For Northwest broadcast president, success began as student news anchor

By Ashlee Parnell '09
Ray Heacox, ’76, realizes today the value of his PLU education. “I loved college so much, in general,” Heacox said, “that I’d say it’s the only part of life worth going back to.”

As president and general manager of the Seattle-Tacoma market for Belo Corp., Heacox oversees television stations and cable news operations in the Northwest region including KING-5 TV, KONG TV and Northwest Cable News, all based in Seattle, as well as operations in Spokane, Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho.

Heacox began his media career by selling radio advertising in Portland, Ore., after graduation. Then he moved on to selling television advertising. Over more than 30 years, Heacox has made six coast-to-coast moves, finally settling into his current position in Seattle nearly two years ago.

Heacox also worked in higher education, serving as director of the graduate television management program at Drexel University in Philadelphia prior to joining Belo. While at Drexel, Heacox launched a two-year curriculum consisting of communications, media studies and business.

Heacox credits his career successes to his PLU experiences. 

“Overall, a liberal arts education lent itself to getting into the TV business,” Heacox said.

During his years at PLU, Heacox was active with the student television station, KCNS, for which he anchored news shows and participated in “Saturday Night Live”-type programs. 

“There’s no way to do what I’m doing without my PLU education,” Heacox said.

A mother’s grief helps others in need

By Sabrina L. Coady ’08
When she began what would become a full-time crusade, Sarah Slack ’95 simply wanted to raise money for her infant son’s grave marker. But that modest effort soon led to the formation of the TEARS Foundation, a Tacoma-based organization that helps families who have lost babies.

Sarah Slack with her two daughters, Jayda and Jaycee Slack.

Slack founded TEARS in 2002. The non-profit organization aids bereaved parents with financial expenses associated with making final arrangements for babies who have died. 

“We cannot take any of the pain away from families,” Slack said. “But we can lift a financial burden for them by providing funds to assist with the cost of burial or cremation services, and allow them more options when they make the final arrangements for their baby.”

The creation of TEARS resulted from personal hardship. On Nov. 13, 2000, Slack and her husband, Sanford Slack, heard the words that still haunt them: “There is no heartbeat.”

“My world crashed, my baby was dead,” Sarah Slack said.

The financial burden of funeral expenses meant that for a year, Sarah and Sanford had to leave their child’s grave without a headstone.

“I remember visiting the cemetery and everything was still fresh: my emotions, the cold air, the fresh dirt around the grave and just a number for where my son is buried,” she said. 

She placed a newspaper ad that read, “yard sale to help pay for my son’s marker.” At the conclusion of that sale, Sarah Slack raised enough money to purchase a $600 headstone.

Today, nearly six years later, she works to help other grieving families.

“When I hear of the loss of a precious little baby,” she said, “there are no words to be found. Only tears.” 

Squires brings EMAL to Canadian football

By Breanne Coats '08
For Scott Squires ’88, playing on PLU’s 1987 championship football team was a major score, but it was only the first of many.

Scott Squires ’88

After graduating, Squires drew on his experience to help guide him to successful coaching stints at the college level, working at several schools across the United States.

However, Squires wanted to go long, which landed him his current job as special teams coach for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

“It’s an awesome challenge for me,” Squires said. “There are some ideas about character and work ethic I got from PLU.”

In the CFL, Squires has had to learn the differences between American and Canadian-style football, one of which is having 12 players on the field as opposed to 11. Yet, the reasons Squires loves the game remain the same.

“I like the camaraderie,” Squires said. “Every week there’s a goal. I want to do a really good job.”

One downside to coaching in Canada is that it has temporarily separated Squires from his family: wife, Sherith (Lundring ’88) Squires and their three children. But Squires says telephones and the Internet help him stay in touch.

Squires has also had to adjust to no longer being a head coach. Prior to the Eskimos, he was head coach of California Lutheran University, which at times made him one of PLU’s competitors.

But Squires has remained true to his EMAL (Every Man A Lute) background by getting together at least once a year with former PLU teammates.

Squires, who has scored many points in his professional and personal life, gives much of the credit to his time in Parkland.

“I’m just grateful for my experience there,” Squires said. “I’m proud I went to PLU.”

Photo top: Ray Heacox '76.