogy. “As I aged, I realized how fortunate I was.

“Dad made sure I always felt loved and supported. He always made me feel capable of anything I set my mind to, even if it was going to be difficult. And most importantly, I always felt special to him, which is a hard task for a middle child.”

Buddy and Mary’s younger son, Patrick, told a story about what love meant in the White home growing up.

“One lesson we learned from dad was the value of loving ‘especially because,’” Patrick said at the funeral. “This is a phrase, I’ve not heard anywhere else, a unique Buddyism.

“In our house growing up, being loved especially because meant that love that wasn’t earned or conditional. Dad loved everyone, not in spite of their flaws, but because of them. It’s a lesson that has kept the three of [the Whites’ grown children] happily married for many years.”

JMCSS Deputy Superintendent Ricky Catlett was a student of White’s when he was in seventh grade and worked for him when White was Superintendent. White was the one who moved Catlett to principal at North Side in 2011.

“I love Buddy White,” Catlett said. “He was as fine a man as I’ve ever known and a great teacher.

“I went to his funeral on Sunday, and one of the stories they shared there was about one of his granddaughters was talking about him and she said, ‘He’s the best buddy a buddy can be.’ I don’t think anyone could say a statement about him that would be more true.”

Even after he retired from JMCSS nearly a decade ago, he continued to help in education as he was a consultant for local architecture firm TLM & Associates for their education projects.

 “Dad loved education and he loved being a part of it and making it happen,” Tom White said. “Buddy White loved children and he loved Jackson.

“And from the messages we’ve received since his passing, I think Jackson will miss him nearly as much as we his family will.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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