Charter Communications said Mary L. White, the former president of the cable operator's Central Division, died early March 6. She was 46. The Madison, Wisc.-based executive, who retired at the end of 2008, had breast cancer.
A Chicago native who played point guard for the Northern Illinois University women's basketball team, White got her start in cable out of college with an internship at Cablenet and Associates, marketing cable subscriptions.
That led to marketing positions at Tele-Communications Inc. and AT&T Broadband, where she also was an operating executive.
Before joining Charter in 2005, she was senior vice president of Colorado operations at Comcast.
She joined Charter as head of Great Lakes operations before becoming Central Division president after a realignment of operations. She had overall responsibility for systems in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin with 1.4 million subscribers at the time of her appointment.
Charter recently described her as "a cable force of nature." Among industry accolades, she was a graduate of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute and was honored as a cable Wonder Woman by Multichannel News in 2008.
At the Wonder Women ceremony last March, White told a story that was both self-deprecating and revealing. It was about her college basketball days and a time when this team player got a little carried away.
During a game against basketball power Purdue, when things weren't going well, White said her coach had a simple message for the team during a timeout. He looked directly at White and said: "Mary, stop shooting."
When she went back on the court, she hoisted up a shot that went in.
"And guess what, I had a lot of running I had to do the next day," White said. "But my team members were with me the next day, and it was worth it."
In college, she said, "I was fortunate to be surrounded by people who supported me and always pushed me to do better. And I had a coach who taught me that you miss 100% of the shots that you don't take. I use that advice today, every day."
She credited support she received in her business career from Trish Ball of Cablenet; Ron Cooper of AT&T Broadband, who "took a risk, gave me a shot;" and Charter colleagues Paula Trustdorf, Joe Stackhouse and "my boss, Mike Lovett," Charter's chief operating officer.
Her husband, Dale, and then-15-year-old daughter, Campbell, attended the luncheon in New York with her last March. Campbell White and two friends recently created t-shirts with the slogan "Keep the Hope Alive" in tribute to her mother and sold to raise funds for the Madison, Wisc., chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The shirts are $16 each and more information about them can be obtained from Charter's Anita Lamont at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to a short obituary on the Madison.com Web site, funeral services will be held on March 17 in Verona, Wisc.