HIGHLIGHTING THE HISTORICAL NAMESAKES OF THE HISTORY CHEROKEE GALLERIES
HISTORY CENTER MAIN HALL: GATEWAY TO MUSEUM
For Cherokee County native and respected businessman Ken White, giving back to his hometown and the institutions that helped him on his way to success is a driving force in his life.
Now, thanks to his generous gift to the Cherokee County History Center, the Ken White Main Hall offers an impressive gateway to those who come to learn about the history of the county where he was born and raised.
While Ken has his roots deep in Cherokee County, he spent most of his adult life in Dalton, Georgia, where he enjoyed a successful and varied career, first as an accountant and then as an entrepreneur, launching two carpet-manufacturing businesses.
As an innovative community leader and tireless benefactor for his alma mater, Ken served forty years on the Reinhardt University board of trustees.
Those who visit Reinhardt University are familiar with his name. His presence and support are recognized throughout the campus where the atrium, music center, baseball field, softball fields and hitting facility, faculty conference room, and football field all bear his name.
“It is important to me to pay back the community, to help people who need help, and to help others to get higher education. In 1992 when I formed the White Family Foundation, my goal was to pay back,” Ken shares. “I like to stay busy, and I like to help others. Part of my plan with my life was to work and retire and teach, but the teaching part didn’t work out. But giving back to the community and helping others did. I love Cherokee County. I am still very interested in what goes on there and help where I can.”
Born in 1941 in Lathemtown, the son of Walton and Kathryn White, Ken graduated from Cherokee High School in 1959 and from Reinhardt College in 1961.
Ken’s father served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and upon returning took a job with Canton Cotton Mills. When Ken was seven years old his family moved from Lathemtown to the mill village in North Canton.
After completing his first nine years of education, Ken attended Cherokee High School the first year it opened in 1957. “It was very nice, a great school. We had a great mathematics department,” Ken recalls. “I was primarily involved in athletics, in Beta Club, was an honor graduate, and played three sports: baseball, basketball, and football.”
Ken credits Reinhardt University with preparing him for a successful career, first as a certified public accountant and then as a business owner.
“I decided [for financial reasons] to go to Reinhardt for five quarters, then graduated from UGA [University of Georgia]. What I have done for Reinhardt is for other students so that they can get a higher education, because my education gave me a road to success,” Ken explains. “The cultural and religious aspects of Reinhardt were good for me and gave me the chance to get my education at a reasonable cost.”
Ken married his wife, Myra, when he was a senior at the University of Georgia. The couple has two grown sons. The Cherokee County History Center classroom is named in honor of Myra.
In 2021 Reinhardt University honored Ken with an honorary doctorate in humane letters to recognize his extraordinary kindness, professional achievements, service to the community, and generosity to Reinhardt University.
Today Ken continues to operate the White Family Foundation while also being a minority owner in ventures across several industries.
The Main Gallery features a mural by noted artist, Reinhardt graduate, and Canton resident Bryan White. The mural showcases each of the cities in Cherokee County. A video offers an overview of the county’s history, and interactive exhibits give visitors a chance to learn about the history in detail before exploring the galleries.
CHEROKEE COUNTY HISTORY CENTER
The Cherokee County History Center is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m.
Located at 221 East Marietta Street in Canton, History Cherokee provides free parking for guests. There is also a free public-use parking garage across from the History Center at 200 West Marietta Street.
Admission to the museum is $9 for adults and $7 for children ages five to fourteen as well as seniors over sixty-five. Admission for children under the age of four is free. All History Cherokee members also receive free admission.
For more information visit HistoryCherokee.org.
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Canton writer Rebecca Johnston is a Cherokee County native and graduate of Cherokee High School and the University of Georgia. Rebecca has won several Georgia Press Association awards for her writing, including the 2007 First Place Award for Serious Columnist. She currently writes for Enjoy Cherokee Magazine.