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Distinguished Maxwell alum John P. White dies at 80

September 6, 2017 | Bart Barnes, The Washington Post

John WhiteJohn P. White '64 MA (Econ)/'69 PhD (Econ), deputy secretary of defense in the Clinton administration who also had served during the Carter presidency as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and as assistant secretary of defense for manpower, reserve affairs and logistics, died Sept. 3 at an assisted living center in Great Falls, Va. He was 80.

The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, said a son, Tim White.

In a career that spanned a half-century, Dr. White held high-echelon positions in government and the private sector and faculty positions at Harvard University. From 1998 to 2012, he was the Robert and Renée Belfer Lecturer at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

John Patrick White was born in Syracuse, N.Y., on Feb. 27, 1937. He graduated from Cornell University in 1959 and then went to Syracuse University, where he received a master’s degree in economics and public administration in 1964 and a doctorate in labor economics in 1969. He served as a Marine Corps officer from 1959 to 1961.

In the 1960s and ’70s, he was a vice president at the Rand Corp. think tank, where his specialties included the elimination of a draft-based U.S. military and its changeover to a volunteer armed forces. 

Dr. White was chairman and chief executive of Interactive Systems Corp. from 1981 to 1988. Following the corporation’s sale to Eastman Kodak in 1988, he was a vice president of Kodak until 1992. In 1992, he drew up an economic plan for independent presidential candidate Ross Perot. Later Dr. White was an adviser to the Clinton campaign. In 2008, Dr. White was an adviser to the Obama transition team on the organization of the Defense Department.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Elizabeth Michaud White of Great Falls; four children, Timothy White of Los Angeles, John Martin White of Oakland, Calif., Ann Marie Molyneaux of San Francisco and Patricia Welch of Chantilly