W.E. White

W. E. White: Texas’ Third State Forester (1942 – 1948)

When Eric Siecke retired in 1942 after leading TFS as state forester for twenty-four years, William “Bill” White was promoted from his position as head, TFS Fire Protection Division, to that of TFS director and third state forester of Texas. Curiously, he has been the only director in the first one-hundred years to come from a fire-related position within TFS. White, who many said resembled General Dwight D. Eisenhower, was born in Chicago on December 23, 1886, and received his bachelor’s degree in forestry from Michigan Agricultural College in 1910. Prior to joining TFS, he worked in Oregon, Washington, and Arkansas for the US Forest Service. During World War I, White served in the US Army Corps of the 20th Forestry Engineers. He returned from the War in 1919 and took a job with the USFS in Arkansas until 1923, when he transferred to Florida to work in civil engineering. On July 29, 1927, he joined TFS as a division patrolman; three years later he was promoted to chief of the TFS Forest Protection Division in Lufkin. In this position, he was the leading TFS administrator in charge of the Civilian Conservation Corps camps and enrollees in Texas. As state forester and TFS director, the oldest to date at 55, White would successfully lead the agency through the remaining years of World War II, when employees were difficult to come by and resources were limited. Not surprisingly, many TFS achievements under his command were wildfire related, including development of aircraft to detect fires, plow-equipped jeeps to fight them, and radio communication systems to make the process more efficient. He also supported the Tree Farm Program. White retired in March, 1948 to Port Richey, Florida. He passed away on May 21, 1966 at the age of 79.