April 14, 2008
by Kandi Carper, EWU Marketing and Communications
What began as a scholarship fundraising dinner in 1982 has morphed into an entire weekend of annual events, making "Killin Weekend" an Eastern tradition. Now in its 27th year, the event has expanded to include not only a seafood/prime rib dinner, but an auction, dance with live music, the Red White football game, soccer scrimmage and golf tournament. But who is "Killin?"
Orland B. Killin was a widely-respected professor who taught at Eastern for 28 years. He was the director of EWU's Industrial Education and Technology Program. The annual event raises funds athletic scholarships.
Killin's daughter, Karen Wichman, who is the director of EWU Facilities Services, said her dad absolutely loved teaching and the Killin Scholarship, which is largely funded by staff and faculty, promotes the opportunity for a quality education that he wanted for all students.
"For dad, one of the things that was most important was to bring the best and brightest to campus. Bringing them would attract others." Wichman said that many students who have received the scholarships have proven themselves as students and beyond.
He attended elementary and secondary school in Cheney. After graduating from high school in 1939, Killin worked for a year before entering Washington State College (WSU) in Pullman. He took classes there for a year, before transferring to Eastern Washington College of Education (EWCE) in 1941. Eastern was always like "home" for Killin.
During WWII, Killin enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and was called up for active duty in the spring of 1943. Eleven days before the war ended, while clearing an enemy area on Okinawa, the Sherman tank he was commanding was hit. His gunner was killed and Killin and the other crew members were very seriously wounded. He spent the next 23 months in Naval hospitals.
In 1949, while convalescing on the west coast, Killin finished his sociology degree at the University of Washington. He earned his MEd from Oregon State College in 1953, the year he returned to Eastern as a faculty member. He taught courses in such diverse areas such as boat building, lapidary and furniture upholstery, in addition to the standard woods related courses.
"My students were kids, too young to remember the depression and not old enough to have served in the Army or Navy. They were part of a new carefree breed, full of optimism and energy," wrote Killin in The Centennial Album, An Illustrated History of Eastern Washington University. "Their philosophy was reflected in the growth and expansion of the campus."
Known as an effective and energetic teacher, he was always supportive of students and of intercollegiate sports. He served as the faculty advisor to the senior class in 1954/55, advisor to the Associated Students of EWCE, 1954-1957 and as the foreign student advisor from 1968-1974.
Wichman said some of her dad's former students told her years later that he had innovative ways to inspire them to get A's - he handed out $5 bills. "They really appreciated him and how he motivated and encouraged them," said Wichman.
Killin and his wife, Bernice, were also active supporters of public schools in Cheney and were very much involved in the civic life of their community.
Killin passed away Aug. 29, 1981. Following his death, Dr. Lloyd VandeBerg of the Industrial Arts Department led the faculty in forming the Orland B. Killin Academic Scholarship Fund. Bernice Killin and his faculty colleagues believed that an academic scholarship in his honor was a way of recognizing his high standards of scholarship, teaching, and community service.
After Bernice Killin's death, the scholarship was re-named the Orland and Bernice Killin Academic Scholarship Fund. Killin's son Donald is also employed at the University and his other daughter, Judy Killin, works for Spokane Public Libraries.