Frank Carey, an orchardist and rancher near Yakima at the beginning of the twentieth century, only had a fifth-grade education. But he was forward thinking when it came to college for his children; Carey sent all four of his children, three daughters and a son, to Washington State College.

Elva Carey (’19), Avis Carey (’22), and T. Benton Carey (’30), launched a tradition that spans a century, leading to five generations of Carey’s descendants at Washington State. Elva and Avis were charter members of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Avis married Edward Robert Nolte (x’21) and Elva married Chester Worthen (’17 Elec. Eng.).

The Rightmire extended family of Cougs at a game in Martin Stadium
The Rightmire extended family of Cougs at a game in Martin Stadium (Courtesy Deborah Rightmire Granger)

The three Carey siblings who graduated often told stories of their time at Pullman, such as Elva’s memory of when the college students met the train with the victorious 1916 Rose Bowl team, and wheelbarrowed the football players up the hill to campus from the train station.

At the end of World War II, Avis and Ed’s daughter, Louise, moved to Pullman with her husband, Wallace Gordon Rightmire (’51 DVM). They lived in the hastily constructed South Fairway married student housing, where Louise raised three future Cougars—Richard “Dick” Rightmire (’69 Ag. Ed.), Deborah Rightmire (’71 English Ed.), and Rebecca Rightmire (’73 Elem. Ed.)—while Gordon finished his veterinary degree.

Deborah recalls her parents spoke fondly of their time at Fairway, where “the other families became and remained dear friends up into their 90s.”

The Rightmires eventually settled near Bellingham, where Gordon started a veterinary practice.

Dick married Kathleen Kruse (’69 Home Econ.) at WSU, while turbulence rocked the campus. Deborah, Rebecca, and Kathleen remember the protests, strict dress codes, basketball games in Bohler Gym—and how WSU President Glenn Terrell made a huge impact on them as students.

Dick returned to northwest Washington and worked as an agricultural educator until his death in 2000. His and Kathleen’s children, Todd (’92 Ag. Ed.) and Kristi (’95 Ag. Comm.), became the fourth generation of Cougs, along with Deborah’s daughter, Katie Granger (‘06 Elem. Ed.) and Rebecca’s son, Bryce McGrew (’06 Phys. Ed.).

The family was recognized for their dedication long after graduation. Nominated by his children, Gordon was awarded WSU “Dad of the Year” in 1968. His son Dick was selected “Dad of the Year” in 1992.

Gordon also received the Alumni Achievement Award in 1982, served as president of the Whatcom County Alumni Association, and became the first president of the WSU Veterinary Alumni Association. Dick served as president of the Whatcom County Cougar Club.

The connection continues as Todd, also an agricultural educator in Whatcom County, brings FFA members to the state convention in Pullman each year, sometimes assisted by his sister Kristi.

The Rightmires still travel to Pullman, including homecoming in 2018 and 2019. They also come to visit the fifth generation: Meghan Harting, daughter of Kristi and Mark Harting (’93, ’95 MS Ani. Sci.) and a sophomore studying communication.

“It’s a huge source of pride, being part of this Cougar lineage,” Todd says.