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Raymond White


1943 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Raymond White Obituary
Raymond Leslie White PhD

1943 - 2018

Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea, From "Crossing the Bar," by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
In the month of his birth, Ray White fearlessly set sail on his final voyage. He was a beloved husband, father, friend and colleague; a vibrant soul who will be dearly missed. It was a great privilege and joy to be part of his world. Ray White has been honored throughout the world for pioneering discoveries in the realms of molecular biology, human genetics and cancer research. His gene mapping breakthroughs revolutionized human genetics, leading to the identification of cancer and other disease-causing genetic markers. This technology also became the gold standard in forensics, helping bring criminals to justice and freeing the wrongly accused. After completing a BS at the University of Oregon, Ray earned his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed post-doctoral studies at Stanford University. At the University of Utah School of Medicine, he served as Co-Chairman of the Department of Human Genetics at the Eccles Institute, Chairman of the Department of Oncological Sciences, and founding Director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, among other positions. He will always be grateful for the many years of support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute early in his career. Ray loved mentoring the many young scientists, graduate and post-doctoral students in his labs, and is remembered with enormous fondness. At UCSF Medical School, in 2002, he became Director of the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, Rudi Schmid Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Neurology.
Elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Ray was also the recipient of a great many honors and awards. Among these are the Rosenstiel Award, the General Motors Charles S. Mott Prize, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the Robert Bourgine Cancer Prize.
Ray was an accomplished instrument-rated pilot and fearless sailor. He loved fly-fishing and floating western rivers. He was a skydiver in his 20s, and white-water rapids or a short field landing in a 1946 taildragger were fine fun for him. He and his wife, the artist Joan Distin White, have had many joyful adventures over their 50 loving years of marriage. Ray cherished his friends, colleagues, students and family, and all of the priceless times spent with them. He was known for his integrity, wit, charm, intelligence, energy and sense of humor. He never hesitated to leap forward into new, exciting and (often) uncharted territory, either in science or in nature.
His family will miss him dearly. He is predeceased by his son Jon Robert White, and his parents Larry and Margorie White. He is survived by his wife Joan, his daughter Juliette Palmer White (Jon Owen), his son Jeremy Distin White (Skylin), and his daughter Anne Marie White; his grandsons William Distin Owen and Benjamin Griffin Owen; and his sisters Susan Mckenzie, Ruth Germaine and Athalia White.
Ray was a member of St. Stephens Episcopal Church and the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon, California.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Oct. 14, 2018
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