From teaching to coaching, counseling to cooking, Arlen White has lived a vibrant and varied life. His wife, Delores, says it’s never a dull moment with Arlen.
They have lived at Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo for the past 10 years and even though they’re retired, they’ve found plenty of activities to keep them busy.
Their biggest commitment is to the Texas Baptist Men. They head up the local chapter and help with disaster and relief feeding all over the country. They also have a bus ministry. They started a thrift store for women coming out of abusive situations. Arlen recently started coaching the junior high boys basketball at Cornerstone School.
And to top it off, the pair is deeply devoted to their grandchildren, sometimes driving five hours each way to see them coach a high school basketball game.
A man in the kitchen
The Whites haven’t missed an opportunity to go feed people after a natural disaster in the past 10 years. After Arlen retired as county judge and the Whites moved to San Angelo, he decided to go to cooking school.
Not only do they travel to bring warm meals to people, but they cook for practically anyone who asks. They cook for kids at Vacation Bible Schools at local churches; they cook for church events; they cook about 750 hamburgers for freshman move-in day at San Angelo University; recently, they even catered a wedding at Baptist Retirement Community.
“You know, it’s true that women don’t like men in their kitchens,” Arlen said, laughing. “I got moved out to the garage.”
“I can’t stand to see the mess and everything piling up so I’ll just wash it and put it away,” Delores said.
“She’s a pain!” he said. “I lay a spoon down and I turn around and it’s gone. I say, ‘You took my stirring spoon!’”
They tease each other but it’s clear their 54-year marriage grows stronger every day.
They met in college at Howard Payne University and Delores said she knew pretty quickly that he was the one she wanted to marry after he walked her home from a school event.
“But now I’m not so sure,” she said with a wink.
‘Serious’ about coaching
Delores has supported all of Arlen’s ventures. He taught and coached high school basketball for 25 years. He also taught driver’s education courses while he coached and had his own driving school. After that, he decided to pursue a career in counseling. Once he retired, Delores didn’t want Arlen going to see their grandkids without her, so left her job as an elementary school music teacher to join him on the road.
But soon after, he was elected as the county judge. After his time in office, they moved to San Angelo. That’s when Arlen went to chef school and started cooking.
Then he started coaching basketball again. Only this time, it was for 5th and 6th graders.
“Going back into coaching started out as a joke,” Delores said. “The guys would ask him if he ever missed coaching and he said, ‘I miss it every time a ball game comes up.’ And they said, well, why don’t you go back into coaching? He said, ‘well, I never know when the jobs are open.’”
So when the job at Cornerstone opened up, his friends teased him about applying. They didn’t think he would actually do it but they didn’t know Arlen.
“He went over to the school in his shorts,” Delores said. “He was just going to pick up an application but they interviewed him right there on the spot.”
Arlen and Delores were in Louisiana with Texas Baptist Men when he got the call about a job offer.
“It’s kind of funny because they said, we’re going to need some references,” Delores said. “And he said, well, that’s going to be kind of hard. They said, well how’s that? And he said, well, none of my bosses are alive anymore. I can give you some of students.”
His students gave him glowing recommendations and he took the job. At age 78, Arlen is still in the game – and it’s not a joke.
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