Twin Falls lost an important link to the past this summer when John “Jack” White, died at 90-years-old. White was a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor and was one of the few Pearl Harbor survivors still living in the Magic Valley.
In December 2010, White wrote a letter to the editor, scolding the Times-News for running a Pearl Harbor story on Dec. 6 and Dec. 8 but not Dec. 7.
“Shame on you for failing to acknowledge in a timely manner the start of World War II, the attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Instead you had to pick up a story on the Associated Press, publishing it on Dec. 8. What a travesty!”
Gloria Hann, White’s companion for eight years, said White felt strongly about younger generations learning about the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II.
“He didn’t feel the schools were giving it the importance it deserved,” she said. “It was a terrible war. He had many, many shipmates buried at sea.”
In 2011, the Times-News interviewed White along with another local Pearl Harbor survivor, Gale Mohlenbrink.
“There were movies made about Pearl Harbor,” White said in the 2011 interview. “But they don’t tell you anything.”
The attack was an important part in White’s life, but Hann said he didn’t let it consume him.
“He didn’t dwell on it because he had such an active mind,” she said. “He was a designer and engineer. He didn’t life in the past.”
Hann said White, a designing engineer, designed and manufactured the White Motorcycle in Hungary in the late 1960s and kept in touch with many collectors of the bike.
White also held a patent for hydrofoil propeller guards, a motorboat part that reduces sideways thrust, moves items away from the propeller and increases slow speed performance.
In 1994, White began service with the Peace Corps in Hungary, working on environmental issues.
Later in life, Hann said White raised game birds and trees on a plot of land he bought in Filer and at one point attempted to build an ultralight plane.
White attended ceremonies at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii a few times, Hann said. White described one of the visits in his 2010 letter to the editor:
“As a survivor, I returned to Pearl Harbor for a memorial service on the 65th anniversary. Wearing my Pearl Harbor survivor garb at activities in Hawaii, strangers to me, citizens of Hawaii, would stop me on the streets or talk to me on a bus, thanking me for my service; the people who thanked me were teenagers to older adults. They still remember, or more importantly, it is still taught in their schools.”