Alumni Create Endowment to Honor Professor Joe Davis

He took the reserved, small-town student under his wing, cared for him and gave him someone to look up to. His class on the Gospel of Mark opened the youth's eyes to God's intentions, and his guidance as a faculty advisor gave confidence and purpose to a young man on his way to a theology degree.

The caring mentor was former Seattle Pacific Professor of Religion Joe Davis, who died this summer at the age of 82. The young man is Bob Funk '62, who 36 years after graduation is owner and CEO of Express Personnel Services, a billion-dollar human resource service.

Funk is now contributing to the Joe Davis Scholarship Endowment in memory of a man he says was a rare teacher indeed. "Joe had the interests of his students at heart over the interests of his own career," says Funk. "He never knew just how many lives he touched." Funk was asked to participate in the endowment effort by Barry Solem '61. Solem says there were few students in the '50s, '60s and '70s who did not take a course from Davis, who taught at Seattle Pacific for 33 years. "He genuinely loved students and was always looking for ways to make the school more effective. The Davises helped establish the Alumni Association, and Joe was very involved in recruiting students. He also gave out $75 scholarships that at the time made a big difference for a lot of people."

For Solem, it is especially important to honor a "legend" like Davis with a named endowment. Participants at Casey Alumni Weekend last August felt the same. An impromptu offering was taken at morning devotions that seeded the endowment with $5,000 in cash, pledges and matching funds.

Danna Wilder Davis '39 says she received 248 cards and messages of sympathy upon her husband's death. Many were from former students expressing gratitude for Joe's role in helping them to choose lives of service. "He knew how important a few words of direction and encouragement could be in a young person's life," says Danna.

For information about donating to the Joe Davis Scholarship Endowment, call Gene Keene, planned giving director, at 206/281-2451.

Alumni Theatre Production Supports Scholarships

A group of alumni combined their passion for theatre and a spirit of giving in the October 14-17 production of Twelfth Night at Seattle Pacific University. The 20 graduates donated the proceeds from their production of William Shakespeare's comedy to a fund for SPU theatre scholarships.

The idea for an all-alumni production was sparked by what director Afarin Tehrani Morgan '93 calls "potluck productions": A small group of alumni were gathering in church basements, staging one-night productions in return for donations of canned food to benefit the hungry. The group was looking for a place to perform Twelfth Night when Morgan suggested having the play at SPU.

The alumni rehearsed and created the sets, props and costumes themselves while juggling other jobs and commitments. "It was a challenge to get people in the same place at the same time," says Esther Williamson '98, assistant director. Daniel Flint '95, who played both Malvolio and Orsino, used three weeks of his vacation to drive from Oregon to Seattle and participate.

"People gave freely of their time and resources," says Morgan. "It was our gift to the University."

Casey Weekend '98 Draws the Young Alum Contingent

Until you've engaged in applesauce wrestling or a tug o' war on plastic tarps slathered in dish soap, some recent Seattle Pacific University graduates would say you haven't really lived.

Young alums were out in force at this summer's Alumni Weekend at Camp Casey Conference Center August 21-23. Of the 228 people in attendance, graduates of the '90s were second in number only to alumni of the '50s.

"The woods, the water, the people -- it just doesn't get any better than that," says Seth Gary '97, a member of the SPU Young Alum Council. "Take the salmon mongers, for instance, a group of guys who come together to carry on a tradition that's older than I am. For 30 years, they've been barbecuing the salmon at Alumni Weekend!"

For Gary and other recent grads, it was an opportunity to meet some of the legends of the University that they'd only heard about. "I had an absolutely terrific time," says Jeff Judy '95, another member of the Young Alum Council. "It showed that the younger generation is able to create traditions associated with our time at SPU."

Favorites for all alumni were classes on four of the University Seminar topics that freshmen are exploring this quarter. Taught by faculty, the classes included "Redeeming the Media" with Rick Jackson; "Propaganda in the 20th Century" with Bill Purcell; "Seattle Arts Live" with Barbara Korner; and "The History and Physics of Baseball" with Jim Crichton and Bill Woodward.

"The Casey Committee headed by Betty Jo MacPhee '50 worked hard on this event," says Alumni Director Doug Taylor. "The whole thing was a great program. I don't know of any other event like it.

"Only at Casey Weekend, for instance, are you likely to witness a dramatic reading of 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by President Eaton accompanied on drums by Wes Denison '56."

Next year's Alumni Weekend '99 is set for August 20-22. "I'd definitely go again," reports Gary. "To see Doug Taylor with applesauce from hair to toe is a kick in the pants!"

Homecoming is Right Around the Corner!

Looking ahead? The 1999 Homecoming celebration at Seattle Pacific University is scheduled for January 28-30. The big weekend will feature all your Homecoming favorites such as basketball competition, the crowning of Homecoming royalty and the student talent show. Other highlights will be a president's luncheon for alumni, a theatre production of Thornton Wilder's Skin of Our Teeth, and the presentation of the 1999 Alumnus of the Year award.

For many alumni, a special focus of the weekend will be class reunions. Volunteers are busy planning special gatherings for the classes of 1954, 1959, 1964, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989 and 1994. (The 50-year reunion of the Class of 1949 will be held in the spring.)

For more information about Homecoming 1999, call the Alumni Center at 206/281-ALUM.

The Growing SPU Family Tree

With each passing generation, Seattle Pacific University welcomes a substantial number of students who can trace long family histories at the institution. Max Watson, who graduated this past spring, stakes claim to one of the longest. He can follow his lineage back to the 1920s, when his great-grandfather, C. Hoyt Watson, became the third president of what was then Seattle Pacific College.

It takes a complex chart to identify every person from Watson's family who has attended Seattle Pacific, and he did part of that work last spring at a special reception hosted by the Alumni Center. Given a drawing of a family tree, students were invited to use the resources of the Center -- including yearbooks that go back to 1909 -- to discover how far back their roots go. Watson's went the furthest.

Scores of his aunts and uncles, as well as his parents and grandparents, walked the campus before him. While that might seem intimidating to some young people, he reveled in it. "I guess I felt blessed. There was pride in having so much family history here. It was a cool thing, like the building named after my great-grandfather." That building is the Watson half of Marston-Watson Hall.

Like many students, Max Watson's SPU connections come from both sides of the family. His grandfather, Lyle Watson '34, attended SPC and met and married his wife, Elsie Parmenter Watson '35, here. All five of their children graduated from Seattle Pacific, including the future father of Max: Larry Watson '68. Max's mother is Carolyn Rosser Watson '68, the daughter of Phoebe Peterson Rosser '42 and Paul Rosser '40, who taught at Seattle Pacific from 1948 to 1978.

Attending SPU was Max's choice but, of course, his family was pleased. "My grandparents were ecstatic about that," he says. Max's older brothers, Nathan and Peter, are also Seattle Pacific alumni.

The Alumni Center plans another reception in the spring to explore family trees with students. In the meantime, if you're curious about your own family tree, you're welcome to stop by the Center and pore over the books.

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