Dr. Richard and Mrs. Helen Weathermon
Helen Jensen arrived at Pacific Lutheran College in 1945 from her hometown of St. Helens, OR; Dick arrived a year later in 1946 after a year of service in the Marine Corps. Both were the first in their families to attend college. Dick was born in Hoquiam, WA, raised in Tacoma, WA, and graduated from Tacoma’s Lincoln High School. Initially football was the draw to PLC for Dick, having been told by friend Jack Proud (’52) that he thought Coach Clifford Olson would be happy to have Dick join the team. Dick did play football for both Coach Olson and for Marv Harshman, and he was inducted into the Pacific Lutheran University Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the 1947 Pear Bowl Team. But PLC became much more than football for Dick, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education with a minor in English (’50) and later returned to earn his Master of Arts in Education and English as well (’62). Helen meanwhile sang alto in Gunnar Malmin’s Choir of the West and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education (’49). Dick and Helen married in 1952 and raised two daughters. Their late daughter Kris attended PLU for one year and graduated from Washington State University. Daughter Karen graduated from PLU in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, received Master’s and PhD degrees from WSU, and is now the Director of First-Year Programs for WSU.
Dick has shared with the university: “Much of what has been good in my life can be connected back to PLC. At PLC I received my education and learned my vocation; met Helen, with whom I raised two wonderful daughters; and found my faith and was baptized. I have been loyal Lutheran and loyal Lute ever since.”
Dick and Helen both began teaching careers in the Aberdeen School District. After earning a Doctorate in Education from WSU, Dick became a public school superintendent, serving in the Pullman and Sumner school districts as well as the International School of Manila. He retired from the Sumner School District in 1985 and, living out his belief in the value of lifelong learning, enrolled in an oil painting class. He has been learning, perfecting, and selling his paintings of northwest landscapes ever since.
Following Helen’s death in 2001, Dick became a regular weekly volunteer in the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations, where he enjoyed the comradery of staff, students, and other alumni as they stuffed envelopes and made countless “Proud PLU Parent” buttons. He also was a regular at summer Jazz Under the Stars concerts on campus. In 2016 Dick moved to Pullman, WA, where he now lives with daughter Karen Weathermon and grandson Peter Richard Weathermon Smith.
This endowment recognizes Dick and Helen’s mutual love of jazz as well as their attachment to PLU. Dick relates that Helen was known to hide a radio under the covers in her room in Old Main (now Harstad Hall) so she could listen to Jimmy Lyon’s nightly midnight jazz broadcast from San Francisco. On the rare free Saturday night during football season at PLC, Dick and Helen might be found at the Washington Social and Educational Club in Seattle listening and dancing to jazz. During their courtship and 49 years of marriage, they attended concerts by Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Ray Brown, Buddy Rich, and Jazz at the Philharmonic, among others. While living in Manila for six years they were fans and supporters of Lito Molina and his “Jazz Friends,” and, returning to the United States in 1982, they became regular attendees at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho. While Dick, unlike Helen, had no musical training or experience, he is an avid listener. Both relished the “joyful noise” of jazz. The Weathermon family is very pleased now to share their love of jazz and of learning with new generations of high school and PLU students.