Charles W. White, 83

Apr 6, 2020

Charles W. White, a beloved English professor for over five decades, passed away peacefully at his Marion home, on Saturday, April 4 after a long illness. He was 83.

Born in Boston, the son of the late Charles W. and Anna (Haley) White, he grew up in the Allston neighborhood, and fondly remembered his childhood in the 1940s — particularly playing with his pals at Ringer Park and spending Saturdays at the movies. He graduated from Boston Latin School in 1954 and received his BS degree in 1958 from Boston University, where he was a member of Delta Sigma Phi.

After entering the workforce, White realized the importance of pursuing a career he loved, and returned to school to study Literature.

He attended Tufts University where he received an M.A. in English and taught his first college courses. In 1967, White completed his Ph.D. in Literature at Harvard University; his dissertation, “Benjamin Franklin: A Study in Self-Mythology,” was later revised and published by Garland Press.

White was a Professor of English, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, for a record 51 years before his retirement in 2017. His courses — which spanned from large lectures surveying American Literature and film, to in-depth seminars on Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wharton, Thoreau, and Melville — were popular for his insightful interpretations, breadth of knowledge, and funny personal anecdotes. His decades-long career was underscored by his activism and passion for free speech.

Two of his favorite courses to teach were “The American Dream” and “Films of the 1940s,” both of which he created. White also founded UMD’s International Film Series, hosting students and community members for 20 years. Additionally, White was a member of the part-time faculty at Northeastern University for 35 years and taught briefly at UMass Lowell and the University of Hawaii.

In his spare time, White travelled extensively in the United States and Europe and spent many summer vacations in England. On road trips, he shunned highways and stopped to read historical markers. He enjoyed friendly neighborhood card games, New England sports teams, pub trivia, golf at Allendale Country Club, dining out, attending theater and, of course, reading — especially mysteries and historical novels.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia (Benham) White of Marion; his children, Sarah (White) Ricard and her husband, David, of Los Angeles, California Jennifer White Smith and her husband, Christian, of New Bedford, Jessica White and her husband, John Foster, of Atlanta, Georgia; Paul Barton and his wife, Nicole, of Plymouth; eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son, Alexander Charles White and his brother, Roger S. White.

Due to the current health crisis, a celebration of his life will be announced at a later date. Arrangements are by the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Wareham. To leave a message of condolence, visit: