Daniel Baker College alumni are gathering “one more time” — officially at least — to honor one of their own.
Roy Eldon White will be inducted posthumously in the DBC Hall of Honor in ceremonies at 2 p.m. Saturday at Constitution Hall of the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom at HPU, the original DBC campus. The academy building served as Daniel Baker College’s main building until the college was consolidated with Howard Payne in 1953.
White was a Brownwood High School football standout and DBC All-American, and considered one of the nation’s greatest all-around athletes in the 1920s, excelling in football, baseball, track and boxing.
White was also a World War I hero who survived the sinking of the USS Alcedo after she was torpedoed by a German U-Boat, Nov. 4, 1917. The USS Alcedo has the distinction of being the first American warship to be lost in World War I, and her name has been stricken from the U.S. Navy’s record. No other Naval ship since has had the name.
The day’s celebration will begin with a luncheon beginning at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 20 in the Bullion Room of Mabee University Center at Howard Payne.
Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Lemmons will be the luncheon speaker.
Lemmons, the son of the late Joe and Carol Lemmons, has commanded the U.S. Naval Air Force Reserve while also serving as vice commander of the U.S. Naval Air Forces. On Oct. 1, he was assigned as the assistant deputy the Navy’s chief of naval operations with responsibility for integration of capabilities and resources.
A 1975 graduate of Brownwood High, Lemmons served as vice president of the student council and was an honor graduate, and played center on the Lions football team.
Stan Burnham, president of the DBC Exes said White would have been one of the first to be inducted into the DBC Hall of Honor when it was founded in 2001, but the board was unable to find family members who could accept the award. Then last year, alumni from the college, which was absorbed into Howard Payne in 1953, held what they believed would be their last homecoming. But Burnham said, when a DBC alumna found White’s family members, this year’s induction was planned.
White was a four-sport superstar at DBC, Burnham said, and he may have been the best all-around athlete ever to wear the blue and white for the Hillbillies.
White attended elementary school in Brownwood and played football for Brownwood High School while still enrolled in grade school.
While still in high school, White volunteered for service in the U.S. Navy. He was 17. Six months later USS Alcedo was sunk and White, wounded and wet along with 20 of his shipmates, spent 24 hours in icy seas clinging to their ship’s wreckage before the French navy rescued them. Approximately 20 of the ship’s company of 150 survived the ordeal.
Following his discharge from the Navy, White enrolled in the Daniel Baker Academy and immediately won the starting fullback position on the DBC varsity, a position he held throughout his three years at Daniel Baker College.
He made All-Conference (TIAA) in each of his three years at DBC and was selected as a small-college All-American in 1922 on the basis of his punting and drop kicking.
White played his last year of college football at Valparaiso University in Indiana, leading the team to a conference championship. White gained all-conference honors with his record-shattering punting and was selected as an All-American fullback.
White played fullback and defensive end for the Chicago Bears from 1924 through 1929.
The legendary Bears coach George Halas said of White, “His kind are special and come along once in a lifetime.”
In 1930, a severe knee injury brought an end to his career as a football player, and White returned to DBC as an assistant football coach and head track coach.
White served as a teacher and coach in the Texas public school system for 36 years, spending the last 22 at Edison High School in San Antonio.