Stanford "Stan" White, a seminal figure in Saint Mary's Accounting Program and professor at the College from 1963 to 1994, passed away in Brentwood on Jan. 13 at age 91.
A methodical professor who carried elements of his military training into the classroom, the lanky and bespectacled Professor White rarely appeared on campus unless he was wearing a three-piece suit and one of his trademark bow ties. He is remembered by more than three decades of Saint Mary's students for his insistence on order, punctuality and hard work. For those who adhered to Professor White's rigorous regimen of academic discipline, the rewards were substantial as he trained many successful professional accountants.
"He was very tough and organized. He made us sit in alphabetical order," remembers Jeanne DeMatteo â€˜83, the College's controller and one of Professor White's former students. "But in upper-division classes, he really treated us with respect. It was like he said, â€˜You love accounting as much as I do.' "
Born in Monterey in 1917, Professor White's family moved to Contra Costa County in 1928, the same year Saint Mary's relocated to the county. A graduate of Pittsburg High School, Professor White attended UC Berkeley and earned a degree in public administration and military science in 1939. Called into active duty in 1940, Professor White served as a U.S. Army instructor throughout World War II.
Professor White retired with the rank of major in 1945, returning to school for a second bachelor's degree in accounting from Armstrong College. He moved to Lafayette in 1947 and opened his own accounting office, earning a reputation as a meticulous auditor and an early adapter of computers for business use.
He also immersed himself in Lafayette community life, including participation in the Chamber of Commerce and Lafayette Library. In 1959, Lafayette honored Professor White as its Man of the Year. He was especially well-known and respected in business circles.
"He joined the Rotary in 1949 and up until a year ago had a perfect attendance record," says Terry Fenton, one of Professor White's children. "He never missed a week in 58 years."
Professor White began a second career in teaching in 1955, serving as an accounting instructor at Diablo Valley College. Eight years later, he moved to Saint Mary's, which had recently started an
accounting program. Professor White poured his heart and soul into this new academic enterprise, often teaching four accounting classes a semester to build up the program. He also continued to keep current on trends in the accounting profession, earning an MBA from Golden Gate University in 1972 and working as an accountant for several businesses in Contra Costa County.
"He knew what he was doing was very conscientious," says Brother Mel Anderson, president when the College's Accounting Program started. "He was very concerned with the College, and the Accounting Program was a success because of Stan White."
Taking a final exam in accounting during Professor White's time as chair from 1974 to 1986 had something of the feel of appearing before a drill sergeant. According to Joe Lupino, Professor White's Accounting Department colleague for more than 15 years, more than 200 students in Financial Accounting would show up on the Saturday morning after classes ended. Professor White barked out roll call, handed students their tests and sent them to their assigned seats.
"Everything was very precise - timed to the second and so on," Lupino recalls. "We got along very well and we had a common objective - building the Accounting Program at the College."
Despite the formality with which he ran his classroom - students were addressed as "Mr." and "Ms." - Professor White developed a rapport with accounting majors who admired his passion for the discipline. In 1984, the College honored Professor White with its De La Salle Award, which honors commitment to professional excellence in teaching.
"He had this exterior like he's a military tough guy, but he really cared about his students," says Diana Wu, whom Professor White hired to teach in the Accounting Program in 1980. "He had a big heart and if people need help, he never refused. He might make them study harder, but he was willing to help."
After retiring from teaching in 1994, Professor White continued to work as a certified public accountant. He also maintained a strong connection to Saint Mary's as regular presence at alumni reunions.
"When I run into former students, they still ask about Professor White," Lupino says."They fondly remember the classes, even though he was very much a disciplinarian."
Planning is underway for a memorial event for Professor White on the Saint Mary's campus. He is survived by his wife, Jeanne, and four children.
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