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Eric Apalategui

Seely mint
Winter 2014

Mike Seely ’84, ’09—A passion for peppermint

During the August harvest, the smell of peppermint freshens the air over Clatskanie, Oregon, where third-generation farmer Mike Seely ’84, ’09 MBA is finding sweet success in a crop that once nearly bankrupted him.

“We’ve been raising mint forever,” says Seely, who paid his WSU tuition farming the fast-growing perennial. He first farmed near Vancouver before buying his home farm along the lower Columbia River where the moderate climate and rich soils are ideal for growing the flavorful crop. He earned his first degree in electrical engineering, but unlike his siblings he never strayed far from farming.

This year, the Seely’s … » More …

Robert Franklin
Spring 2014

Robert Franklin ’75, ’76, ’79—A new leash on life

Over more than three decades, veterinarian Dr. Robert Franklin has advocated for animal welfare—even when those animals never set a paw into his specialty practice in Beaverton, Oregon.

Franklin ’75 BS, ’76 BS, ’79 DVM is on the frontlines of animal wellbeing and companionship issues in the Pacific Northwest, whether he’s working behind the scenes to save a stray or squarely in the spotlight ensuring that famed orca Keiko was getting appropriate medical care.

“The animal welfare movement is waiting for veterinarians to lead it like we should,” says Franklin, who recently received Washington State University’s Distinguished Veterinary Alumnus Award. “We’ve got to look at … » More …

Dan and Val Ogden
Summer 2013

Dan ’44 and Val ’46 Ogden—Staying activist in older age

Last fall in Vancouver, with the voter registration deadline looming, Dan Ogden ’44 wasn’t about to be held up by Parkinson’s disease or two artificial hips.

He pushed his walker around his new apartment complex and through a recently completed cul-de-sac to make sure his neighbors could take part in the November general election. At his side was Val Ogden ’46, his partner in Democratic Party politics and wife of 66 years. She was spry enough to negotiate steps and stairways to ring doorbells beyond her husband’s reach.

The Ogdens are in their seventh decade of political and social activism—with roots going back to their … » More …

Summer 2011

From Burma to the Blazers

Richard Cho ’89 was born in Burma (Myanmar), an impoverished Asian country on the United Nations’ list of least-developed nations. When he was just three, his family moved to the United States, saving and economizing for a better life.

Four decades later, Cho has landed his dream job as a general manager in the National Basketball Association. Today, the first Asian American to become a GM leads the Portland Trail Blazers, the only remaining NBA team in the Pacific Northwest. Now he hires players, offering salaries in the millions.

“When I was growing up, when we emigrated here, my family was on welfare for … » More …

Winter 2009

Florence Wager ’54—Vancouver park activist without par

Florence Wager bought a set of golf clubs when she wrapped up her career in arts and education.

“I had this preconceived notion about retirement,” says Wager, 81, who earned a bachelor’s degrees at WSU in speech in 1950 and education in 1954 and spent most of her career boosting the San Francisco Symphony. “I thought you played golf, played bridge, went to tea parties.”

Then, after moving back to her native Vancouver in 1990, she volunteered for the Chinook Trail Association. Then she volunteered for the YWCA. Then the parks and recreation department. Then the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. She joined boards and … » More …

Winter 2003

Low prices bog down cranberry growers

In the not-so-old days, circa the mid-1990s, a small farmer along Washington’s southern coastline could rake enough cranberries—and money—from just 10 acres of bogs to send the kids to college and maybe have enough cash left to spend Christmas in Hawaii.

Since the late 1990s, however, some cranberry farmers have been bogged down in another shade of red: debt.

“Now,” says Kim Patten, Washington State University Extension’s cranberry specialist based on the Long Beach Peninsula, “both husband and wife better be working outside jobs and having the kids go to college on their own—and never have a day off.”

An expanding supply of cranberries outran … » More …

Winter 2006

John Gross: Walking in both worlds

During his nearly two decades as a forester, there were days when John Gross would gladly have traded jobs with his wife, a teacher.

Yet, after he realized his dream and started teaching in 1997, he would occasionally find himself glancing out the classroom window during a math or state history lesson, longing to be tromping through the woods again.

When Gross (’77 Forest Mgt., Bus.) gave up his first professional passion, forestry, to indulge a long-growing love of teaching, he made the type of trade-off many people face during their careers. But it’s a sacrifice he no longer shoulders. Three years ago, he started … » More …

Summer 2006

Journalism's grandest prize

On the morning of Tuesday, May 20, 1980, journalists arrived at The Daily News, turned on their computers, and were greeted with the daily message from managing editor Bob Gaston (’67 Journ.). That day’s message was far from typical.

This was two days after the devastating eruption of Mount St. Helens and less than 24 hours after the Longview newspaper staff published an astounding 45 of its own stories and numerous jaw-dropping photographs of the deadly blast.

Although his exact words are lost to time, the gist of Gaston’s message to the newsroom was this: After just one issue, there was a tremendous buzz in … » More …

Summer 2007

Jill Harding: A love of nature

When Jill Harding was growing up in Maple Valley, Washington, there was a patch of woods on her street where she nurtured a love of nature. Then the trees vanished, victims of urban development elbowing out from Seattle and Tacoma.

“Those woods won’t be there for other kids,” Harding says, a twinge of sadness still in her voice.

Yet here she was on a sunny August morning, helping to preserve a much different development site: the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s 200-year-old winter encampment. The land surrounding Fort Clatsop in northwest Oregon once more is cradled by conifers.

Harding (’92 Wildlife & Wildland Rec. Mgt.) is … » More …

Summer 2007

Rob Barnard: An uplifting endeavor

When Rob Barnard ’84 was earning degrees in architecture and construction management, his professors scheduled project deadlines and tests on the same day.

“What that was teaching you was time management, how to work with a small amount of sleep and under pressure,” says Barnard, who brought that work ethic home to Portland. During the next two decades, the once-sleepy Rose City gained acclaim for innovatively solving urban problems, including transportation woes that vex most cities. Barnard’s blueprints are all over that reputation.

In magazine rankings last year, Men’s Journal deemed Portland the best place to live in the United States, praising its “nearly flawless” … » More …