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Obituaries

Warren Ragan White ’39, former director and founder of Inside SI, dies at 96

Warren White with his journalism class in the 1950s.

Warren Ragan White ’39, who taught English, created Inside SI and directed plays at SI between 1946 and 1954, died Oct. 6 at the age of 96. He also served as a longtime educator and administrator at City College of San Francisco.

After graduating from USF and spending three years in the service, he returned to SI to teach English. Three years later, he created Inside SI to replace the newspaper, The Red and Blue. Inside SI was a one-page mimeographed sheet published weekly by his students beginning in 1949 as a practical task for his Journalism class to review the past week and preview the week to come, with Bob Amsler ‘49 serving as the first editor.

Mr. White volunteered to start the newspaper “so I wouldn’t have to supervise JUG,” he said in a 2003 interview. The newspaper was able to succeed where The Red and Blue failed. It published quickly because, as an in-house publication, it did not require review by a professed Jesuit priest. “The concern was that The Red and Blue went off campus to other schools in an exchange program and its contents needed to be vetted to ensure that they reflected properly the AMDG mission of both SI and of the Order itself,” said Mr. White. “Fr. Harrington had the misfortune of having the censor duties added to his already considerable responsibilities, and he probably gave them a low priority. In any case, a Red and Blue edition might wait several weeks before it was cleared to go to print, by which time any claim to currency had vaporized.”

Students, Mr. White added “had fun putting the newspaper together and were delighted to have something current to read on Monday mornings.” The publication expanded into a four-page magazine in 1950 (“Rag to be Revamped” read the headline of the last one-pager) and continued to grow over the years.

When SI’s longtime director, James Gill, passed away in 1949, Mr. White took on the task of directing the annual play, which served as a fund-raiser for the gymnasium. That play moved from the Little Theatre at USF to the Marines Memorial Theatre on Sutter Street.

“Shortly after I had replaced Gill, Fr. Joe King came to SI with his enthusiasm for glee clubs and music of all kinds. He started organizing talent shows, and they evolved into musical productions in which I began to take a part. One was called Win Winsocki. The following year we topped it with a work we called Souther Pacific, which combined bits of Rodgers and Hart with The Caine Mutiny, Mr. Roberts, and other ideas from Fr. King, the students or myself.”

All the female roles had to be changed into male roles, as no girls were allowed in the shows. “A Jesuit seminary in the Midwest had established a cottage industry rewriting standard plays to change female roles to male ones,” Mr. White recalled.

After leaving SI, he earned his master’s degree from USF and moved to City College where he taught English and served as acting president. He took great pride in expanding the day and evening classes offered by CCSF to locations throughout the city. He was an advocate for the Art Department at CCSF and was an instrumental part of the leadership team that brought about the restoration of both the Diego Rivera Mural and the iconic Dudley Carter Ram statue on the main CCSF campus.

He is survived by his son Timothy J. White and daughter-in-law, Maria Wong White; his daughter, Noël White McLaughlin; his son-in-law, John McLaughlin; his grandsons Jack and Aidan McLaughlin; as well as many cousins, nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Loretto Roger White, his son William Roger White, his parents Sherman A. White and Gladys Ragan White, and his brothers S. Alan White ’35 and Donald K. White ’42.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his name can be made to either the Class of 1951, Warren Ragan White Scholarship Fund, c/o SI or to The ARC San Francisco. 

Posted by Mr. Paul J. Totah on Friday December 29, 2017
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