White, Maynard

Maynard White was born on May 8, 1907 to James Robert White and Minnie May Beckley White in Modesto California. He has a younger brother Elwin and one older sister, Rowena. He moved around a lot as a child throughout the outer Bay area. He grew up without much money, but had a very driven work ethic. He was a self-made, successful business man. He worked hard throughout the Depression and took chances to advance himself.

Maynard grew up on a farm, living next to family, while his father managed a dairy farm. His father worked many different trades from farming to logging to carpentry. The family moved when his father would take a new employment opportunity. Maynard found his first job at Coleman’s Market, making 25 dollars a week. He was very active in his church being treasurer for 25 years and then serving as a deacon, helping the sick. He met his wife Lela at a church activity at the Oakland Roller rink. He courted her for about two years and then they married.

Maynard began working for a couple different grocery stores, while learning the trade of how to purchase produce. He began really working his way up the business ladder when he was hired at Heinz Company to sell in the San Francisco territory. He covered this area on foot, carrying samples of different types of food that they would give him to pass out to people. He then switched employers to the Sunshine Biscuit Company. This was now during the Depression in the early 1930s. Maynard came upon an opportunity to buy his own company for 3,000 dollars: he named it White’s Food Products Company. He was selling shelled nuts in cellophane bags. He also bought a company by the name of Gain Products Label and changed its name over the White’s Food Products Company also. Being a creative man and a smart salesman and knowing the trade, Maynard came up with ideas of products to sell. He started with glazed fruit in plastic and candles in plastic bags so that the customer could see the product. He owned his companies for 32 years. He sold his businesses at the age of 70.

Maynard lived through many important historical events. A few of these events include the takeoff of Amelia Earhart’s unsuccessful flight across the South Pacific. He also witnessed the unfortunate crash of the first single winged plane flown by Bob Coffee. Arizona has been Maynard’s home for a few years now since going through the death of his second wife Wilma White. His first wife Lela suffered from Alzheimer’s and passed, followed by the death if his brother, two days later. He then married his sister-in-law Wilma. He moved here to live with his daughter. Maynard always had a smile on his face up until his passing in April 2016.


To listen to or read the transcript of an oral history interview with Maynard White recorded on May 20, 2011, click on the icons below:



Interview audio

Interview transcript