WHITE, JOHN COYLE (1924^1995) John C. White began his political career in 1950, when he was elected Texas Commissioner of Agriculture at the age of 25. He was the youngest man ever elected to a statewide office in Texas and the youngest Agricultural Commissioner in the nation. He was re-elected to that high office 12 times, 26 1/2 years, and helped Texas in its difficult transition from an agricultural to a predominately urban economy. His progressive policies and leadership abilities were recognized early by agricultural heads in other states and he served several times as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture as well as the Southern Association of Agricultural Commissioners.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter called him to Washington to serve as Deputy U. S. Secretary of Agriculture during a period of great unrest among the nation's farmers. His calm and reasoned arbitration with disaffected groups resulted in several successful changes in U. S. farm policy. Shortly afterwards, he was named Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and served with distinction, putting the committee back on a sound financial basis. His efforts also resulted in a cohesive party platform at the 1980 Democratic Convention in New York, where he was convention chairman. In later years, White was an admired and respected business and poltical consultant, whose advice was sought by Democratic and Republican leaders, alike.
White never lost his love for Texas and his rural roots. He was the son of Clay County tenant farmer, Ed White, who was honored at the State Fair in 1950 for being one of the first to pay off one of the long term loans provided by the old Farm Home Administration. With an initial start of $100 Sears Scholarship, John White worked his way through Texas Tech College in Lubbock, earning a degree in Agriculture in 1946. After graduation he became a teacher and later head of the Department of Animal Husbandry at Midwestern University, Wichita Falls. Ambitious for a political career that would help further the interests of his beloved farm roots, he ran successfully for the office of Texas Commissioner of Agriculture against a field of five opponents. He achieved an enviable record of longevity and service in every task he undertook.
White and his wife, "Nellie," were looking forward to an eventual retirement to Texas in the near future. They maintained a residence in Washington and a ranch in South Texas.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: John Richard White; "Longtime Texas politician White dies in Washington," Austin American-Statesman, January 21, 1995.