Winter 2021 Class Notes

Class Notes include professional accomplishments, awards, retirements, weddings, obituaries and other news about Western Washington University alumni; they’re gathered from published reports and communication from alumni themselves.

If you have an update you’d like us to share in Class Notes, please email it to Tell us what’s new with you, and we’ll publish it in the next edition and online.

These are the class notes for this issue. See all class notes here.

Class Notes (General)

Robert M. Funkhouser - 1949

Robert M. Funkhouser, 83, a longtime high school teacher and fisher, on Feb. 29, 2020, in Bellingham.

Dale Pihlman - 1964

After a career on the waters of southeast Alaska as a fisher, fisheries biologist and tour/charter boat operator, Dale Pihlman, BAE, K-12 art, and ’68, M.Ed., retired a few years ago and recently wrote “Alaska’s Inside Passage,” which explores the region’s nature, history, Native cultures, and industries.

Gerald L. Nies - 1971

Gerald L. Nies, B.A., business administration, was recently elected chairman of the board of Riverview Bancorp, Inc.

Jeff Antonelis-Lapp - 1978

Jeff Antonelis-Lapp, B.S., environmental education, retired in 2015 from teaching environmental education and natural history at The Evergreen State College, where he followed in the footsteps of his mentor, John Miles. Washington State University Press recently published Antonelis-Lapp’s “Tahoma and Its People: A Natural History of Mount Rainier National Park.” Miles wrote a review of the book for the “National Parks Traveler” website last year.

Kathi Williams - 1981

Kathi Williams, B.S., biology, is an operating engineer working in Alaska for the International Union of Operating Engineers, running heavy equipment in pipeline maintenance and installation, as well as highway and bridge construction. She also works with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on upgrading power and communication lines.

Senya Ohkubo - 1985

Senya Ohkubo, B.A., philosophy, has had a career in marketing in Japan since graduation, working for DuPont, Recaro, Bose, Ferarri and Sheraton, as well as his own marketing consulting company. Today, he works with Harman International, representing audio brands like JBL, Harman Kardon, and AKG. Bellingham is on his post-pandemic travel list.

Jill M. Rice - 1987

Jill M. Rice, B.A., business administration, recently became the chief credit officer for The Banner Bank, where she has worked since 2002.

Rick Turner - 1989

Longtime basketball coach Rick Turner, B.A., communication studies, is now the head coach and national coordinator for the Jamaican national basketball team.

Steve Morse - 1989

Steve Morse, M.Ed., school administration, retired after 40 years in public schools, mostly in Whatcom County. He recently wrote a memoir, “Sixty Years in the Schoolhouse: Life After the Bell.”

David Cuillier - 1990

David Cuillier, B.A., journalism, recently received the 2020 James Madison Award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government. Cuillier is president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and an associate professor at the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

Marty Wine - 1990

Marty Wine, B.A., political science, became city manager for Monmouth, Oregon. Previously, Wine was the city manager for Tigard, Oregon.

Mike Nagle - 1991

Mike Nagle, BAE, and ’93, M.A., history, is a history professor at West Shore Community College in Michigan and recently hosted one of his former Western professors, Alan Gallay, to speak at the college’s Humankind series. Gallay now holds the Lyndon B. Johnson Chair in American History at Texas Christian University.

Leslie Isaacs - 1991

Leslie Isaacs, B.A., decision sciences, recently became the administrative services director for Alaska’s Department of Administration. Isaacs is working from home in Southeast Alaska in Klawock, where he’s the former city administrator.

Cami Ostman - 1993

Cami Ostman, BAE, English, is a writer and editor and the founder of The Narrative Project, which helps writers complete their books, and the author of “Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents.”

David Parr - 1994

David Parr, B.A., international business, was recently appointed executive vice president and director of Commercial Lending at HomeStreet Bank.

Mitsu Iwasaki - 1996

Mitsu Iwasaki, B.S., geology, recently became CEO of the American Alpine Club. Previously, he led the operations of Big City Mountaineers and served as executive director of Northwest Outward Bound School and executive director of the Mazamas.

Gary Potter - 1997

Gary Potter, B.A., psychology, packed up his family and moved to Paris in 2006 to study pastry-making at Le Cordon Bleu. He now runs a French patisserie in Olympia, Left Bank Pastry.

Sarah Wyffels - 2002

Sarah Wyffels, B.A., Spanish, was recently named 2021 Arizona Teacher of the Year and is a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award. Wyffels is a National Board Certified Teacher who earned her master’s degree from the University of Portland and has been a Spanish teacher at Chandler High School for 13 years.

Mary Margaret Miller - 2003

Mary Margaret Miller, recreation, just finished her second term of national service with AmeriCorps VISTA. After completing a year with the Boston Mayor’s Office working in food access, Miller served a year with the Clark County Food Bank in Vancouver, Washington.

Naz Riahi - 2003

“Sincerely Erik,” a short film about a Brooklyn bookstore owner searching for social connection during quarantine was written and directed by Naz Riahi, B.A., journalism and Spanish, and nominated for the Vimeo Film Festival and Awards in the Quarantine Videos category.

Paul Knowles - 2004

Paul Knowles, B.A., history, park planner for Spokane County, was recently named 2020 Conservation Hero by the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy.

Anne Thatcher - 2005

The Rev. Anne Thatcher, M.Ed., recently became the rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey. Previously, she was an associate rector at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia.

Ryan Huetter - 2006

Ryan Huetter, B.A., recreation, is a mountain guide certified by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations. He leads rock climbing, skiing and alpine climbing trips around the world.

Adam Lincoln - 2006

Adam Lincoln, B.A., political science, recently became deputy city manager of Pasco.

Matthew Palmgren - 2007

Matthew Palmgren, B.A., art-sculpture, is the assistant curator at the Columbia Maritime Museum in Astoria, where he also has an art gallery, 14th Street Studios.

Adriel Butler - 2007

Adriel Butler, B.S., manufacturing and supply chain management, is the founder and chief operating officer of Borealis Basecamp, a resort in Fairbanks, Alaska, where guests stay in glass-roofed geodomes to watch the northern lights.

Ariel Wetzel - 2007

Ariel Wetzel, B.A., Fairhaven interdisciplinary concentration, and, ’09, M.A., English, accepted a tenure-track faculty position as the director of the Writing & Reading Center at Green River College in Auburn.

Brandon Fralic - 2009

Falcon Guides recently released “Urban Hikes Washington” by Brandon Fralic, B.A., psychology, and Rachel Wood, ’11, B.A., English – creative writing and ’13, M.A., English. Fralic and Wood are also the authors of “Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest” and have written about travel, hiking and beer for Washington Trails, REI Co-op Journal and OutdoorsNW.

Jessica Self - 2009

Jessica Self, B.A., biology, recently became the external affairs manager for the Calaveras County Water District in California. Previously, she was grants and development manager for the Palouse Conservation District in Pullman.

Christopher Kong - 2010

After working in kitchens around the world, Christopher Kong, B.A., finance and marketing, is the chef at Dearborn Supper Club in Singapore.

Anthony Georger - 2010

Anthony Georger, MBA, recently became the chief financial officer for the Bend Bulletin and the EO Media Group.

Brendan Pape - 2011

After launching their first clothing company, Disidual, while they were still students at Western, Brendan Pape (B.A., communication) and Christian Harkson (’12, B.A., communication) now lead the fast-growing Brist Manufacturing, which designs and produces custom clothing in small quantities for ski resorts, breweries and other clients.

Rachel Wood - 2011

Falcon Guides recently released “Urban Hikes Washington” by Brandon Fralic, B.A., psychology, and Rachel Wood, ’11, B.A., English – creative writing and ’13, M.A., English. Fralic and Wood are also the authors of “Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest” and have written about travel, hiking and beer for Washington Trails, REI Co-op Journal and OutdoorsNW.

Will Wheaton - 2013

Will Wheaton, B.A., general studies, has a master of architecture degree from the University of Washington and recently became an architectural designer for Graham Baba Architects.

Johnny Alavez - 2014

Johnny Alavez, B.A., political science, recently became a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C., for the National Corn Growers Association. Previously, he worked on Capitol Hill with U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse.

Dane O’Brien - 2014

Dane O’Brien, B.S., kinesiology – pre-healthcare, completed his doctorate in chiropractic at Palmer College of Chiropractic West in San Jose, California. He recently became the owner and principal chiropractor of Arlington Chiropractic and Wellness in Arlington.

Taylor Mattson - 2016

Taylor Mattson, BFA, design, is the artist behind two of this year’s holiday Starbucks cups: one reminiscent of the stripes of a holiday sweater, the other with polka-dots.

Ashley Hiruko - 2016

Ashley Hiruko, B.A., visual journalism, is a journalist at KUOW Public Radio and recently became president of the Western Washington chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Annika Fleming - 2017

Annika Fleming, BAE, special education, is a teacher in the Intensive Learning Center at Washington Elementary School in Mount Vernon and performs standup comedy.

Kristina Rivera - 2019

Kristina Rivera, B.A. journalism – public relations, is the marketing and communications coordinator at Intentionalist, an online guide to support small businesses and diverse communities.

Krista Cassidy - 2019

Mezzo soprano Krista Cassidy, B.A., music and theatre, performed several Disney classics in a virtual concert for the Northshore Performing Arts Foundation’s Mid-Week Mashup series.

Brooklyn Bell - 2019

Brooklyn Bell, B.A., design, is an artist, graphic designer, mountain biker and skier who was recently profiled in “Becoming Ruby: Inclusion, Bikes and Hand-Drawn Heroes,” produced by Patagonia. Bell is an ambassador for Kona bikes and in early 2020 began competitive skiing on the Freeride World Qualifying Tour.

Grace McCarthy - 2020

Grace McCarthy, B.A., journalism, became editor of The Northern Light in Blaine. Ian Haupt, B.A., journalism, recently joined the staff as a writer and special publications editor.

Tris Anderson - 2020

Tris Anderson, B.A., journalism- news editorial, recently became a reporter for the News Monitor in Wahpeton, North Dakota.

Ian Haupt - 2020

Grace McCarthy, B.A., journalism, became editor of The Northern Light in Blaine. Ian Haupt, B.A., journalism, recently joined the staff as a writer and special publications editor.

Viola “Vi” Zurline - FRND

Viola “Vi” Zurline, 93, who was very active in the travel industry and Bellingham community affairs, including service on the Western Foundation board, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.


Nancy E. Wilson Piovesan - 1938

Nancy E. Wilson Piovesan, 92, who was active in Ferndale-area community affairs and worked in the family veterinary clinic, on Aug. 25, 2019, in Bellingham.

Crystal (Ackerman) Johnson - 1948

Crystal (Ackerman) Johnson, 95, a retired elementary school teacher, on Dec. 2, 2019.

Robert Terrell - 1951

Robert Terrell, 99, a U.S. Navy veteran and a longtime elementary school principal in Auburn, on Sept. 2, 2020.

Jan Snapper - 1953

Jan Snapper, 87, a retired engineer who worked in space programs with TRW, on Nov. 17, 2020, in Holland, Michigan.

Ray Chapman - 1953

Ray Chapman, 93, a veteran of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Airforce and a retired drafting and industrial arts teacher at Sehome High School, on Jan. 14, 2020, in Bellingham.

William Francis Theodore Karwacki - 1957

William Francis Theodore Karwacki, 88, a U.S. Army veteran with a long career in education as a teacher, coach, psychologist, principal and superintendent, on Sept. 28, 2020, in Moses Lake.

L. Dennis White - 1957

L. Dennis White, 89, who taught biology at Auburn High School and Green River College, on July 17, 2020.

Donald “Ted” Nesheim - 1958

Donald “Ted” Nesheim, 87, a U.S. Airforce veteran and a retired industrial arts teacher at Lakota Junior High in Federal Way, on Jan. 20, 2020.

Judith “Lane” (Ecker) Parker - 1961

Judith “Lane” (Ecker) Parker, 80, a longtime elementary school teacher in Central Kitsap, on Feb. 5, 2020, in Surprise, Arizona.

Edward Carney - 1961

Edward Carney, 86, who owned and operated a construction company in Friday Harbor for many years, on Aug. 19, 2020, in Anacortes.

Joyce Grace Munden Zimmerman - 1964

Joyce Grace Munden Zimmerman, 89, a longtime elementary teacher in the Shelton and North Thurston school districts, on Aug. 11, 2019.

Steven Keith Aspden - 1964

Steven Keith Aspden, 77, a longtime teacher and administrator in the Peninsula School District, on June 16, 2020 in Chandler, Arizona.

Beverly Ann Champers - 1965

Beverly Ann Champers, 76, a retired elementary school teacher, on Aug. 15, 2019.

Jerry B. Andresen - 1966

Jerry B. Andresen, 74, who taught in Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Germany, Spain, Bahrain, Turkey and Sicily, on Feb. 15, 2019, in Yakima.

David Marlan Swartos - 1966

David Marlan Swartos, 77, a retired teacher in Toppenish and Arlington who also owned a home inspection service and worked for FEMA, on April 23, 2020, in Green Valley, Arizona.

Gailen Ludtke - 1967

Gailen Ludtke, 77, a U.S. Army veteran and music teacher, on March 11, 2020.

John A. Summers - 1968

John A. Summers, 83, who taught science at Mount Vernon High School for 28 years and organized many student backpacking trips into the North Cascades, on Feb. 19, 2020, in Anacortes.

Ward J. Sondalle - 1968

Ward J. Sondalle, 92, a U.S. Army combat veteran and retired art teacher in Lynden, on Jan. 19, 2020, in Ripon, Wisconsin.

Paul Benedict Hallgrimson - 1968

Paul Benedict Hallgrimson, 74, on May 19, 2020, in Tenino.

Sam Lee Beesley - 1968

Sam Lee Beesley, 75, a longtime high school teacher and award-winning track and football coach in East Wenatchee and Federal Way, on April 22, 2020.

Martha Sharp - 1969

Martha Sharp, 73, a longtime teacher, coach and school counselor in Sequim, on Oct. 15, 2019.

Peggy B. Rundgren - 1969

Peggy B. Rundgren, 87, a retired Stanwood High School teacher, on March 28, 2020, in Mount Vernon.

James A. Smith - 1970

James A. Smith, 77, a U.S. Air Force veteran who worked as a plant training supervisor for Pacific Power and as a welding and drafting instructor at Centralia College, on Sept. 7, 2019, in Centralia.

Warren Pugh - 1970

Warren Pugh, 87, a U.S. Army veteran, a longtime teacher in the Lynden School District and an advocate of chess in the schools, on Feb. 16, 2020, in Logan, Utah.

Colleen Gayle (Geleynse) Martin - 1971

Colleen Gayle (Geleynse) Martin, 71, a longtime early childhood education teacher, on Jan. 31, 2020, in Maui.

Sandra Johnson - 1971

Sandra Johnson, 70, a retired elementary school teacher in Bellingham, on Jan. 21, 2020, in Bellingham.

Judy Smith - 1972

Judy Smith, 68, who taught special needs children and piano, and later worked in management at Horizon Airlines, Zellerbach, the city of Bellevue and World Vision. on Dec. 30, 2019.

Marnie Hargraves - 1972

Marnie Hargraves, 70, a retired social worker for Snohomish County, on Feb. 4, 2020.

John Michael “Mike” Elmer - 1973

John Michael “Mike” Elmer, 71, a retired school psychologist in the East Providence School District in Rhode Island, on Feb. 23, 2020.

Frank DeFreytas - 1973

Frank DeFreytas, 76, who ran a bed and breakfast in Bellingham, on Jan. 11, 2020.

Patricia Ann Sigler - 1976

Patricia Ann Sigler, 75, a retired elementary school teacher in Edmonds and Lake Stevens, on April 26, 2020, in Camano Island.

Lance Lee McIntyre - 1976

Lance Lee McIntyre, 75, a retired school psychologist, on Jan. 30, 2020, in Cañon City, Colorado.

Charles Arthur “Bud” Davis - 1976

Charles Arthur “Bud” Davis, 66, a longtime math, science and driver’s ed teacher and coach, on Feb. 11, 2020.

Richard Edwin VanCooten - 1977

Richard Edwin VanCooten, 78, a U.S. Army veteran and retired shop teacher who once restored a 1929 Ford coup and drove it over the Rocky Mountains, on April 10, 2020.

Georgie “Jean” Matthews - 1978

Georgie “Jean” Matthews, 77, retired director of the Human Services Department at Skagit Valley College, where she received a Teacher of the Year award and served as faculty union president, on Jan. 13, 2020, in Bellingham.

Kevin Marc Montgomery - 1979

Kevin Marc Montgomery, 62, a retired auditor for the state of Washington, on Oct. 7, 2019.

Joel Mark Fearn - 1979

Joel Mark Fearn, 63, on Nov. 11, 2019, in Friendship, Maine, where he had served as town clerk for 20 years.

Steven Terry Slavsky - 1980

Steven Terry Slavsky, 63, on Dec. 30, 2019.

Norma Irene (Longstreet) Morgan - 1981

Norma Irene (Longstreet) Morgan, 60, a retired elementary school teacher in Olympia, on Jan. 13, 2020.

Marian R. Young - 1982

Marian R. Young, 60, who worked for Human Life of Washington, the Archdiocese of Seattle, and Sacred Heart and St. Anne’s parishes, on Jan. 17, 2020.

Leon P. “Nick” Leonovich - 1983

Leon P. “Nick” Leonovich, 68, a retired real estate agent, on June 9, 2020, in Day Creek.

Jeanne Marie Brotherton - 1985

Jeanne Marie Brotherton, 71, on May 16, 2019, in Bellingham.

Kristine Ann Worland - 1986

Kristine Ann Worland, 57, a large systems project manager, on Aug. 6, 2020, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Kilty Peters - 1986

Kilty Peters, 63, a retired teacher in Barstow, California, on Dec. 19, 2020, in Murphys, California.

Clifford L. Gallanger - 1986

Clifford L. Gallanger, 86, who became an accountant after a career as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, on April 14, 2020.

Robin Rene Pappan - 1992

Robin Rene Pappan, 53, who taught and coached in Vancouver Public Schools for nearly 30 years and served as dean of students at McLoughlin Middle School, on May 21, 2020.

Trisha Faye Brand Lewis - 1992

Trisha Faye Brand Lewis, 51, an active children’s advocate who worked with Assumption School, the Opportunity Council, and Generations Early learn and Family Center in Bellingham, on April 30, 2020.

Thomas Patrick Walters - 1994

Thomas Patrick Walters, 50, who worked in the building supply industry, on Feb. 2, 2020, in Vancouver.

Stephen Thomas Hardie - 1996

Stephen Thomas Hardie, 46, on Feb. 10, 2019.

Susan J. Vaughn - 1999

Susan J. Vaughn, 52, who held leadership positions in Catholic Charities and Youth Care in the Seattle area, on Feb. 9, 2020, in Lake Stevens.

Keith Bloch - 2000

Keith Bloch, 62, a designer who worked in computer products and accessories and in the oil refining industry, on Dec. 18, 2020.

Casey Gunderson - 2004

Casey Gunderson, 36, who worked as a flight attendant and ran several businesses, on Feb. 14, 2020.

Iris Eileen Jones - 2006

Iris Eileen Jones, 88, an award-winning travel writer and former contributing editor for the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, on July 8, 2020, in Bellingham.

John Underwood - FAC

John Underwood, 75, professor emeritus of Spanish and Linguistics at Western, on Jan. 12, 2020.

Art Phinney - FAC

Art Phinney, a former softball coach at Western, who led the team to the first national team championship in school history, on July 15, 2019, in Vancouver, Washington. 

Trula Morehead Nicholas - FAC

Trula Morehead Nicholas, 65, an associate professor in Woodring’s Human Services Program, on Nov. 8, 2020, in Bellingham. Nicholas, ’85, B.A., ’87, M.S., psychology, was the co-recipient of Western’s Diversity Achievement Award.

Shaw Gynan - FAC

Shaw Gynan, 66, professor emeritus of Spanish and linguistics, on Oct. 28, 2020. He was a sociolinguist well-known for his work on bilingualism and language policy; he also became the preeminent scholar of Guaraní, a language of Paraguay.

Mary Rowland Robinson - ST

Mary Rowland Robinson, 92, who spent two decades at Western in leadership roles in Student Affairs, Continuing Education, Academic Administration and as associate vice president for Human Resources, on March 30, 2020 in North Carolina.

Bernice “Bonnie” Gertrude Marshall Ledray - ST

Bernice “Bonnie” Gertrude Marshall Ledray, 93, a 1971 graduate of Western who also worked as executive secretary to the president and as a records officer in Archives, on Feb. 4, 2020.

Paul “Chuck” Hart - ST

Paul “Chuck” Hart, 70, a WWU alumnus who recently retired as program manager for the Center for Canadian- American Studies, on Nov. 10, 2020, in Bellingham. During his 40-plus year career at Western, Hart also worked for University Residences, including time as a resident director and as a coordinator of conference housing.

Lyle “Gene” Abbott - ST

Lyle “Gene” Abbott, 82, a U.S. Army veteran who worked as a painter at Western for 25 years, on Dec. 2, 2019.