Betty Jo White, DO (’59)
Dr. Betty Jo White is the recipient of the President’s Leadership Award, the highest honor bestowed by Truman State University.
Growing up in the Ozarks of mid-Missouri, Betty Jo White knew even as a young student that she wanted to become a doctor. When her family physician learned of her passion for medicine, he made a phone call to Truman State University and helped set her career into motion.
Dr. White fondly recalls her time at Truman and especially her advisor, Dr. John D. Black. He was a professor of zoology credited as being the first pre-osteopathic advisor in the country. To this day, the “Dr. John D. Black Day Lily” grows in her yard, and she and fellow classmates from Truman exchange photos of its blooms each year.
Living in Kirksville, the birthplace of osteopathic medicine, was a wonderful experience for Dr. White. She was active in the Pre-Osteopathy Club and the Baptist Student Union. She fondly remembers attending several BSU conferences as a student and the impact of the experiences. She was also active in residence hall governance and the women’s recreation association.
After just three years, she graduated from Truman in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science degree and proceeded to the Kansas City College of Osteopathy and Surgery (now the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences or KCU) in Kansas City, Missouri.
At that time, an osteopathic female surgeon was a new concept, and Dr. White was the first female to do a residency in general surgery. This was a difficult task, as many programs simply would not interview her because of her gender. She became a resident at Bashline Memorial Hospital in Pennsylvania after 29 other applications were turned down. Following her residency, she stayed at Bashline Memorial Hospital and practiced general surgery for the remainder of her career. For many years, she was active in the hospital’s leadership, including stints as chief of staff and chair of the Department of Surgery.
Throughout her career, Dr. White has been keenly aware of the impact of those who helped along her journey and has felt compelled to support others. Dr. White began donating to the Dr. John D. Black Scholarship at Truman. For more than 45 years, she has made an annual gift to this scholarship fund in his honor.
In 2006, Dr. White established the Betty Jo White, DO Science Scholarship. Each year, recipients of her scholarship are required to visit the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville and send Dr. White a one-page paper about their experience. This requirement demonstrates her passion for educating the next generation, as well as her love and appreciation of the field of osteopathic medicine.
In 2013, remembering the impact of her experiences with the BSU, Dr. White established the Betty Jo White, DO, Baptist Student Union Endowed Stipend. The stipend supports students attending a conference or retreat held by a philanthropic organization such as the BSU.
In addition to her lifetime of gifts to Truman, Dr. White has also included Truman State University in her estate plans. Her generosity will continue to enrich the lives of students in perpetuity.
About the President’s Leadership Award
The most prestigious award bestowed by the University, the President’s Leadership Award honors Truman’s most ardent supporters who show an exceptional commitment to the University through gifts of volunteerism, expertise, and financial resources. The awards are presented at the annual Truman State University Foundation Banquet held on campus each spring.
Recipients of the President’s Leadership Award
Betty Jo White, DO (’59)
Sharron (Bailey) Quisenberry (’66) and the late Larry Quisenberry (’66, ’75)
Mike McClaskey (’85) and Janet (Yearns) McClaskey (’84)
Grace Hortense Greenley (’40, ’56)
Geraldine (Toth) Ready (’70)
John Bartling (’63)
John and Jackie Settlage
Randa Rawlins (’79)
Calvin Roebuck (’57)
Linda Miller (’70)
Chuck Woods (’86) & Sherri (Pierce) Woods
Darrell Krueger & Nancy Krueger
Stanley & Doris (Pickens) Bohon (’43)
Linden Lyle Ingraham (awarded posthumously)
Dean Rosebery (’41) & Amy (Ayres) Rosebery (’43)
Chuck Foudree (’66)
Dwain Horn (’50)
Steve Rose (’69)
Donald Scriven (’50, ’59) & Jolene Davidson Scriven (’54, ’59)
L.L. Via (’48)
I love my alumni chapter. Our group does so many things around the city that I never knew existed. It’s a great way to meet people outside your normal social circle and of course, network! It’s a low-commitment, fun way to still be involved with the University and get to hear about Truman’s happenings.