By Mary Minor Davis –
2017 FATHER OF THE YEAR HONOREE
One of the things Gregory J. White found most rewarding about raising children was the opportunities it afforded him to get involved in his community.
“Having children is a great integrator,” he said. “Because we wanted our kids to be active in their community, we were able to meet great families and get involved in different activities.”
White, CFO and VP at Raytheon Missile Systems since 2012, is one of the 2017 Fathers of the Year chosen by the Father’s Day Council Tucson.
White is the father of three grown children – two sons and a daughter. Because of the nature of his position at Raytheon, White shared his parenting experiences, but asked that we keep personal details – including their names – private.
“Growing up, I was the youngest of six children,” he said. “My father was very good at leading the family through the crisis that is six children, born within the span of eight years. We were quite a rough-and-tumble group, but we had a lot of fun. He set high expectations for us. Both my parents treated us like the people they wanted us to become. I carried that through to my own children.”
This did not come without challenges, he said. Time was always a factor for him, earning a living, building a career, all while still making time for the kids. He said his boys were very different, with one always active in traditional sports – football, baseball – while the other was more into karate and other non-traditional activities. His daughter presented a third dynamic, excelling in math and science.
“They had very different orientations, so it was important to treat them as individuals and devote time to each one’s interest.”
White said one of the best opportunities for him as a father was getting to know the younger generation. “You hear a lot of opinions that the younger generation doesn’t have the same drive or desire to succeed, the commitment to community – and I don’t believe that for a moment,” he said. “Sometimes they’re a little different in how they do things, but just seeing how they think geometrically, growing up in the technology age – when you bring that to work and you see how they apply that thinking, challenging them and watching them grow and succeed, they’re pretty spectacular.”
White recalls a time when his youngest was around 2 years old and there was a computer set up at the desk at home. “He crawls up on the desk chair, grabs the mouse and clicks through to a game he wanted and I thought, ‘Oh these guys are going to be so much better than us.’ ”
Today, White is still involved with his community, but on a much different level. Serving as chair of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council board of directors and as secretary/treasurer on the Sun Corridor Inc. board of directors, he now advocates for economic development, hoping to attract and retain today’s younger workforce.
“Tucson has so many assets,” he said. “Over the last two years, we’ve seen a cascade of successes, with Caterpillar coming into the region, Home Goods – it’s good for all ships rising.”
White said being named Father of the Year is humbling. “You try your best to be a good father. As they say, it doesn’t come with an owner’s manual – and most of the credit really goes to my wife, Susan. But they’re good kids, confident. I think we’ve given them a good foundation.”