Jack White, often known as Jake, was a familiar figure on the sidelines, at the scorer's table or in the press box for nearly every Garden City High School football, boys basketball and boys lacrosse game for parts of six decades, usually wearing a maroon GC hat or jacket and always a wide smile.
"There has never been a more knowledgeable person about Nassau sports than Jack White,'' said Mike Candel, a former Newsday sportswriter. "He was the absolute most reliable source I ever had. He was accurate, he had details and he was always, always willing to help.''
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White died in his Hicksville home over the weekend from what his son, Kevin White, called "a sudden cardiac event.'' He was 70.
On Saturday, he was his usual jovial, competent and obliging self, keeping the scoreboard clock for both games of a Lacrosse Day doubleheader at Garden City while also supplying a Newsday reporter with important historical and statistical data.
That's what Jake did. There was no need to search for information on Nassau sports. White, literally, wrote the book on the subject, titled "Section 8, Nassau County Sports Record Book.'' It covered events from the early 1900s until 1986, when it was published. It is said he possessed the score of every athletic event that Garden City ever played, dating to the 1930s -- in thick binders filled with plastic-protected pages.
From his sideline attire to his vocal but never obnoxious press-box rooting at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium for Garden City's football and boys lacrosse teams, White did not try to hide his emotional ties.
"He was Garden City's No. 1 fan,'' said Joe Giannotti, a close friend who shared statistical duties with White for county and Long Island football championships. "When he passed on, a big piece of Garden City passed on with him.''
White, born on Sept. 2, 1944, graduated in 1962 from Garden City, where he played varsity baseball. He graduated from C.W. Post (now LIU Post) in 1966. He worked two years for BOCES and was hired in 1968 at Garden City, where he taught social studies until he retired in 2000 and also coached softball and track. After retirement, he remained the school's statistician and historian for football and boys lacrosse. He also ran the clock and scorer's table and was the public address announcer for boys basketball.
Longtime Garden City football coach Tom Flatley said, "Every Monday morning he'd walk in with the football stats for the coaches, with a positive comment or an intelligent question. If you wanted to know something, you'd go to Jake. He can't be replaced.''
Garden City boys lacrosse coach and assistant football coach Steve Finnell, who played both sports at the school, said, "His enthusiasm and ability to see the positives in every game was amazing. Sometimes I'd be down and he'd pick me up. Jake bleeds maroon and gray.''
White's other passion was his small, close-knit family. He married early but lost his wife to cancer just after their only child, Kevin, was born. He also is survived by daughter-in-law Talia, grandsons Shea and T.J. and granddaughter Rhiannon.
"Dad was the kindest, most generous soul I've ever known,'' Kevin White said. "Anything that I've succeeded at as a father or a member of my community I learned from him. He had a lot of jobs and took on a lot of responsibility. But being Grandpa Jack was the favorite part of his life.''
The viewing will be on Sunday at Fairchild Sons Funeral Home in Garden City from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral service will be on Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Anne's Church in Garden City.