PETER WHITE, M.D.
Dr. Peter White, a professor emeritus at the former Medical College of Ohio, and one of the first physicians to join the fledgling medical school’s faculty in the late 1960’s, passed away on November 16, 2019, at Hospice of Northwest Ohio on River Road in Perrysburg. He was 89 years old.
Peter was born to Allen Hunter White and Caroline Crouter White on June 12, 1930, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He grew up in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, graduating from Haverford School in 1947. He was a 1951 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University. Peter married Polly S. Myers on June 13, 1953. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1955 and did his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in internal medicine. Peter served as chief medical resident in 1959.
Peter enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1960, serving 2 1/2 years as a medical doctor with the rank of Captain at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska. In 1962, Peter returned to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania as a Hematology Fellow and then joined the staff as an assistant professor of medicine and hematology. In August of 1969, Peter became one of the early MCO faculty members who were recruited from established institutions to create a medical school for northwest Ohio. He joined MCO one week before the start of classes for MCO’s first entering medical students as deputy chairman of the department of medicine. He also established the division of hematology.
A strong advocate for the department of medicine, Dr. White helped to develop the department’s basic research, clinical and residency training programs, as well as recruited area physicians to serve as volunteer faculty members. He also helped develop and implement the medical college’s three-year medical curriculum that was used to teach medical students in the 1970s.
He served under the administrations of every MCO president and had a huge impact on the medical school as a clinician, educator and scientist. He taught and mentored hundreds of medical students and residents; provided care to thousands of patients; published groundbreaking research, and served on numerous medical school committees.
He was chief of the medical staff of the MCO Hospital in 1975, and again in the 1990s, he provided administrative leadership for MCO’s Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program that worked to increase the number of primary care and other health practitioners in medically underserved areas.
Dr. White left MCO in 1977, after being recruited to become professor and chief of medicine at Presbyterian University in Philadelphia, but returned to MCO in 1985. He retired in 2004.
He was one of the four editors of the book, “A Community of Scholars: Recollections of the Early Years of the Medical College of Ohio,” published in 2011. He wrote the publication’s introduction, an 11- page personal perspective on the challenges MCO faced from 1969 to 1977, and also histories of two other MCO academic departments—pharmacology and neurology. He served as interim chairman of the department of neurology from 1987 to 1989.
“He was the driving force behind the book and worked unflinchingly throughout the long process of gathering and editing faculty manuscripts, fact checking, gathering and selecting photographs, writing captions for the photos and proofreading,” said James Winkler, a retired MCO administrator and one of the book’s other editors. “He was a wonderful writer, had an encyclopedic knowledge of the early days at MCO, and was a joy to work with.”
During his time at MCO, research slowly and gradually became a larger focus of the school. His research interests focused on heme, a compound found in blood cells, and his efforts advanced the understanding of blood cell biology. He served as an officer of the Ann Arbor-Detroit-East Lansing chapter of the American Federation for Clinical Research that also included Toledo, where research papers were presented.
In retirement, Dr. White continued to teach medical students in small-group teaching sessions and attended the dinner celebrating MCO’s 50th anniversary in 2014.
He was recipient of several Golden Apple teaching awards given by graduating medical students. In 2005, the department of medicine residency training program established an award in his name for scholastic excellence by resident physicians, the Peter White Award for Excellence in Scholarly Activity.
He was a recipient of the prestigious MCO Faculty Club Award 2000/2001.
In his spare time, Peter enjoyed watercolors, bird watching, fishing and spending time with his family. He was a member of Carranor Hunt and Polo Club, the Toledo Naturalists’ Association, the Toledo Artists Association, Cognoscenti Book Club and St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Perrysburg. Peter and Polly lived for 40 years in Perrysburg. They relocated to Ohio Living Swan Creek Retirement Community in 2018.
Peter is survived by his wife of 66 years, Polly S. White, as well as four children, Katharine W. and her husband, William O’Donnell, of Santa Barbara, California; Peter White Jr. M.D. and his wife, Susan, of Springfield, Illinois; Jennifer W. Cordivari and her husband, Robert, of Elverson, Pennsylvania, and Jeffrey H. White and his wife, Ginger, of Hinsdale, Illinois. Peter also is survived by 11 grandchildren, Matthew (Maggie), Emily (Owen Britton) and Caitlin O’Donnell, Allyson, Ross and Caroline White, Trevor and Braden Cordivari, and Mariel (Jake McCarter), Abby and Hunter White, as well as one great-grandchild, Taran M. O’Donnell.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 2 p.m., on Saturday, December 7, at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 871 East Boundary Street, Perrysburg. Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, 419-874-3133. Memorial contributions may be made in Peter’s name, to the University of Toledo Foundation (ut foundation.org), 4510 Dorr Street, Toledo, Ohio 43615 or to St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church (saint-timothy.net).
Condolences may be made to the family online at witzlershank.com.