Kenneth E. White, Mission CISD (Consolidated Independent School District) Superintendent Emeritus, passed away Sunday, June 8.
White is the only former Mission CISD superintendent to be appointed superintendent emeritus in the district’s history, and served the district as superintendent longer than any other individual, 23 years. The Board of Trustees appointed White superintendent emeritus upon his retirement in June 1988. That same year a new junior high school opened its doors and was given the name Kenneth White Jr. High School by the Board of Trustees.
White had 38 years of experience in education, beginning as a vocational agriculture teacher in 1950 at San Benito High School. In 1958, he became an assistant principal at that school. He came to Mission in 1959 as the principal of Mission High School. Dr. White held that position until he was promoted to the superintendent’s position in 1965.
During his tenure as the Mission superintendent, the district grew tremendously. The district went from 8 schools in 1965 to 12 campuses when he retired. During that timeframe student enrollment went from 4,000 to over 10,000. The number of staff members also increased from 200 to 1,130. 1975 brought the consolidation with the Alton school district.
White considered some of his special accomplishments while with the district to include: a substantial increase in vocational offerings, the introduction of a bilingual program, a Pre-K pilot program in 1972, Gifted and Talented program in 1978, computer-assisted instruction at elementary grades in 1978, and community education programs in 1979.
“Dr. White’s mark on education in this community is tremendous,” said Ricardo López, current Mission CISD superintendent. “You can see it in our community leaders that were educated during his time. You can see it in the schools that were built and expanded upon under his watchful eye; schools and programs that continue to grow and change to serve the children of this community. To have the love and respect of this community says a great deal about the type of man Dr. White was.”
White was born in 1927 in Oklahoma but was always quick to point out that he was raised in Raymondville, Texas, moving there when he was just six months of age.
White was not only well known as an educational leader in the Rio Grande Valley, he was also an active part in the Mission community, serving on many boards and organizations. He was selected as the Mission Man of the Year in 1962.
His retirement activities not only included continued service to many local organizations, but he also continually worked to improve conditions at an orphanage near Victoria, Tamps., Mexico.
Dr. White is survived by his wife of 64 years, Helen Baird White; two daughters, Debra (Ike) Fuller of Austin, Dee (Richard) Mullinax of Colleyville; and four grandchildren, Chamen Fuller, Caley Fuller, Kate Mullinax, and Rebecca Mullinax. Visitation will be held Thursday, June 12, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Ric Brown Family Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held Friday, June 13, at 10:00 a.m. at Palm Valley Church in Mission. Burial will follow at Valley Memorial Gardens. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Ric Brown Family Funeral Home in Mission.