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Doris White


Doris L. White

Supervisor of Physical Education, Emerita


1928 – 2006



Doris L. White, the first child of Mabel and Sanford Pittman White, was born on August 3, 1928 in Yuma, Arizona. At an early age she moved with her parents and her sister Marian to San Diego, California. The warm and sunny climate provided a perfect setting for someone who loved the out-of-doors and sports; and the experiences of her childhood and youth set the stage for her many years as a professional in the field of physical education.

Following graduation from San Diego High School, Doris enrolled at San Diego State College (now San Diego State University), where she majored in physical education and minored in social science. While an undergraduate she served for three years as a recreation leader for the San Diego Recreation Department. Her bachelor of arts degree was awarded in 1951. Following a year of teaching at Roosevelt Junior High School in San Diego, she journeyed several thousand miles north to join the faculty at the University of Alberta, where she remained from 1952 to 1956 as an assistant professor of physical education. During five years of teaching Doris had become what she described as “quite conscious of areas where I feel that I want more study or advanced work—a chance to continue to study and yet keep in contact with the teaching field.” The master’s degree program in physical education at the University of California, Berkeley offered an ideal setting. In the summer of 1954 she began work at Berkeley and returned in summer 1955 to continue her studies. Upon arriving back in Edmonton to begin the fall 1955 semester, she wrote to her thesis adviser about how much she had enjoyed her courses and stated: “My friends and I drove up by way of Grand Canyon, Zion Park, Salt Lake City, and Yellowstone”; travel would become one of her many constructive and educational pastimes. The following fall she would become a teaching assistant in UC Berkeley’s Department of Physical Education. Upon completion of her master’s degree she was invited to join the faculty as an assistant supervisor of physical education, a title then used on many campuses of the UC system that could lead to tenure. The subject of Doris’s thesis, “A Study of Opportunity in Physical Education Classes for the Development of Values,” reflects her own enduring ethical standards. It opens with the words: “The aspect of the moral and spiritual development of the child has been of concern to many. In our present society with its increasing emphasis on industrial and scientific progress, it becomes even more important for us to keep pace in value development.”

An outstanding teacher who was greatly admired for her knowledge, her wisdom, and her many kindnesses, she taught a variety of classes. These included Physical Education for Elementary Schools (Games) and Physical Education for Elementary Schools (Movement), which the School of Education then required of all individuals enrolled in its elementary school credential program. Both courses emphasized developmental motor activities adjusted to the ages and abilities of children. She taught Physical Education 119 (Exercise and Aging) with one of her professorial colleagues and joined with others in teaching Methods of Teaching Physical Education Activities (Physical Education 305), which was required of all graduate students who taught part-time in the department’s very large physical activities program. She also voluntarily taught a section of Physical Education 197 titled Community Projects that emphasized after school recreational activities. For 35 years she taught tennis (all levels, beginning through advanced), badminton, and other sports to thousands of Berkeley students. From 1960 to 1972 she coached the women’s tennis team and for a number of years she also coached the coeducational badminton team. On various occasions she served part-time for the School of Education as a supervisor of fifth-year physical education students enrolled in its teacher education program. In 1991 she retired.

Doris made numerous contributions to professional organizations, and her peers often referred to her quiet “sensitivity” and “thoughtfulness” in addressing complex, and sometimes trying, issues. As president of the Western Society for Physical Education of College Women she bore the major responsibility for guiding committees in developing and carrying out all the academic and professional sessions of the 1984 annual conference program. She also was vice president of the Section on Girls’ and Women’s Sports of the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance; vice president of the Section on Girls’ and Women’s Sports, Southwest District–AAHPERD; and chair of the International Relations Committee of the National Association for Physical Education in Higher Education. She was called upon to serve as a member of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing’s National Teacher Examination Content Review Panel; was a consultant to the California Department of Education’s Education and Safety Core Projects; and served as a director of the annual California Women’s Physical Education Workshop for Secondary Teachers. Her service extended to other organizations. She was president of the Berkeley chapter of Zonta International Service Club for Women, faculty advisor to the local chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, on the board of directors of the Women’s Faculty Club, and an active member of St. John’s Presbyterian Church. The Service Award from the California Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and Phi Delta Kappa’s Outstanding Service Award were among the several acknowledgments that she received.

Not only was Doris White an excellent tennis player; she was an accomplished golfer, and during her most productive years often had scores in the low 80s. She played at numerous clubs and was a member of the Sunward Golf Club and the Boundary Oaks Women’s Golf Club. She also enjoyed skiing, and with friends journeyed to Europe, Egypt, China, Australia, the Galapagos Islands, and elsewhere. Always pleasant and kind, she was an ideal traveling companion, friend, and colleague. Her interest in art was reflected in the many prints, lithographs, tapestries, statuary, and other items that filled her Berkeley home on Grizzly Peak Boulevard. An enthusiastic supporter of Cal Performances, the San Francisco Symphony, and other cultural organizations and events, for well over 30 years she regularly attended the full season of annual performances of the San Francisco Opera and frequently spent part of a summer attending performances of the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, New York, and the New York City Opera. Her love of music brought her to the Diablo Women’s Chorale, with which she sang for 13 years. Doris L. White, supervisor of physical education, emerita, passed away on July 25, 2006 following a short illness.

Roberta J. Park

Helen M. Eckert

M. Kathryn Scott