The big reunions of June 2023 brought many Cougs back to Pullman and Spokane to visit their alma mater.

Washington State Magazine writers met with some of them at CougStoryCorps—a forum to hear their stories and share them with other Washington State University alumni recollections.

Here are some of their stories:


Nancy and Jim Lemery

Washington State University is her “happy place.”

As an undergraduate student in Pullman, she found the campus to be “a safe, encouraging, supportive environment with a lot of positives going on.”

Nancy (Mitchell) Lemery (’63 Ed.) is “forever grateful” for that. Her dad studied here, too. “So some of it was that feeling of following in my father’s footsteps.”

Cougar basketball coach Jack Friel was one of her father’s fraternity brothers. “And I was in a class of his. At about the second week, he said, ‘Mitchell, I know a Bud Mitchell. Could that be your dad by any chance?’

“And he called Daddy, and this was—I appreciate, respectively—the personalization that happened here. That was one of the best things, and you don’t hear that about other larger schools at all as much.”

Of course, she notes, “That was a long time ago.”

Her husband notes, “The best thing is: 60 years later we can still come back.”

James “Jim” Lemery (’63 Busi., ’65 MBA) went to high school in Portland, Oregon, and came to WSU on a scholarship to play basketball. He still keeps in touch with some of his teammates.

He worked as an accountant. She taught seventh, eighth and ninth graders.

They lived in Seattle, Spokane, and California before returning to the west side. Today, they live in Redmond. They are, she admits, following their grandkids.


Bob Baldwin: Camaraderie at Pine Manor

Bob Baldwin (’53) was looking for low-cost housing when he enrolled at Washington State College. He found it at Pine Manor, a student housing cooperative.

The cooperative housed about 84 students who took turns helping with cooking, cleaning, and maintenance. A house manager assigned the duties.

“It kept our costs way down,” Baldwin recalls. “I paid about $40 per month for room and board when I started in 1949. It cost about $60 per month by the time I graduated, but that’s still a pretty darn good deal.”

Pine Manor operated from the 1930s to the 1960s. The cooperative started out in rental houses until a two-story structure was built on Washington Street. Residents helped with the construction, and the co-op got its name from the knotty pine paneling in the interior.

Pine Manor was a social place. The residents frequently invited young women from the dorms over for dances.

Student dress code was quite formal during Baldwin’s years at WSC. Any formal event required full suits for male students. “And the girls all wore dresses, even to class,” Baldwin recalled.

“Co-ed dorms were just wishful thinking on our part,” he added. “We never would have dreamed of that.”

Eventually, the university deemed Pine Manor unsafe because it didn’t meet fire codes for housing. When the structure was torn down, former residents put up a plaque to commemorate it. They also scheduled reunions to reminisce about their time there.

After graduation, Baldwin had a long career in forestry. He was working for Weyerhaeuser in 1981 when Mount Saint Helens erupted. “Fortunately, it happened on a Sunday morning. Otherwise, we would have had loggers working up there, and they would have lost their lives.”

Baldwin was involved in replanting projects on Weyerhaeuser’s private timberlands after the eruption. Thousands of acres of trees were wiped out, and the replanting efforts took seven years.

“Now that timber is all grown up,” Baldwin says. “They’re harvesting those trees we started planting in 1981.”


The O’Callaghans

They went to school here, met here, got married here, started a family here, and recently moved back here.

Marilyn (Baker) O’Callaghan (’57 English) and Patrick Dennis “Denny” O’Callaghan (’60 DVM) wed in 1956 at Pullman’s Episcopal church.

She had graduated from high school in the Philippines. He had grown up in Seattle. They met in the CUB.

“Nobody thought we’d stay married. And we’ve been married 67 years,” she says, noting that—of all of their classmates—they seem to be among the handful left.

Washington State College officially became Washington State University during their tenure in 1959. And he likes to tease her about that. “She graduated in Washington State College, and I graduated in Washington State University… I was much more sophisticated. I graduated from university,” he says.

“I think it was a very good school, then. I think it’s a better school now,” he says.

He was in student government and remembers being “in class or labs six days a week eight hours a day. And then I worked four to five hours every night in the car motor pool. So you didn’t have a lot of spare hours, plus having a couple of kids.”

But, when he did, he remembers doing his “first skiing in the Moscow mountains on a pair a hickory skis…twice as long as my height.”

After finishing veterinary school, he worked as a veterinarian in The Dalles, Oregon, then Bend, Oregon.

“It wasn’t cold enough down in Bend,” he jokes, explaining their next move was to Alberta, Canada, where he worked at an “almost all large animal practice.” Winters were especially tough.

“It was 35 below zero, and everything we did was on the end of a rope outside, so it was an adventure. You had to be young and stupid. But they were great years.”

After that, he established a practice on the west side. “I practiced in Edmonds for a quarter of a century,” he notes, before retiring to the Methow Valley, where he liked to climb and do backcountry skiing and the couple enjoyed mountain views.

“And now I have a view of a parking lot. Slightly different,” he says, adding their new place is close to Pullman Regional Hospital. “My dad lived to 105, so I got several years to go.”

Meantime, “Life is good,” he says. “And, man, I just love being alive.”


Doug Hanson: Early Days of Computer Studies at WSU

Emery “Doug” Hanson (’80 Comp. Sci.) got hooked on computer programming at his Tacoma high school. After several years of community college, his interest in the emerging field of computer science led him to Washington State University.

“The University of Washington didn’t have a computer science program at the time,” Hanson says. “The internet, obviously, didn’t exist yet, and computer science wasn’t as oriented toward business as it is now. It was treated as more of a pure science.”

Most of Hanson’s work was on a mainframe. “It was DOS and floppy discs or punch cards, although I think we had one assignment on a Commodore 64.”

Since he was a transfer student, Hanson lived at Scott/Coman Hall, a dormitory for upper class students. “Being in a dorm for two years with a meal card to the cafeteria was a pretty carefree life,” he says.

Hanson has fond memories of competitive games of pinochle and cribbage with his dorm mates. But he was a serious student and “straight shooter” who only recalls two all-nighters.

One of Hanson’s memorable WSU experiences was getting back to Pullman after Mount Saint Helens erupted. He’d flown home on Cascade Airways to attend his girlfriend’s senior prom.

“I was going to fly back Sunday afternoon, but I didn’t get back to Pullman until Friday,” Hanson says. “As we flew toward Spokane, the pilot turned and headed south to stay out of the plume of ash as long as possible. It was still up there.”

After graduation, Hanson was invited to join his WSU advisor’s post-graduate work. “I think he was exploring what has become known as hyperlinks on the internet. But I figured I’d been in school long enough, and I needed to get out into a career.”

Hanson took a job at Boeing in computer software, working on airborne warning and control systems built by the company’s Defense and Space Group. “Being on the Defense side was good for job security,” he says. “I had a successful 40-year career with about one third of my career being overseas on assignment.”


Marching band brought couple together

Karen (’82) and Dan Burgard (’83) met through Washington State University’s marching band, where they became known as the “trombone couple.”

“Once you join the band, you have instant friends,” Karen says. “And one of our friends played cupid.”

“I spent two years in the marching band, and I met the love of my life,” Dan says.

Karen grew up in Alaska in a musical family and always knew she would try out for WSU’s marching band. Dan joined impulsively when he walked by a table of band members during registration and saw how much fun they were having. He had played in his high school marching band in California.

In addition, the WSU marching band’s recruiting poster was a draw.

“It was a cool poster,” Dan says. “A guy dressed in a band uniform was sitting on a cow in the middle of a Palouse field. He was playing a euphonium. It was a fellow who was in the band just before us.”

Karen later scanned the poster and had copies printed out. “Two of our four kids went to WSU, and they each have framed copies of it.”

Dan was the Outstanding Senior in the College of Agriculture, or “Aggie of the Year” in 1983. His major in soil sciences led to graduate work in Minnesota and a consulting career for issues in agriculture, water use, and environmental services. Karen’s animal nutrition major provided the science background she used at several jobs.

“We have ties here,” Karen says. “I still keep in touch with three of my friends from McAllister Hall, which is now a grassy field by Kruegel Hall. It’s sad the dorm is gone, but the memories from our time at WSU live on.”


Kappa Delta sisters for life

They’ve never been very far apart.

Lorraine Almy (’60 Bacteriol.) and Peggy Ann (Silver) Gettles (’60 Bacteriol.) were Kappa Delta sisters who studied the same subject and moved to Seattle together after graduation.

They worked together at Swedish Hospital, trained together as medical technologists, and lived together at Eklind Hall, the nurses’ dorm at Swedish, where they received room and board and $30 per month.

They both married Cougs, Don Almy (’62 Busi.) and the late John Bertrum Gettles (’61 Poli. Sci.), and came back for football games—they held season tickets—always sitting next to each other while rooting for their alma mater.

Their kids and some of their grandkids are Cougs, too.

Almy came as a freshman to Pullman, where she met her husband. He already had the same last name as she did. Gettles met her husband here, too.

She was a transfer student. Senior year was especially difficult, making sure to finish enough credits to graduate on time, including chemistry classes.

Memorable professors included Elizabeth R. Hall and Charles H. Drake, who was well known for including a bonus question unrelated to bacteriology or science on tests.

“It was a good school,” they both echo.


Laurelle Danton

“When I first started out at veterinary school, I had no money and a daughter. And I was living in the back of my truck.”

Laurelle Danton (’83 DVM) was able to secure a scholarship and a job at the library and finish school. But, when she graduated, she says, “I had no idea of what I was going to do.”

Shortly after commencement, she ended up in New Mexico with an offer to open a veterinary clinic. “This is in August. I graduated in May. And I’m asking myself, ‘What do I know about running a clinic?’”

She established Hot Springs Animal Medical with donated equipment—X-ray machine, anesthesia machine, old furniture.” So that’s how I got started, and had my own practice there for six years.”

When her daughter graduated, Danton moved back to California, where she’s originally from. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, but opted for Northern California and became a firefighter EMT. She also volunteered with a community SIDs committee, helping get protocols changed in California and Nevada. And she joined the local search-and-rescue organization, trained to be a counselor at a women’s shelter, and began offering in-home euthanasia for pets.

Her daughter is now a cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon in Reno. And Danton is still going strong. She trains service dogs. Her pup, Bella Anita, is the offspring of the offspring of her old search-and-rescue dog. “And I’ve got two that are in training to be service dogs.”

One is training to be a support animal for people with PTSD. “And another one is going to be a dog that I’ll take with me to the VA hospitals and deal with autistic children. So my dogs have to have jobs.”

Danton is 79 come September and back living in New Mexico. “And I’m not even thinking of retiring because I feel lucky to do what I do.”


Darrell Prowse

Darrell Prowse got hooked on TV in high school, covering basketball games with a single, black-and-white camera. “I just stuck with it throughout my life and into my retirement,” he says, noting, “I’m still doing TV stuff.”

Prowse (’73 Comm.) studied broadcast production at Washington State University, working in news production and videography throughout his entire career—and beyond. His work went from black and white to color, from TV and radio stations to Boeing, where he spent the bulk of his career.

At WSU, “I was the last class to graduate in black and white,” Prowse says. “We did a couple of productions in KSPS in Spokane, just to get experience working in color.”

His focus was camerawork and directing. During his first paid gig as a student—in Spokane with ABC—he was part of a crew producing football games. Graphics were handled with two sets of refrigerator magnets: one for offense, one for defense. Up to maybe a half-dozen people would be working on graphics. Today, it’s “done automatically, probably,” he says.

At graduation, “maybe four people” had job offers. “I was the only person in my graduating class that had two job offers. I had to make up my mind where I wanted to go. I had Miles City, Montana, and Flagstaff, Arizona.”

He chose Arizona and worked in TV sales there for a short time before returning to Washington state, landing a job in Olympia doing radio sales. Later, at the University of Washington, he worked in instructional media services. And, at the Kingdome, he was a TV equipment operator. “So I did camera, I did replay and, and the first 500 baseball games…”

Then, he went to Boeing, where he stayed 36 years. He started as a videotape editor, then did computerized editing and producing. He retired as Boeing’s senior video producer, working the shareholder meeting and “tons of first flights.”

He retired to Ocean Shores, but couldn’t quit TV. He serves on the board for KOSW 91.3 FM “The Sound of the Shores” and is involved with North Beach Community TV. Fifty years later, he’s still enjoying it. “It’s been a fun time.”


Richard McKinney

Richard McKinney (’73 Busi.) couldn’t make it to his recent Golden reunion, but wanted to share some memories. Here’s what he shared:

It was a time of great unrest in the early 1970s with the continuing Vietnam War. I was also an AF ROTC cadet, so I was especially aware of the situation.

In the spring of 1970 (my freshman year), a significant part of the WSU football stadium (Rogers Field ) burned to the ground in the aftermath of the Kent State demonstrations and shootings. It was widely believed to be arson. And it meant that, for the next two years, we had to travel to Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane to watch our “home” football games.

There were many times we packed cars to drive north to the stadium. The traffic was very bad. I especially remember one time I was in the back of a hatchback for the drive. It certainly wasn’t the safest way to travel but I was not the only one. I’m just grateful we were able to travel safely for the games. I was president of Stimson Hall in my junior year and, as a result, was part of a group of student leaders to meet with the Martin family as they generously donated to help rebuild the stadium. We met at the President’s House, now the Ida Lou Anderson House—the one time I was at the residence.

Jim Sweeney was our coach then. Later, I was able to go to the WSU appearance at the Rose Bowl in 1998.

One nice thing about living at Stimson was Ferdinand’s Creamery was almost right across the street. The ice cream was—and still is—great!

There were many demonstrations during my time at WSU, not only about the war but for civil rights as well. I remember one time I was in my ROTC uniform and people were yelling at me and once someone even spat at me, I guess because I was wearing the uniform and represented the establishment. It was not a pleasant time in our history. I eventually became an Air Force officer and spent almost 28 years on active duty. I traveled the world and eventually became involved with the Air Force’s space program, managing rocket and satellite programs and working at the Pentagon.

When we were there Butch was a real live cougar. His cage was about where the Cougar Pride statue is now. It is good that they no longer have a live mascot as the animal didn’t have a lot of room to live or run around.

I remember many noisy and raucous games in Bohler Gym. It was great fun, and we were quite proud of the noise we could generate in the small arena. We saw the great ULCA teams with people like John Wooden, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), and Bill Walton, plus many others. We always played them tough, and it was great fun no matter what the result. Our coach was the great Marv Harshman, who left to go to the UW—that was a shock!—and then we saw George Raveling for just our senior year. His first season wasn’t that good but later on took WSU to the NCAA tournament for the first time in many, many years.

The Beasley Coliseum was built during my time at WSU. It did not open in time for basketball season for our senior year, but we were the first class to graduate from Beasley in June 1973—and possibly the first official function at Beasley.

I made some lifetime friends at WSU. Sadly, my two best friends from WSU have passed away in the last few years. Gordie Blume (’73 Geol.), who became an AF pilot and then later a captain for Alaska Airlines, and John Antich (’74 Pharm.), who was a pharmacy major and later had his own pharmacy in Spokane. They were both great people, and I miss them both.

Thanks for letting me share a few stories! Go Cougs!


Reflections from Alice and Rex Davis 70 years after graduation

By Alice Riley Davis (’53 Music Ed.)

I graduated the same year as my husband, Rex. My parents had met and attended college in Pullman in the 1920s. And all of their children—there were seven of us—had the same goal: attend college in Pullman, also.

The first three, including myself and two of my sisters, enjoyed singing in school and church choirs while in college. Being in marching band was our favorite social group. Bryan Hall became our gathering spot, and I love it still. I went on to major in music education, using my degree to teach at the elementary level.

My first year at Washington State College was spent in a dorm called West House. Female freshmen had to live on campus in this dorm, which is where the Fine Arts building now stands. It was quite a shock to me to find out there were three dorms for male students—North, South and East Houses—across Stadium Way, where part of the veterinarian complex and parking lot now stand. Having to eat with all those boys was very hard to get used to. But, stopping at Ferdinand’s on the way to West House was rewarding.

The next three years I lived in Duncan Dunn, right in the middle of the campus. Looking out my west window, I could see Rex Davis leave his fraternity for classes and, if I hurried, I could “accidently meet him” and walk with him toward my classes.

I loved marching band in the fall. It became the highlight of each day as we practiced for weekend football games. For two years I had an older sister with me, and we both enjoyed playing tricks and teasing other band members. We were known as Roughy and Toughy. I never knew which term described me.

Alice Riley Davis with older sister
Courtesy Alice Riley Davis

The hills, brick buildings, classes, social activities, and special events were so special to me in my college life. I got teary my senior year, knowing I wouldn’t be coming back in the fall. Rex saved my emotions, however, by proposing marriage, in May 1953. Little did I know we would get to come back as a family to live in Pullman these past 55 years.

By Rex S. Davis (’53, ’61 MS Phys. Ed.)

My first steps on the Washington State College campus were with my Richland friends in the fall of 1949. They talked me into going through rush, and I joined their Delta Chi fraternity, which was next to (Director of Physical Education and Athletics) Dr. (J. Fred) Bohler’s home. I was the first one in my family to go to college, and every day was a new adventure.

I heard about a gymnastics team on campus and, since I had some gymnastics in high school, I joined the team. That became my favorite place for four years. Gymnastic trips and meets took up much of my time. I also became a cheerleader, along with other gymnasts. Education classes prepared me for teaching and coaching, which was my life’s vocation.

Pullman’s Methodist church was a special place since that was where I met my future wife, Alice, who sang in the choir. Our social life revolved around my fraternity activities, church gatherings, and campus dances in the Student Union. Attending musical events in Bryan Hall, in which Alice participated, became something I looked forward to.

We moved back to Pullman in 1966 to live, work, and raise four children. I was hired to teach in WSU’s physical education department and to coach a few years of gymnastics, then coach 28 years of tennis. Pullman became our retirement place, also, since we could never leave our WSU home.

Thanks, WSU. You are, and have been, a big part of our lives over the years.


CougStoryCorps logo is a project of Washington State Magazine