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Russell Allan White

May 26, 2024

Russell Allan White passed away peacefully on May 11, 2024, at the age of 82, in Houston, TX.

Russell, better known as Russ or Paw Paw, is survived by daughter Karen Rhoden; daughter Kristin Janger and husband Jay Janger; grandchildren Stephen Gowdy, Sarah Gowdy, Brian Janger, and Megan Janger; sisters Janice Moss and Marilyn Bishop; nieces Nikki Jackson and Anne Moss Shannon; nephews Paul Follis, Greg Follis, and Derek Follis; mother of his daughters, Barbara White; and countless other relatives, friends, and colleagues.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Paul Russell White and Betty Chastain White; sister Carolyn Follis and her husband Gene Follis; brothers-in-law Gerald Moss and Jim Bishop; niece Lisa Rippetoe; and son-in-law, Scott Rhoden.

Russ was born in Houston on July 23, 1941, and spent his early years living in LaMarque, TX where he attended LaMarque Elementary, Junior High and High School. The oldest of four children, Russ grew up in a family with three younger sisters and found his escape on the football field. In 1958, the family moved to Houston where he graduated from Spring Branch High School in 1959. There, he made lasting friendships as a member of the Spring Branch Bruins football team and the National Forensic Society Speech & Debate Team. Those who knew Russ agree the latter served him very well in life, as he was never at a loss for words.

After high school, Russ attended North Texas State University in Denton, TX, where he attempted to major in fun. He served as President of Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity and once had his picture prominently displayed on the front page of the Dallas Morning News when he and his fraternity brothers decided to push a bed carrying sorority girls from Denton to Dallas. Ultimately, he took a break from his college shenanigans and enlisted in the United States Air Force, spending time in Massachusetts and serving from 1963-1967 as an E4 Senior Airman.

Russ returned to college after his military service and graduated from NTSU with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1967. He then joined his father in what would become a decades-long career in the insurance industry, eventually becoming President of Paul R. White & Company, a well-respected and leading independent insurance adjusting agency based in Houston, TX, with history dating back to 1941.

Through his work, Russ earned industry notoriety for his expertise in product liability, aviation, professional liability, litigation support, and mediation and the expert handling of claims ranging from personal lines to complex commercial losses. He held numerous industry positions, including President of Texas Independent Insurance Adjusters Association (1971 & 1992), President of the Texas Claims Association (1979 & First Vice President-1977), and President of the Houston Claims Association (1975). He earned his Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter certification in 1975 and completed mediation certification training in 1991.

Russ also served as an instructor for Insurance Institute of America, routinely participated as a panelist at Property Loss Research Bureau conferences, and maintained active membership in other organizations, including the National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters (Regional VP), Loss Executives Association, Society of Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriters, International Institute of Loss Adjusters, and Leading International Property Adjusters.

Away from work, Russ prided himself in being an ultimate girl dad and neighborhood fun guy. When Karen and Kristin joined the neighborhood Walnut Bend Swim Team as novice swimmers, he decided that he could not sit idly by at the long, hot swim meets and signed up to volunteer as a meet official. And, Russ being Russ, he took this volunteer officiating gig very seriously.

Soon, Karen and Kristin decided to up their swim team game and joined the Dad’s Club YMCA Swim Team, and naturally Russ upped his involvement, too. He became an active team volunteer and board member, earning Dad’s Club YMCA Volunteer of the Year in 1983. As a prominent official and volunteer for Gulf Swimming, he officiated hundreds of local age group, high school, and statewide meets like Texas Age Group Swimming (TAGS).

Russ, however, didn’t stop there. He became a national figure in the world of USA Swimming, volunteering his time at collegiate, national, and international meets and serving in roles such as National Marketing Chairman, National Officials Committee Chairman, and National Insurance Committee Chairman for USA Swimming. He was nominated by USA Swimming and appointed as an official with Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) for 12+ years. During his 25+ years as a swimming volunteer, he made hundreds of dear and close friends, and in 1989, was honored by USA Swimming’s Officials Committee with the Kenneth J. Pettigrew Award for his dedication to officiating and the sport of swimming.

As an official, Russ traveled the world, working high profile meets such as the Olympic Games, World Championships, Goodwill Games, Pan American Games, US Open Championships, US Nationals, US Junior Nationals, YMCA Nationals, NCAA Championships, SEC Championships, Special Olympics World Games, and many more. Given his passion for swimming and his ability to start a great race, it’s very likely the phrase he uttered most in his life was, “Take your mark!”

The absolute highlight of Russ’s officiating days was attending the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, where he served as a meet starter, and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, where he worked as a stroke and turn judge. He often joked that he was the only person to make three Olympic swimming teams who could barely swim himself!

Beyond swimming, Russ loved to play golf with his friends, sons-in-law, and grandsons (his favorite hole was the 19th), fly airplanes, pull kids on skis and tubes behind his boat, and attend a good party, preferably with music from Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, or Jimmy Buffett. He earned a pilot’s license in 1981 and enjoyed flying his orange and white Cessna up to Horseshoe Bay, TX. He was also a founding member of the Devil’s River Mountain Men BBQ Cook Off Team at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. What the team lacked in cooking prowess was made up for by routinely winning awards for Best Color and Best Skit, or in other words, best shenanigans.

Later in life, Russ enjoyed spending time at Walden on Lake Conroe, hitting more golf balls and socializing with close friends and new ones. He absolutely adored playing the role of Paw Paw to Stephen, Sarah, Brian, and Megan. He spent countless days, evenings, and weekends going to swim meets, water polo games, dance recitals, basketball games, golf tournaments, and theatrical performances as a proud grandfather. He was thrilled to watch his grandchildren graduate from Louisiana State University, George Mason University, and Duke University and was excited for the youngest to attend the University of North Carolina School of the Arts next year.

Russ will be remembered by his family and friends as being a complete and utter character, full of dad jokes and bad jokes, and always ready for a good ‘ol time – usually with a glass of Wild Turkey and soda by his side. He was kind, generous, charming, and stubborn in the best of ways. He loved life, adventure, good people, and good times – and often closed an upbeat conversation with his famous, simple catchphrase, “Good deal.”

Family and friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life on Sunday, June 30, 2024, at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Resort on Lake Conroe in Montgomery, TX. We will gather from 1-4 pm with special remarks beginning at 2 pm. All are invited to share stories, toasts, and roasts about Russell, who will always be remembered as the life of the party. Island attire is welcomed, but not required.

Karen and Kristin would like to thank the caregivers and personnel from My Family Hospice and My Companion for the care, compassion, and dignity they showed their father over last few years.

In lieu of flowers, we invite friends wishing to honor Russ by making donations to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Educational Fund, or USA Swimming Foundation.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.

Published by Houston Chronicle on May 22, 2024.

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