A memorial marker for William Jasper Spillman, a crop research pioneer and one of Washington State College’s first professors, was returned to campus last fall.
Spillman was the sixth faculty member to be hired at WSC, and the researcher responsible for developing new wheat varieties for the region. During his time here, he independently rediscovered Mendel’s law of genetics. He left WSC in 1901 to become a founder of agricultural economics, the first president of the American Agricultural Economics Association, and editor of Farm Journal. In the 1930s, before he died, he asked that his family return to the Palouse that he loved and spread his ashes over his field test plots on campus in the area of what is now Johnson Hall. The ashes of his wife, Mattie, were later spread there as well. In 1940, the site was dedicated in Spillman’s memory and marked with a large engraved stone. Sadly, over the decades, the memorial marker was moved off campus and the site all but forgotten. Thanks to the work of faculty, farmers, and administrators in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences, the marker was returned to campus last year. In October members of the Cougar family gathered at Johnson Hall to celebrate and remember Spillman.