Charles White `49 experienced plenty of nerve-wracking moments while serving on a submarine in the South Pacific in World War II, but his greatest dangers may have been faced while wearing a business suit.
After earning a business administration degree from Auburn in 1949, White worked for 20 years as an IRS agent at a time when collecting delinquent returns meant going door-to-door. Not everyone who White called upon was enthusiastic about paying what they owed.
“I picked up my share of dog bites,” said White, a Boaz, Alabama resident.
And he certainly has accumulated more than his fair share of stories.
White, who celebrated his 102nd birthday in March 2017, holds the distinction of being the oldest living Auburn business graduate. He may also be among the most colorful. After serving in World War II, White attended Auburn on the GI Bill and earned his degree when he was 34.
Until last March, however, White had only visited campus once since graduating. His family organized a surprise trip through the Auburn University Alumni Association on March 16 in anticipation of his 102nd birthday on March 19. White’s tour began with the Harbert College, where he had his photo taken with the bronze tiger statue in the Lowder Hall lobby and visited the Office of Professional and Career Development.
“It is just amazing,” White said while touring the College’s Office of Professional and Career Development. “It is overwhelming. The way the college has grown and the campus has been developed … it’s so beautiful now. Not to say it wasn’t beautiful back then, but there was a lot less of it.”
White’s red carpet experience also included stops at Samford Hall, Jordan-Hare Stadium and the Auburn Athletic Complex.
White said there’s no magic involved in his longevity other than, perhaps, avoiding angry dogs. He said the most important thing is to treat each day as a “fresh start.”
* This story originally appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of Harbert Magazine.