ELKHART -- Maynard Earl White, a longtime resident of Elkhart, passed away peacefully on the evening of Saturday (April 28, 2007) of natural causes. He was 88.
Maynard was the son of Lawrence E. and Mattie (Philips) White of Bristol, where he was born and raised. He was a 1936 graduate of Bristol High School, where he served as Drum Major. He attended Tri-State College in Angola and graduated from the University of Omaha in Nebraska in 1959. He went on to study international affairs as a graduate student at George Washington University and graduated in 1961 from the National War College in Washington, D.C.
In 1941, after completing flight training with the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadets, he married Elizabeth A. Bates from Elkhart in Old Monroe, Mo. She currently survives at home after 66 wonderful years of marriage. Whenever Maynard came home on leave, he'd "buzz" the family home in Bristol with his B-25 bomber so they'd know to pick him up at the airport. During the second World War, Capt. White aerial photo-mapped the terrain onto which the Alaska-Canada (Al-Can) Highway would be constructed. He also flew missions searching for rubber trees in the Amazon Basin of South America (for rubber for the war cause), and he also mapped the supply route known as the "Hump" in Asia for flying into China. He later became commander of both of the Air Force's B-29 flight schools.
In 1946, while under Major White's command, the 46th Reconnaissance Squadron, based in Alaska, became the first operational unit of the infant Strategic Air Command (SAC). Flying modified B-29s, the unit developed revisions to the British Grid System of navigation that opened up the arctic skies to world aviation as well as enabling the Strategic Air Command to become a global deterrent military force. Missions flown by the unit's B-29s over the Soviet Union later were replaced with the U-2 surveillance aircraft.
During the 1950s, Col. White was the base commander of the American U-2 Reconnaissance Base at the Lakenheath RAF Station in England. Later, Col. White brought "Data Automotion" to the Strategic Air Command's personnel record and pay systems.
Early in the 1960s Col. White implemented the first integrated global computer network while assigned to the Pentagon, making the Air Force the first in the Department of Defense to establish an "Internet." Col. White's final assignment with the USAF was Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel at USAFE, at the Air Force Headquarters in Wiesbaden, West Germany. He was responsible for the orderly withdrawal of USAF forces from France and received the Legion of Merit Medal. In 1966, he was responsible for the assignment of colonels throughout Western Europe and North Africa as well as the assignment of spies in Eastern Europe.
Following his retirement from the Air Force, he served as the Director of Management Operations, Manned Space Flight, at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he made significant contributions to the Gemini and Apollo space programs. In 1969, after America's first lunar landing, Col. White left NASA after signing the original development contracts for a "reusable space vehicle," now known as the Space Shuttle.
During Col. White's civilian career, he became the top sales producer for Bestline Products of California, and was then promoted to Vice President of Products in England in 1971. After returning to Elkhart in 1973 to care for his in-laws, Col. White founded the REMIC Corporation, which developed patented hands-free, voice activated radio communication devices for many military and civilian applications.
Besides his wife, "Beth," Col. White is survived by a daughter, Kathryn E. (Edward) Couture of Canton, Mich.; two sons, Kenneth W. (Marcia) White of Falls Church, Va., and Richard R. (Linda) White of Elkhart; 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death are his parents; two brothers, Leland and Everett White; two sisters, Vera Giannou and Ruth Armstrong; and one son, M. Earl White, who died in infancy. Col. White and his wife traveled extensively throughout the U.S., Japan and Korea during their retirement years, and he had a lifelong passion for hunting and fishing. Two books were written about Col. White's life and careers.
Services will take place at Billings Funeral Home, 812 Baldwin St., Elkhart, where visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday, with visitation one hour prior. Burial will take place in Rice Cemetery in Elkhart following the funeral. Elkhart's DAV Chapter 19 and the USAF Funeral Honor Guard will render military graveside rites. Condolences may reach the family online by visiting www.billingsfuneralhome.com.
Memorials may be given to the USAF Aid Society or the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care of Elkhart County.