Mass Retirees cofounder and former Association President Ralph William White, 92, peacefully passed on the morning of January 26, 2024, surrounded by members of his loving family. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 25, 1931, Ralph’s early years were spent in East Boston and Westwood, MA, where he graduated from Boston Trade High School with the Class of 1950. Following his graduation, he embarked on a remarkable journey of service to his country and community, first enlisting in the Marine Corps.

Ralph was stationed in Korea with the First Marine Division as a rifleman on patrol. On October 29, 1951, while on patrol, he encountered enemy fire and was subsequently wounded in action, defending his post. As a direct result of his courage and bravery under fire, Ralph was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Once he was safe behind the front lines, Ralph was transferred to a US Military Hospital in Japan for his lengthy recuperation.

Upon his return stateside, Ralph and his beloved wife, Geraldine “Geri,” eloped on November 4, 1952, in Kingsland, Georgia. Their love story spanned an incredible 62 years, and together they created a warm and welcoming home in Walpole, Massachusetts.

Ralph’s life was a shining example of dedication and service. After his military service, he continued to serve the public as a Corrections Officer at Boston’s Charles Street Jail and as one of the first officers at Walpole State Prison. Later, he became a state Parole Officer. His service came with sacrifices, as he survived an on-the-job shooting in Boston’s South End, an incident that nearly claimed his life.

In 1968, Ralph co-founded the Mass Retirees Association at the age of 37, alongside a group of retired state employees and teachers to ensure that public retirees would never be forgotten. With more than 52,000 members from various public employment sectors, the Association has been at the forefront of advocating for public retirees’ rights, particularly regarding pension and healthcare benefits. Ralph’s leadership as Association President until his retirement in 2013 played a pivotal role in shaping public retirement laws and policies over four decades.

One area of particular focus for Ralph was the cost-of-living adjustment or “COLA”. In fact, an early success of the Association was a change in state law to allow all retired public employees to receive a COLA. Due to Ralph’s efforts, nearly every MA public retiree has received a regular and cumulative COLA in each of the past 26 years.

Ralph was a founding board member of the Commonwealth’s Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board, serving more than 20 years. He also served as a longtime elected member of the State Retirement Board.

“Ralph White was dedicated to making the lives of others better. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Ralph throughout my 38 years of public service. There was never any question that he was 100% dedicated to helping people,” recalls Association President Frank Valeri. “I will forever be grateful to Ralph for the opportunity to walk in his footsteps as president of this great organization. Helping to carry on his legacy is the privilege of a lifetime.”

“Ralph was truly one of a kind. His passion for public service and helping people was unmatched. No one was more focused and driven by purpose than Ralph White,” said Mass Retirees CEO Shawn Duhamel. “I had the honor of working directly with Ralph for twenty years. To say he was my mentor is a vast understatement. Like many others who Ralph touched throughout his life, I can say that I would not be where I am today without Ralph White. By every definition, he was a great man who will be deeply missed.”

While Ralph worked hard to ensure the Mass Retirees had a dedicated support system, he knew the value of supporting his local community in Walpole. As a proud Marine, Ralph served as Commander of the Thomas H. Crowley American Legion, Post 104, in Walpole for several years. His love for baseball led him to coach the Legion Team and later become the head baseball coach at Walpole High School. For his outstanding coaching and years of mentoring the youth of Walpole, the sports complex at the Bird Middle School was dedicated in Ralph’s honor in 2015, ensuring that his contributions to the community would be remembered for generations to come.

Ralph was a true beacon of warmth, kindness, and generosity. His unwavering commitment to public service and helping others was unparalleled. Describing him as loving, caring, and friendly would only scratch the surface of the remarkable man he was. His presence radiated warmth, inviting conversation, and his laughter resonated as a cherished melody in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing him.

Ralph is survived by his brother, Terry White of Whitinsville, MA and the late Fred White, and leaves behind a legacy of love as the cherished father of Susan Rehrey and her husband Bill of Sharon, MA; Nancy Delaney and her husband Leo of Walpole, MA; and Lori Hastings and her husband Tim of Norton, MA and the late William “Billy” White. He was the loving grandfather of William Rehrey (deceased), Christopher Rehrey, Jill Rehrey, Benjamin Hastings, Emily Hastings, Kevin Delaney, and Joseph Delaney, and the great-grandfather of Bridget Rehrey, Liam Rehrey, Alice Rehrey, Teddy Hastings, and Callahan Hastings. Ralph’s warmth, sense of humor, and companionship also enriched the lives of many nieces, nephews, and friends, who will always remember him fondly.

Ralph White’s legacy of service, love, and camaraderie will forever resonate in the hearts of those he leaves behind. His memory will continue to inspire and uplift us as we remember the remarkable life he led.

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