Marriott Alumni Magazine

Winter 1989 Exchange

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 24 of 31

A TRIBUTE STEVEN V. WHITE Steven V. White, president of Bechtel Investments and former chairman of the Marriott School’s National Advisory Council, died of cancer December 16, 1988, at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, California. He was 60 years old and lived in Moraga, California. Last September Mr. White became president of the Oakland Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For many years he was a bishop and executive of the Church in Oakland. An engineer and official of the Atomic Energy Commission in the 1950s, Mr. White joined Bechtel in 1961 and rose to the top corporate echelons of the privately held, San Francisco-based construction and engineering company. From 1973 to 1987 he sat on the five-member executive committee that conducted the global affairs of the Bechtel Group. Mr. White left the committee last year to be president of Bechtel Investments, the investment company of the Bechtel family. Mr. White is survived by his wife, the former Georgia Alberta Thomas, two sons, two daughters, and 20 grandchildren. The following tribute was delivered at Mr. Whites funeral on December 19, 1988, by a close friend, J. David "Bud" Billeter. Mr. Billeter is also a member of the Marriott School’s National Advisory Council and was the school’s August 1987 convocation speaker. Diamonds are one of the most valuable and enduring of all gemstones. Flawless diamonds have no physical defects such as cracks, spots, blemishes, or scratches. To be perfect, a diamond must not only be free of flaws, but must also be of the right color. Cutting and polishing the rough diamond is a slow and costly process, and the way the diamond is cut and polished affects its value, because a stone that is not properly proportioned does not produce as much brilliance as a stone that is well cut. Some of the larger well-cut and polished diamonds have exceedingly great value because so few of them exist. I think I can safely say that Steve White can be compared to one of those rare diamonds that have been properly cut and polished and that command a high price. All facets of Steve's life received attention, so that the balance and brilliance would be at a maximum. Steve did well in all his business endeavors and civic service. I served with Steve on the executive board of the San Francisco Council of Boy Scouts of America. When his name was considered for service on this board, it was warmly received. He was greatly respected not only for his ability to get things done, but also for the ethical way he conducted all his endeavors. Such was and is Steve's reputation in the business and civic communities. But there were many other facets of Steve's life that made him such a prized gem. I can't think of anyone who loved to be with his wife and all the members of his family more than Steve did. He gave them top priority. Many times he would call me in the afternoon before our weekly stake presidency meeting and ask how long I thought we needed. He would then tell me that at a certain time he had a date with Georgia or he was meeting members of his family, and he would have to leave at that time. Another facet was how generous Steve and Georgia were. Many charities counted on the Whites for support. They were constantly helping individuals in need, often anonymously. Their generosity has supported numbers of missionaries, and they have also opened their home to scores of people at all times. One must also mention the substantial gift made to the Marriott School of Management at BYU, honoring Georgia. One very important facet of Steve's life was his religion. He would strive to see that he was a good example of Christ's teachings. In service as a Church leader, his only desire was to help people. As a counselor in the stake presidency, he was totally open in his suggestions, but if he was asked to do other than he had suggested, he gave 100 percent support. One could not have had a more loving, understanding, supportive counselor than I had in Steve. We were not only members of a presidency, but good friends. We were brothers in every sense of the word. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that a person's life should so reflect in his countenance and actions that other people might know that he is different and special. This facet was no better demonstrated than when Steve was in the hospital. All who attended him commented about how special Steve was, how kind and considerate. They even marveled at how he took the news of the seriousness of his illness and was ever positive and had strong faith. Steve was able to be this type of person, for he had such a good understanding of who he was, where he came from, why he was here, and where he was going after this existence. He had faith that he could be healed if the purpose for his life had not been fulfilled, or if his life's work had not been finished. On the other hand, he knew his Father in Heaven might need him and take him despite prayers and faith and desires. Steve White had so many facets to his life, and they were well balanced. He loved to learn new things; he loved music, art, theater, the classics - he was a true renaissance man, a diamond in the rough that ended up well cut and polished, rare in this world of ours. As he said five weeks ago, "If things do come to an end now, I can feel good about my life. I have traveled more than I ever dreamed. I have been more successful than I had hoped. My family is the delight of my life. The gospel of Jesus Christ is my way of life, and marvelous and rich blessings have been Georgia's and mine because of our testimony of God, his Son, and the principles of the gospel." He added, "I think I have made the world a bit better by being here, and that I have made a difference in the world." EXCHANGE 23

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Marriott Alumni Magazine - Winter 1989 Exchange