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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; November 21, 2005 - John T (J.T.) White, a member of the Penn State football coaching staff for 26 years, passed away here Sunday. He was 85.
White coached the defensive ends and defensive interior line during his stellar career, working with head coaches Rip Engle for 12 years (1954-65) and Joe Paterno for 14 seasons (1966-79). He served as Assistant to the Athletic Director from 1980-82 prior to retirement.
"J.T. was a great person and a great coach," stated Paterno. "Everyone loved him. When the players he coached came back, they always went to see him. He was completely loyal to Penn State and to getting the job done. He was a very unique guy. I couldn't tell J.T. to do something and then change my mind, because he was already on his way to do it. "
White joined the Penn State staff after six years at Michigan. He helped produce several All-America defensive linemen, including Dave Robinson, Bruce Clark, Matt Millen, Bruce Bannon and Randy Sidler. Clark became the first junior winner of the Lombardi Award in 1978, as White helped the Nittany Lions form a defensive unit that held eight opponents to 10 points or less, including three shutouts, en route to an epic national championship clash with Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
White was born in Wadley, Ga, but was raised in River Rouge, Mich., near Detroit. He was a prep standout in football, basketball and baseball at River Rouge High School. He matriculated to Ohio State University, where he lettered in basketball and football as a sophomore in 1942, with the Buckeyes winning the national title under Coach Paul Brown.
His collegiate career was interrupted by World War II and he served in the Army from 1943-46. During his time in the military he played football for the Fort Bragg Bombardiers. Upon his discharge, White enrolled at the University of Michigan and earned letters in 1946 and '47, playing on the Wolverines' national title team. He played in the 1948 College All-Star Game.
White earned his degree in education from Michigan in 1948 and was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers and Detroit Lions, but elected to join Bennie Oosterbaan's UM coaching staff. He earned his master's in education while serving as an assistant coach from 1948-53 before joining the Penn State staff.
In 1944, White married the former Verna McQueen, who preceded him in death. They had one son, Brian, who is dentist in State College. White had two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Visitation will be held Monday, Nov. 28, from 6-8 p.m. at Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton Street, in State College. A memorial service will be held Tuesday, Nov.29 at 10 a.m. at Koch Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of White can be sent to: The Second Mile, 1402 S. Atherton Street, State College, PA 16801.