FORT LEE, VA. -- The Directorate of Public Works honored the service and accomplishments of longtime civilian leader and community stalwart Gregory E. White during a headquarters building dedication ceremony here May 22.
White was Fort Lee’s first civilian director of DPW and Logistics, an agency he had worked at for just over 30 years. Friends remembered him in his 2017 obituary as a “proactive manager and natural leader who know how to listen to his coworkers.” White coined the motto, “Creating a Better Fort Lee,” to unify the efforts of the DPW team.
An audience of roughly 125 people assembled outside the headquarters’ front entrance for the ceremony. Prominent among them were members of the White family, including his wife Juliet.
The guest speakers included Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, and a former Quartermaster General and garrison commander here. She said the building dedication was appropriate, noting White’s career work has made an impact beyond the boundaries of Fort Lee all the way to the halls of the Pentagon.
“It was Greg who taught me so many of the fundamentals I use even today in my job as the ACSIM,” said Bingham, who commanded the garrison while White was DPW director. “I smile knowing Greg will be forever remembered in this brick-and-mortar bearing his name.”
Bingham, who was reflective in her tone, said memories of White spark professional pride as well a sense of appreciation for how special he was as an individual.
“I can tell you that Greg was indeed the consummate professional – dedicated, loyal, committed, selfless, compassionate, a man of principle and great integrity. … I cannot personally think of a better person who epitomizes all that is good in a teammate, and all that is good in an Army professional.”
Also providing remarks were John G. Royster, garrison master planner; retired Col. John R. Angevine, former garrison commander; Larry F. Constantine, former DPW deputy director; and White’s daughter, Teri Mitchell.
Angevine, recalling what White did for him while serving as a leader here, said the honoree’s job encompassed all that DPW is responsible for today, and he went about his duties without publicity or promotion. He was all about the team and mission accomplishment.
“Greg was a quiet professional,” he said. “As our first civilian director of engineering, logistics and public works, he kept this installation running smoothly every day. He was responsible for supply, maintenance, transportation, all the public works, facilities and the environment here on post; and oversaw it all without any fanfare, day in and day out, 365 days a year.”
From a personal standpoint, Angevine said Greg also was a source of solace when times were difficult.
“His positive outlook on hard days – I knew I could visit Greg, Larry (Constantine) and (former DPW) Sgt. Maj. (Albert) Williams – and come away with a positive outlook, a good story and a new perspective on the day.”
In terms of his management style, Angevine said, White’s integrity did not allow him to sugarcoat the truth or share negatives when it was too late.
“One of the most important things to me as a garrison commander in having Greg was he was never afraid to share bad news early, and he came with solutions,” he recalled. “That’s a leadership value and trait that just can’t be overstated.”
White oversaw the DPW predecessors during some of the most challenging times in Fort Lee history, like its quasi-mobilization station status during the first Gulf War when over 3,000 troops descended upon the installation. He was involved in the implementation of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure plan that would dramatically change the post’s appearance. Through it all, said Angevine, White never abandoned his ethics and principles.
“He trusted and empowered his staff and didn’t micromanage, allowing them to grow and gain experience,” he remembered. “Greg always gave his people the credit for successes. … There’s no better legacy than that.”
Constantine, who had worked with White for years, changed the solemn tone of the ceremony with doses of light humor. He contrasted the honoree’s attributes with his own in a self-deprecating way, eliciting laughter from those gathered. The speaker then mused in a more serious manner about the trips he often took around the installation with his superior.
“I would always carry a notepad and pen with me since Greg would notice things during our rides that I knew he wanted us to fix,” he said. “He was proud of Fort Lee and the DPW, and he wanted it to show. He wanted us to be champions of excellence, not the caretaker of mediocrity. On one of these rides, he slowed the van almost to a stop. He said all these buildings, structures and roads mean nothing; it is the people who are our most treasured asset.”
Mitchell, who was accompanied by her husband and two kids, seemed overwhelmed by the event and said her dad would be humbled by the honor. She went on to thank all of those who spearheaded the dedication effort and coordinated the ceremony.
“On behalf of my family, we’re truly blessed and thankful we had Greg in our lives. … There are no amount of words to tell the public works team, leaders and the Fort Lee family how grateful we are for this dedication.”
Construction of the Gregory E. White building began in 2009 and was opened for business in 2010. It was the last project started under the 2005 BRAC plan.