In Memoriam: White, Sandra

In Memoriam: White, Sandra


Sandra White, benefactor and long-time friend of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), died on March 19, 2024, at the age of 87. White worked with ASM to establish the ASM D.C. White Award for Interdisciplinary Research, in memory of her deceased husband, David C. White, a scientist and educator known for his interdisciplinary scientific approach and for being a dedicated and inspiring mentor.

White maintained ties with ASM throughout her lifetime. Her son, Christopher White notes, “She loved ASM and had many friends within the organization. We found many reminders of previous ASM meetings as we processed the things she kept close to her. She loved being a part of the ASM community.”    

White was born April 1, 1936, to David Roy Shoults and Orpha Shoults (nee Fabian Orpha Markle) in Schenectady, New York. She attended the Pennsylvania College for Women—now the University of Pennsylvania—where she excelled academically, being named outstanding freshman, as well as being invited to join Phi Beta Kappa. She joined Kappa Kappa Gamma and remained active throughout her life. She met her future husband, David C. White, when she was a sophomore, and they married when she was a junior. She graduated and then pursued graduate-level work, while also devoting herself to raising her family.

White earned 3 master’s degrees: the first in statistics from Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, the second in genetics and evolutionary biology from Columbia University and the third in accounting from Florida State University. She passed her CPA exams, earning an Elijah Watt Sells Award for achieving one of the top 100 scores in the country. Following receipt of her CPA, White taught undergraduate accounting as an adjunct professor at Florida State University, and after her family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, she worked on a project at the University of Tennessee to modernize its internal accounting process. She supported 2 of her children in establishing companies by writing policies, doing the accounting and winning government grants for the companies. She prepared tax returns for her many friends and relatives all over the country well into her 70’s.

Over the course of the couple’s 50 years together, they hosted a multitude of scientists and their families from all over the world, often with very little notice. White was extremely active in all facets of her life—family, career, community—and she maintained that active lifestyle up to the end of her life. A lifelong runner, White competed in her last 10K at age 82 with a time of 1 hour and 3 seconds. When she could no longer run, she would often be seen walking all over town in her signature orange hat.

White is survived by her 3 children, Winifred White of Oak Park, Illinois and her husband Paul Ford; Christopher White and his wife Tamara Zemlo of Bethesda, Maryland; and Andrew White of Cary, North Carolina. She is also survived by her 10 grandchildren and her many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews and her sister-in-law Marion Lardner, of Rock Island, Illinois. 

Excerpted from an obituary provided by:
Christopher White, Ph.D., MBA

The full obituary is available on the Peterson-Bassi Chapels Chicago, IL website.