Former Governor of Texas Mark White dies aged 77

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Former governor of Texas, Mark White died at the age of 77 in Houston on Saturday, his son Andrew White told the Associated Press. The Democrat served as Texas' governor from 1983 till 1987. White was considered as an education reformer during his single-term in office for bringing some policies focusing on education. White had suffered from kidney cancer for several years.

White served as Governor of Texas from 1983 to 1987
Image: Texas State Library & Archives Commission.

White's son, Andrew paid tribute to his father and said, "He [Mark White] cared about Texas deeply [...] He realized that this wasn't about getting re-elected. This wasn't about being popular. This was about making Texas a better place." Former Texan Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby called White "one of Texas' greatest governors".

The current Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott also paid tribute to White saying, "Mark White cared deeply about Texas [...] and he devoted his life to making our state even better, particularly when it came to educating our children."

Born in 1940, White served as Texas' secretary of state and attorney general before he became the governor. He defeated then-incumbent Republican, Bill Clements to become Governor in 1983 despite Clements spending thirteen million dollars on his campaign. Four years later, Clements defeated White to become Texas' governor.

White brought few educational reforms including the "No-Pass, No-Play" policy. Per the policy, students had to maintain a minimum threshold of grades to participate in school sports and extra-curricular activities. The decision was unpopular among many and even blocked by a state-district judge. The state Supreme Court eventually approved the policy.

Defending the "No-Pass, No-Play policy" in 1987, White told the state lawmakers, "Let's be real: Anyone who can study a playbook can study a textbook. Americans didn't get to the moon on a quarterback sneak."

After losing in his re-election attempt in 1987, White returned to private law practice and also became the owner of a security company. In 1990, he ran for the office again, but lost to Ann Richards in the Democratic primary who later became the Governor.