Son Honors Father with Touching, Fiery Sendoff
By Tim Triplett
on Aug 16, 2014
There was no ceremony, no pomp and circumstance, just a quiet moment between father and son by the roaring Nucor furnace. A tribute to a life well-lived, forged forever in steel.
Charles M. White, Jr., known to all as Mack, died May 21 at age 88. A native of steel country and Bethlehem, Pa., Mack graduated from Lehigh University and served a stint in the Navy during WWII before embarking on a long and successful career selling steel. He eventually retired as vice president of sales at Auburn Steel Co. in Auburn, N.Y. Nucor Steel purchased the Austeel mill in April 2001.
His son, Mack White III, followed in his father's footsteps and now works as the operations manager at Murphy and Nolan Inc.'s Syracuse, N.Y., branch. Murphy and Nolan is a small service center that distributes specialty bar and tube products.
'My dad retired early from Austeel in 1992 to take care of my ailing mother, but he never lost his love for steel. One of his requests years ago, maybe half jokingly, was to have his ashes thrown in the furnace at the mill," he recalls.
Having worked at the mill himself during college, Mack reached out to some familiar contacts. To his surprise, the powers that be at Nucor graciously honored the unusual request. "In fact, they were very happy to do it and even rearranged the rolling schedule so he could end up in a heat of #6 rebar. That is all Austeel rolled when dad started there. I like to think my father really helped that company grow when it was Auburn Steel."
On June 16, decked out in all the necessary safety gear—steel-toed boots, fire suit and helmet—the younger Mack placed the container with his father's ashes on the cart with the other alloys and watched it disappear into the fiery ladle. A moment he will never forget, he says, fingering the piece of rebar that now sits proudly on his desk.
Mack especially wants to express his gratitude to the folks at Nucor for their kind cooperation during his family's period of sadness and loss. "They truly went above and beyond the call of duty to do that for us. Some of the guys who worked with my father are still at the mill and they thought the whole thing was great."
The special heat rolled that day was headed for repairs to New York's Tappan Zee Bridge. If the ride somehow feels a little firmer next time you venture over the Hudson, remember your brother in steel Mack White.