Class of 2013
Henry White wore many hats during his nearly 40 years of public service to Limestone County. His first job in the Limestone County school system was as a young social studies teacher at East Limestone High School. He later served as a coach, principal, umpire and school board superintendent. After retiring from education, he served in the Alabama House of Representatives.
“People in Limestone County are special,” said White, a 2013 Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “They are very gracious in their time and effort in helping others. Hopefully, I was able to give back some of what Limestone County gave me.”
White was born near Ardmore and lived there until the fifth grade when his family moved to a farm in Tanner. It was there that White learned some life lessons that would serve him well later.
“I was one of 13 children,” he said. “It was tough growing up on a farm. We were expected and required to work hard. I think that experience instilled in me the work ethic one needs to be successful in his personal and professional life.”
As an athlete at Tanner High school, White lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track. He earned all-county honors in football, while being named to the all-area team in baseball.
“I played under Kenneth Lewter and Jackie Greenhaw at Tanner,” White said. “They were coaches who were energetic in their jobs, which carried over on how we played. We played fast with good effort.”
After high school, White enrolled at the University of North Alabama, where he earned two letters on the Lions baseball team. Upon graduation from UNA in 1971, White began his teaching career at East Limestone. His first coaching job was at Piney Chapel, where he served as the boys junior high basketball coach.
In the 1972-73 school year, White accepted a job as an assistant coach for the football, basketball and baseball teams at Tanner. The following season, he became the Rattlers’ head basketball and baseball coach. White says his team goals were simple.
“I wanted my teams to strive to reach two goals,” he said. “One was to win the county championship and two was to qualify for the state tournament.”
White’s teams often met his goals. His basketball teams won four county championships and participated in three state tournaments. His baseball teams finished fourth in the state tournament in 1977 and second the following season.
“I was blessed with some really good players at Tanner,” White said.
“They bought into what we were trying to do. They competed and worked really hard. It was a great honor to coach those young men at Tanner High School.”
One of his former basketball players, the Rev. Willie Byrd, said White was a quality coach. “Coach White was a very good coach,” Byrd said. “He was very fair and under his leadership, we rarely lost. I believe Coach White is very deserving of his induction to the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame. His record speaks for itself.”
White’s record was impressive. During his 11 years leading the Tanner basketball program, White recorded a 226-97 record. He was twice named Limestone County Coach of the Year.
Joey Malone, who played baseball and basketball for White at Tanner, said his former coach would often become animated on the sidelines.
“My junior year, we had already lost to Elkmont twice in basketball,” Malone said. “They had Terry Williams and Leon Lockett and those guys. Well, in the county tournament we beat them, and Coach White reached over and slapped me so hard on my leg that I had a perfect hand print there for two days. And there is no telling how many pair of socks Coach White went through during his coaching days. He would sit on the sidelines and just pull on his socks. But, we all respected him. He was a players coach.”
White’s younger brother Randy, a 2008 Hall of Fame inductee, said his brother has served the community well.
“Henry is five years older than me but we grew up in a family where hard work was all we knew,” he said. “He had an outstanding career as a coach but his contributions to Limestone County go beyond his success in the coaching arena. He will do anything for anybody. He is a deacon in his church. He and his wife (Marsha) have worked with charitable organizations. Henry has given his all for the community.”
Limestone County will be giving back to White on June 15, when he and 11 other former coaches and athletes will be inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame.
“I feel really blessed with this honor,” White said. “I know a lot of the people who have already been inducted. To be included with such impressive people is very humbling. Of the awards I have received in my lifetime, this one is the one I am most proud of.”