Lifetime Achievement: Community awards honor Chuck White

July 2021 Posted in Uncategorized

By Brenna Wiegand

Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Chuck White.

Chuck White received the Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award at Silverton’s 50th annual First Citizens Banquet July 31.

Born and raised in northern California, White came to Silverton shortly after his 1972 graduation from Willamette University in Salem.

Looking back, Chuck has always been active in the community both as an educator and as a community volunteer. He has served on the Silverton Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for many years where he is a past president.

He is a founding member and secretary of the Silver Fox Foundation, created largely through White’s observations as the high school’s head football coach, and an active member and music minister at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. He serves as president of the Silver Falls Family YMCA Leadership Council and is a board member of the Family YMCA of Marion & Polk Counties in Salem, serving as a liaison between the two.

He also owns the White Christmas Tree Farm at his family’s property on Abiqua Creek, where they host families to pick out trees to celebrate the holiday season.

“I’ve always enjoyed doing things and being involved and I guess another characteristic of mine is that I don’t say ‘no’ very well,” White said. “I can’t say enough about [my wife] Sara’s support over the years, because it also takes a team effort at home.”

With all the attorneys and politicians, including a judge, on his mother’s side of the family, White always figured he would go to law school.

“However, by the time I finished school I decided I would rather have fun and keep coaching and working with kids,” he said. “It was the right choice.”

A four-sport athlete in high school, White played football and baseball at Willamette University.

After that, he coached football, basketball and baseball and taught social studies classes at Silverton High School for 18 years. It was there he met his wife, Sara.

“She was the art teacher downstairs; I was the social studies teacher upstairs,” he said. 

In 1990 White joined “the dark side,” going into administration and becoming Silver Falls School District’s Director of Personnel and Curriculum for the next 15 years, where he is grateful to have worked under Superintendent Craig Roessler.

“I can’t think of being in a better situation,” White said. Their skills and knowledge were a good mix and they had fruitful idea-sharing interactions, such as how to attract – and keep – topnotch teachers.

“When we were hiring, the No. 1 thing we looked for in someone was whether they liked kids,” White said. “We also wanted to find teachers that were not necessarily clones of one another; we looked for different personalities in the hope that every kid could find somebody to connect with.”

White and Roessler navigated the 1996 legislature’s mandate that all 10 school districts in the Silverton area, outlying schools and town schools, be unified into one larger district under one school board.

White said that knowing so many of the families and having a mutual respect and trust between them helped with a process that could get emotional at times.

“Each school had its own community and its own center of life and real pride in their elementary school, and you didn’t want to lose that,” White said, “so we formed site councils at each school and kept their budgeting process site-based so that financially they had control over how best to spend their dollars.”

White’s most recent involvement is as a board member of Providence Benedictine Nursing Center in Mount Angel.

“They play such an important role in our community, but they aren’t often recognized; people don’t even realize the type of care they provide,” he said.

With his ongoing commitment, it was no surprise when White was named Silverton First Citizen in 1996 and in the ensuing 25 years he has not veered from his path, as evidenced in this year’s nominations on his behalf.

“Chuck has given of himself to so many causes and groups for so many years,” one reads. “He is a role model of lifetime achievement and a perfect example of community involvement.”

Another: “Chuck’s consistent, ongoing dedication to our community reflects his heart for service; he’s a true ‘lifetime of achievement’ person, topped by one of the kindest hearts I know.”

White, a Realtor since 1978, has been active in the Realtors Association at both the regional and state levels and in 2005 joined Silverton Realty as a managing broker. A couple years ago he decided to step back and give others a turn.

“We have so many younger, capable people and it’s important to give that next generation the types of opportunities you got at their age,” White said. “They need to be able to fulfill their goals and expectations and we need to be there to answer questions and be a sounding board.

“As you go through your life, you need to recognize that there is a time when you need to pass the baton before you get outside the lane,” White said. “From an ego standpoint you like to think you’re going to perform and produce at the same level throughout all the years but realistically we do slow down and may not process quite as quickly.

“Maybe it’s from my athletic experiences, but my thought has always been to go out when you’re on top of the game and not wait until those skills diminish,” he said. “There’s also the possibility at that point that people start pushing you out, and you don’t want that to be the case.” 

White likes the way his life has gone thus far and is starting to look forward to the days when farm chores are his main occupation.

“Eventually I can see myself going out to the ‘man shed,’ as Sara calls it; going out to work on my trees and being more than happy just accomplishing the tasks I set out for the day.

“At this point all I can say is that I’ve been blessed,” White said. “I’ve got a great wife and four wonderful kids with nine grandkids. I think it’s so important that you spend the time you need to with your kids as they’re growing up and it has been rewarding to see them doing the same thing with their kids and just how well they’ve done and continue to
do overall.”

The little farm on the Abiqua was a good place to raise kids and now for grandkids to visit. They still like to run around through the rows of trees playing tag or hide and seek.

“Sara and I are blessed to have our little piece of heaven here,” he said. “Sara loves to work in the yard and my world is out there in the trees.”

Judy Schmidt’s name was attached to the Lifetime Achievement Award after her sudden death in 2014. Another beacon of community involvement, Schmidt’s contributions remain evident in many ways, including the skate park, a pet project of hers during her time on Silverton City Council.

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