Clarence White grew up in a large family in Selma, Alabama. A great athlete, White was a four-sport letterman at Selma High School. He later played end at Alabama State and was part of a national championship team.
Mr. White arrived in Walker County in 1946 after he was hired as the head football coach and basketball coach at Walker County Training School. In thirteen years as a coach, White did not have a losing season in football and only one in basketball. He served as principal of the training school until it closed in 1969.
Then Mr. White became an administrator at Walker High School at a challenging time in the school’s history. “One of the reasons that we had such a smooth transition from segregation to integration was because of Clarence White,” said friend and fellow educator Pat Morrison. “We never really had any problems with integrations. He was a true Southern gentlemen. A class act.”
Although Mr. White retired in 1977, his passion for education never faltered. He continued to substitute teach, rarely, if ever, turning down a request to work. He remained a disciplinarian; if a kid got in trouble, Mr. White would personally deliver them to the office. Yet he remained a beloved teacher. He maintained a rapport with his students, who would smile when they discovered their substitute for the day was Mr. Clarence White.
Another of Mr. White’s passions was the game of golf. He had caddied as a young boy, but it wasn’t until late in life that his golf game began to flourish. He would frequently be found at Arrowhead Golf Course, where he would out-shoot his playing partners.
“Boys, I shot 36,” Mr. White would say with a grin, knowing he’d taken the top score. “What’d y’all shoot?” 78.
Photos courtesy of Pat Morrison
Originally published in 78 Magazine in Jan/Feb 2018