Gavin White Jr. who served more than 30 years as a Temple coach and administrator, and was the athletic director when Hall of Fame basketball coach John Chaney was hired, died Sunday at 93.
“Gavin White Jr. was totally committed to the success of our student-athletes in every way,” Temple president Richard M. Englert said. “I had the honor of working with Gavin during his Temple career and know he ran a program that had the highest integrity at every level. Much of the success that we have today in our athletics program is built on the dedication Gavin showed during his 30 years of service. We have lost one of the most revered members of the Temple family.”
Mr. White’s final job with Temple was as athletic director from 1982 to 1986. It was during this time that Chaney was hired, before the 1982-83 season.
“He was somebody who, when I struggled mightily in my first year, would put his arms around me -- game after game like I was one of his kids,” Chaney recalled in comments released by the school. “He was a great man who loved teaching and working at Temple. He was very special and cared about the kids.”
Mr. White was a 1952 graduate of Temple who played football. He immediately went into coaching at Simon Gratz High, where he also taught. Mr. White returned to Temple in 1956 as an assistant backfield coach. He took over as the freshman coach in 1960 and guided the Owls freshman to an unbeaten season in 1966.
He also served as Temple’s head track coach from 1958-67 and directed the Owls to an 8-0 record and their first Middle Atlantic Conference Championship in 1966.
Mr. White moved into an administration role in 1966, serving as associate athletic director before becoming athletic director. Also during his time at Temple, he taught in the physical education and dance department.
“He was my hero, and having him to observe and seeing how much he loved his kids was special,” said his son Gavin White III in a phone interview. The younger White served 37 years as Temple’s men’s crew coach before retiring in 2016. He said his family has been heartened to hear so many tributes to his father upon word of his passing.
“It has been very gratifying to know so many people loved him and he helped so many people in their careers,” he said. “He was the same way at home, a great loving man.”
Mr. White is survived by his children, Gavin, David, and Barbara A. Kelleher, nine grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.
There will be viewings on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. and Friday from 10-11 a.m., with the service to follow, at the John Givnish Funeral Home, 10975 Academy Rd., Philadelphia. Internment will be at Sunset Memorial Park, 333 County Line Road, Feasterville.