The South Carolina Athletics family paid its respects to longtime administrative assistant to the athletics director Emily White on Tuesday. The 78-year-old West Columbia, S.C., native passed away last week after 50 years of assisting coaches and administrators at South Carolina, working with 10 athletics directors during her tenure. Family and friends met at The Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium following Tuesday's funeral to celebrate her life and share stories, many of them humorous, about the impression she had made on those around her.
"We will miss her, but we will always celebrate the bright light she brought us at the University of South Carolina," athletics director Ray Tanner said.
The fact that Emily was inducted into the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008, and that the Athletics Director's Suite in the Rice Athletics Center was named in her honor by a generous donor several years ago, merely hints at the great impact she had on coaches, staff and student-athletes who had the opportunity to know her.
"Emily is a beautiful person," said former athletics director Eric Hyman (2005-2012). "She was genuine. She was generous. She was my rock. She was a difference-maker in the lives of others."
"She will always be known for her silent poise and her kind demeanor," added former athletics director Mike McGee (1993-95). "She showed a great personal interest in everyone she met. Emily was more than an administrative assistant. She was my right hand on a daily basis, and my left hand at times, too."
She was special to each one of us.Former Baseball Coach Bobby Richardson
Current and former coaches, including former baseball coach Bobby Richardson (1970-1976) were also on hand.
"She really looked out for me," Richardson said. "She taught me so much.
"I was a little disappointed the other day when I heard that (former head groundskeeper) Sarge Frye was her favorite staff member," Richardson laughed as he continued. "Then I realized, that she was so special to every coach and everyone involved at the university, that everybody felt that way. She was special to each one of us."
Director of Athletics Development Jack Wilson recalled how former South Carolina football coach Paul Dietzel had given her the nickname "the Desert Rose," and how Sarge Frye planted a rose garden a short time later outside of her office at the old Roundhouse administration building. A few years ago, some of those rose bushes were moved from the Roundhouse to the Rice Athletics Center after its construction, and can be a reminder for some about Emily's pleasant place in their lives on a daily basis.