Foreword by Ron Widup, Shermco Industries
On June 9, 2021, I received this text message from Vickie White, wife of Jim White:
Jim is free and home with God. June 9, 2021 @ 4:55 AM was his appointed time.
And that was that.
Jim the fighter, the guy who would never give up, the person you could always count on to help you out and volunteer to get things done, had gone home.
And though it wasn’t a surprise to any of us, it’s the finality of that statement that hits you. I saw Jim just two days earlier and was able to say goodbye to him, and more importantly, to say goodbye from all his electrical buddies. It is in that spirit that we honor our memories of Jim, in his favorite electrical industry journal, NETA World.
Jim’s career in the electrical field expanded across many decades with a specialty in training and education. His direct impact on the electrical worker in the field is immeasurable. With a passion for the practical and a common-sense approach to understanding the hazards of electricity, Jim shared his knowledge with a unique style and dry-wit humor that was his trademark.
Who knows what the impact of Jim’s contributions are to the industry? Did he prevent significant injury or save lives because of it? My guess is he did. And did he make all of us better at what we do? Most definitely.
We could spend many hours on Jim stories, and we should continue to do that when we come together again in future conferences and meetings. One thing for sure: We are better people for having known and spent time with him. We will miss him dearly.
James Roy White was born December 12, 1951, in Washington, DC, to parents Benjamin and Katherine White. He was the middle son, born between brothers Ben Jr. and David.
Jim grew up in Cottage City, Maryland, and attended Bladensburg High School. In 1968, he began work as a journeyman electrician. This was the beginning of Jim’s auspicious career in the electrical industry.
In 1970 at the age of 19, Jim enlisted in the Air Force where he served as a jet mechanic in Korea during the Vietnam War. After a four-year stint, Jim returned home and worked as a high-voltage electrician for the U.S. government.
It was during that time he met the love of his life, Vickie Ford. They were married two years later and raised a family comprised of a daughter and two sons. Everyone knew that with Jim, family always came first.
Jim enjoyed golf, restoring old cars (mostly Corvettes), and very early morning workouts at a local gym. He was a member of the National Corvette Restorers Society for 20 years, earning Master Judge recognition for judging restored vintage Corvettes.
Jim leaves behind his beloved wife Vickie, daughter Jodie, son Jason and his wife Christina, son Justin and his wife Allison, granddaughter Kristen, and three grandsons Caden, Connor, and Anthony.
A PROLIFIC CAREER
During his career, Jim became an industry leader in electrical safe work practices and technical training. An NFPA Certified Electrical Safety Compliance Professional and a NETA Level 4 Senior Technician, Jim was NETA’s principal member and current secretary of NFPA Technical Committee NFPA 70E®, Electrical Safety in the Workplace for nearly 20 years. Louis Barrios served with Jim on the 70E Committee. “Jim White continued his commitment to our safety community until the very end. I’ll never forget one of his last presentations at the IEEE ESW, where he drove himself up to the podium in a small scooter and stood and delivered his presentation. What a fighter!”
“Jim had a special way of cutting through what can sometimes be very complex messages and getting to the practical point with a unique wit,” Barrios continues. “He was a real champion of electrical safety.”
Jim was also NETA’s principal representative on National Electrical Code® Code-Making Panel (CMP) 13 and represented NETA on ASTM International Technical Committee F18, Electrical Protective Equipment for Workers.
Jim was Shermco Industries’ principal member on NFPA Technical Committee for NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance. “He was a straight-shooting, tell-it-like-it-is guy, a true champion of electrical safety, and a friend,” says Rod West, who worked alongside Jim on the 70B Committee.
Jim also represented AWEA on ANSI/ISEA Standard 203, Secondary Single-Use Flame Resistant Protective Clothing for Use Over Primary Flame Resistant Protective Clothing. Jim was Chairman of the IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop in 2008, was Vice-Chair of the IEEE IAS/PCIC Safety Subcommittee, and was an active member on many advisory boards. Additionally, Jim authored two technical books and many articles for industry publications. He was a regular contributor to NETA World for well over two decades and was an active presenter/lecturer at NETA’s PowerTest and many other venues.
“Jim will be sorely missed within the electrical and NETA communities,” says Scott Blizard, a recent past-President of the NETA Board of Directors. “The industry lost a man who made a huge impact on the world,” adds Missy Richard, NETA Executive Director.
Daryld Ray Crow co-presented technical classes and papers with Jim over the course of many years. “I enjoyed helping Jim with the question-and-answer sessions on NFPA 70E that he led at NETA’s safety conferences,” recalls Crow. “I could always count on his help when needed. Jim was a true mentor to many people.”
Jim was well-respected in the industry, and he received much recognition and many industry awards for his technical expertise, vast industrial experience, and leadership. An IEEE Senior Member, he received the IEEE/IAS/PCIC Electrical Safety Excellence Award in 2011 and NETA’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2013.
“I had the opportunity to meet many players in the codes and standards industry over the years, but there is only one Jim White,” says colleague Jim Dollard. “He was respectful, compassionate, humble, kind, and funny as hell. In many cases, his dry sense of humor made tense meetings seem jovial. We are all better people for having known and spent time with him.”
Jim’s contributions to electrical codes and standards will live on, making workplaces safer and saving the lives of men and women who never knew him.
“While we all recognize his passion for everything he was involved in, his ongoing dedication to NFPA 70E and PowerTest — and more recently, the conversion of NFPA 70B from a recommended practice to a standard — was determined and energetic,” says Palmer Hickman. “He continued to participate at the highest level when most would have retreated and given up. Overcoming adversity and giving it his all is what we all will fondly remember of Jim.”
To watch Jim’s June 28th service, go to https://www.dropbox.com/s/pwv8mthr4itmh4b/Jim%20White%20Memorial%20%286-26-21%29.mp4.
AN OUTPOURING OF LOVE AND RESPECT FOR JIM WHITE
Generosity of spirit is the phrase that comes to mind when I think of Jim. He gave freely to all around him, educating us through his knowledge and expertise and passion for the industry. He genuinely cared about making the electrical power industry a safer place for everyone in it. — Kristen Schmidt
Jim was one of the most well-respected technical and safety professionals in the industry. He will be greatly missed. — NETA President Eric Beckman
I remember a few times when conversations were tense while debating this or that in a meeting. Jim would always retort with something from a different perspective, or he would say something completely off the wall and make us all laugh. We are safer at work because of his efforts, but more than that, we are better human beings because we knew Jim. — Kiley Taylor
Jim was a wealth of knowledge. I thought I had a lot of knowledge myself and was enjoying some good conversation with other members during a task group breakout. Jim put me back in my place with a good comment about something I said: “That sounds great, but how does it help us address this issue?” He always made you think about solving the real problems at hand. — Karl Cunningham
While others may remember Jim for his hard work, technical expertise, and industry knowledge, I will always remember Jim as a leader who faced great adversity, and despite these tremendous challenges, set an example for us all. Jim’s courage and faith are an inspiration. — Bill Mohl
Jim always impressed me as a straight-shooter and a gentleman — a person of integrity and empathy, as well of deep expertise and knowledge of his field. He could offer you a dissenting opinion and bring you to his side of seeing things without even the hint of disagreement. — Marcelo Valdes
Jim is in a new oversight role now. — Martin Nagel
Jim was the consummate professional, guru on electrical safety, and a downright great person. His loss creates an unfillable void and emptiness in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing him. — Tom Bishop
I will remember Jim for his dedication to his craft, his dedication to the NFPA community and codes and standards, and his dedication to safety — always looking out for the small guy. — Larry Ayer