Dr. Stanley White, Living with NPH, Receives President’s Lifetime Achievement Award
World heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” With over 4,000 verified hours of community service, it’s safe to say Dr. Stanley (Stan) White has paid in full. “I’ve always been blessed to be among “givers,” said Dr. White. “Everybody in public service, and so many military personnel, teachers, church leaders, school and church music directors are a special group…the list is endless.”
An Honorably Discharged United States Air Force S/Sgt and Korean War Veteran, his commitment to service began at a young age. After returning to civilian life, he received his Professional Engineer license from Purdue University, his Engineering BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees on the GI Bill, and a North American Aviation Science-Engineering Fellowship. The 30-year University of California Adjunct Professor, aerospace engineer, and scientist for over 50 years has had an incredible career, but perhaps it is how Dr. White cares for others and gives back to the community that truly defines him. “When the great Albert Schweitzer received his Nobel Prize in 1953, he said, ‘Only those of you who have truly sought and found how to serve can ever be truly happy.’ Yes, I am truly happy. I now live in a state of service,” Dr. White said.
In 1954, Dr. White met his wife Edda in Vieques, Puerto Rico, while on duty in the Atlantic Missile Range. In 1956, they tied the knot and will soon celebrate their 67th anniversary. Over the course of their marriage, they had four children: Dianne, Stanley Jr., Paul, and John. Dianne died from lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), and their three sons died of complications from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Dr. White and Edda cared for their children for 47 years.
Despite experiencing tremendous personal loss, Dr. White’s commitment to caring for others continued to grow. “In the 1980s, I went to Mission Hospital for some routine surgical repairs and was visited by hospital volunteers who were old friends,” Dr. White recalled. “I had no inkling of their “secret life,” and I tried volunteering.” Volunteers positively impact communities nationwide and inspire those around them to take action, including Dr. White. “I opted to work as a clinical volunteer ‘on the floor’ of critical care nursing units, and my life was turned inside out. I was suddenly immersed in a community of beings who were a cross between superhumans and angels.” Not only did he serve as a clinical volunteer, but he also held the position of chairman for all volunteers working on the cardiac critical care floor of the hospital.
Dr. White’s volunteer work with Mission Hospital was just the start of his community service. He also dedicated his time as a volunteer at San Clemente High School, Veterans Affairs, Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano Catholic Church, Orange County Parent Group for Handicapped Children and Adults, and other organizations, including the Hydrocephalus Association.
Being a national lecturer and peer mentor for individuals with adult-onset hydrocephalus and their loved ones is a cause that holds a great deal of importance to him. Dr. White has had normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) since 1986, an incurable disease that went misdiagnosed for 20 years. After researching his symptoms online and in medical journals, he contacted the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and was admitted into an NPH research group. He then had a ventriculoatrial (VA) shunt placed in 2007, and his symptoms subsided. “A message that I’m passionate about getting out is that NPH should not stop you,” Dr. White said. He now dedicates much of his time to sharing his experience and advising patients recently diagnosed with NPH.
On Friday, April 28, Dr. White will be recognized for his dedication to serving others and presented with the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award honoring the most outstanding volunteers for their impact. “I’m still humbly stunned. I’m honored to be in the pantheon of such people,” Dr. White said. “I’m delighted to know that there are so many volunteers. The needs in all areas are overwhelmingly great. May our tribe increase.”
Congratulations to Dr. Stanley White for receiving the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and thank you for your lifelong commitment to serving others.