Lee C. White, an Omaha native who became a political adviser to two presidents and a successful Washington, D.C., lawyer, died Oct. 31.
The 90-year-old Washington resident died of pneumonia at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., said son Murray L. White of Kensington, Md.
Lee White's Nebraska roots shaped his professional and personal life.
He graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1950 and was editor-in-chief of the Nebraska Law Review his senior year. The legislative editor under White was Theodore Sorensen, who later became one of President John F. Kennedy's top White House aides.
Sorensen recommended Lee White for a job with then-Sen. Kennedy. White later became assistant special counsel to President Kennedy and special counsel to President Lyndon Johnson.
As Kennedy's civil rights adviser, White worked on the preparation of civil rights legislation during both administrations.
He began his career with the Tennessee Valley Authority and remained a legal expert in utilities throughout his life. He was a former chairman of the Federal Power Commission, predecessor to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
White never gave up his legal practice. He was counsel to the Washington firm Spiegel & McDiarmid LLP at the time of his death. He had joined the firm in 1996. He and others had started the now-disbanded Washington law firm of White, Fine & Verville in 1973.
When then-Omaha Mayor Edward Zorinsky considered running for higher office, he consulted White.
“My father was responsible, to a certain extent, to help Edward Zorinsky become a senator,” said Murray White. “My father was an old-time Washington hand” who talked Zorinsky out of running for the House of Representatives and instead aiming for the Senate.
Once elected and in Washington, Zorinsky and his wife, Cece, became friends with White and his wife, the former Dorothy Bernice Cohn of Council Bluffs. Cece Zorinsky and Lee White wed in 1989 after the deaths of their spouses. Cece Zorinsky White died in 1996.
Lee White belonged to many professional organizations and received many honors. In 1968, the NU College of Law gave him an honorary doctor of law degree.
White graduated from Omaha North High School in 1941 and attended NU on a scholarship. Army service in World War II interrupted his studies. He graduated in 1948 from NU with a degree in electrical engineering and then began law school. He was a member of Innocents and Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity at NU.
His autobiography, “Government for the People: Reflections of a White House Counsel to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson,” was published in 2008. Bill Moyers wrote the book's foreword.
Besides son Murray White, survivors include children Bruce D. White of Irvine, Calif., Rosalyn A. White of Berkeley, Calif., Sheldon R. White of Flora, Ill., Laura H. White of Bahama, N.C., Lorijeanne White of North Potomac, Md., Ann Hunter of Columbia, S.C., Donald McGuirt of Columbia and Suzy Zorinsky of Prescott, Ariz.; 10 grandchildren; and a sister, Shirley Levy of Milwaukee.
Funeral services were held Nov. 3 at Judean Memorial Gardens in Olney, Md.