Hall of Fame: Claude Wilson “Spud” White (1929)

Hall of Fame honors are being bestowed upon “Spud” by the “O” Men for the following reasons: First, in recognition of his own personal achievements as an athlete; second, as a man who combined a career as a successful business executive with a career of unselfish devotion to training and coaching budding tracksters; and third, for his contributions in many ways and over many years to the welfare of the “O’ Men’s organization and Punahou.This article appears as originally published in the Fall 1986 issue of the Punahou Bulletin.

With a “picture-perfect” stride, Spud was a mainstay of the Punahou track team, winning letters in his sophomore, junior and senior years. His specialties were the individual sprints, particularly the 440, the half mile and one mile relay events. In the 1929 Cornell Relays he ran on both the winning one mile and medley relay teams; in the ILH Championship Meet he was a member of the winning one half mile relay team which set a new ILH record and broke the then existing Territorial record for the event.

Recognized as the strongest half mile and one mile relay squad in Punahou track history, Spud and his relay teammates were given approval by the school to participate in the annual 1929 Penn Relays, a prestigious event sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania. On their way to Pennsylvania they participated in the Kansas Relays where they placed 2nd in the half mile an 4th in the one mile events. By the time the mile relay was called the track was under water and they had to run half frozen in a thunderstorm, a novel experience. Stopping off at Utica, they trounced the Cornell freshman one mile relay team. Then, at the Pen Relays, they placed as follows: 5th-Class A mile relay; 4th-Class B mile relay and 6th-half mile relay. An excellent showing against approximately 50 of the nation’s top high school teams.

After graduating from Punahou, Spud went two years to the University of Hawaii where he starred ad won his letters as a quartermiler. He also ran on the Outrigger canoe Club’s track team. It was then 1931. Hawaii was suffering the effects of the Great Depression, and Spud had to abandon college to earn a living. It wasn’t long however before he was back at Punahou, volunteering to help coach the track squads. Recognizing his ability as a coach he was offered the position of head coach at Roosevelt (1933 – 35) and then the same position at Iolani. At both schools he turned out strong competitive squads. But Punahou was his first love and in 1946 he returned to serve the school until 1964, as a voluntary unpaid assistant, advisory and finally head coach – an 18 year period during which Punahou won eight consecutive ILH championships. Describing Spud, an associate remarked, “he had a gift of getting along well with people and an uncanny ability to motivate and get the most out of his kids.” A great tribute.

One of the founding fathers of the “O” Men’s Club and the annual Punahou Relays sponsored by the Club, Spud was always available to assist in Club activities from track meets and social events to the annual Kona Safari to gather produce for the Club’s booth at the Junior Carnival. His love for the Club and Punahou was recognized by his family which upon his death in 1982 requested that contributions in his memory be made to the Punahou “O” Men’s Club.

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