News - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Remembering John White

Sep. 07, 2017

John P. White

Belfer Center Director Ash Carter shares his thoughts and memories of John White, former Harvard Kennedy School Lecturer and member of the Belfer Center's Board of Directors. White died September 3, 2017 at the age of 80.


In my early days as Belfer Center Director, it is my sad duty to report the passing of a long-time colleague, former Harvard Kennedy School Lecturer and Deputy Secretary of Defense John P. White. John had a distinguished career as both a public servant and a scholar/teacher. As Assistant Secretary of Defense, he helped the All-Volunteer Force to get launched and succeed, providing the United States the finest fighting force the world has ever known. Years later, he was Deputy Secretary of Defense, a job I know well and admired him for doing with tremendous skill. Here at Harvard Kennedy School, where he was the Robert and Renée Belfer Lecturer, I had the privilege to teach students with John and to see how much it meant to them when he and Betty hosted them in their Back Bay home – a home-away-from-home of inspiration to public service and to family values for these young people. I will miss my friend, and HKS and Belfer will miss one of their greats.

Below are details regarding his memorial services.

Memorial Mass for John Patrick White
Saturday, September 16th, 11:00 a.m.
Saint John Neumann Catholic Church
11900 Lawyers Road
Reston, VA 20191
(703) 860-8510

Luncheon Following the Mass
Dante Ristorante
1148 Walker Road
Great Falls, VA 2206
(703) 759-3131

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in John's memory be sent to:
The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (
909 North Washington Street, Suite 400

Alexandria, VA 22314

The Washington Post obituary for John White is here.

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Remembering John White.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, September 7, 2017.