Ralph Ernest White ’42
"Painting is an undeniable and personal declaration of the gift of life." -- Ralph E. White
Ralph White was born in Minneapolis in 1921. He attended the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, graduating with the Vanderlip Prize for outstanding creative ability in the spring of 1942.
That summer, White’s work as a fireman in Montana’s Glacier National Park made a lasting impression. Years later his paintings reflected the natural splendor. In the fall of 1942, Ralph joined the Army Air Corps and flew B-24 bombers, became a test pilot and served as a flight instructor.
The chairman of the art department at the University of Texas (UT), an Air Force friend, was so impressed with White’s artwork that he invited him to teach in Austin.
After the war, White went to New York and studied at the Pratt Institute with his Vanderlip award. He joined his friend at UT, where he was an inspiring art educator for the next thirty-six years, celebrated by students for his uncommon support and exquisite sense of fairness. He retired in 1982 as professor emeritus.
White continued to paint and started a series of smaller works he called “visual essays,” offering “the movement of the free mind at play.”
At age 83, he died in 2004.