PULLMAN, Wash. — The world has turned a few times since Leonard and Edna Young moved to Pullman in the midst of the Great Depression. Time and progress have transformed both the community they moved to and the college where Leonard worked for 34 years and Edna for eight.
What hasn’t changed is their commitment to education and community. With a gift of $100,000, the Youngs have established the Leonard W. and Edna L. Young Endowed Scholarship Fund at Washington State University. The endowment will fund scholarships in the College of Agriculture and Home Economics for outstanding incoming freshman and juniors and seniors majoring in agriculture.
“The Young’s have supported the college and the university with their gifts for more than 30 years,” said James J. Zuiches, dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. “This generous gift is an investment in tomorrow’s scholars.”
Leonard came to Pullman in 1936 from Pine Bluffs, Wyo., to become assistant to the dean of the College of Agriculture at the State College of Washington.
“Dean Edward C. Johnson of the College of Ag was looking for a male secretary for the college,” Young said. “He got in contact with teachers all over the country. My sister was a professor at Montana State College and she thought of me, so I applied.” He was hired, sight unseen. At the time, the Greeley, Colo., native was teaching business classes at Pine Bluffs High. The following year he brought Edna after the couple was married in her hometown of Algonquin, Ill. Their honeymoon was a seven-day trip to Pullman.
They had met at Pine Bluffs High two years earlier where she was on the faculty teaching Spanish and English.
The State College of Washington, as WSU was then known, had about 4,000 students when they moved here, Leonard recalls. The town had maybe 3,000 people.
Unlike today, finding a place to park on campus wasn’t too challenging because there were only two student-owned cars and just two college-owned vehicles. “One was the fire department truck and the other one was a pickup truck that John Carver, chairman of poultry, had purchased out of grant funds,” Leonard recalls.
“Otherwise, everything was done with horses — all the plowing, the harvesting. There were no other vehicles, except one or two that students drove. Of course all of the farmers around here were mechanized, but WSC wasn’t.”
After World War II, Leonard was director of Civil Defense on campus. Among other things, he was in charge of stockpiling enough supplies and food on campus to feed 40,000 people for two weeks in case it ever became necessary to evacuate people from the town and nearby area.
During his career, Young served on several positions in the College of Agriculture, including experiment station editor. From 1949 until his retirement in 1968 he was assistant to the director of agricultural research.
Leonard’s experience as a news reporter before going into teaching proved valuable when the research center needed to convince elected officials and agricultural groups that scientists needed to modernize equipment and upgrade facilities all over the state. With words and pictures, he documented that need and helped secure funding from the state and federal government and grants from farm organizations.
His history of WSU’s Agricultural Experiment Station, issued in 1965 on the 75th anniversary of the station, continues to be a valuable resource on the accomplishments of WSU’s agricultural researchers.
His early color movie film of farmers harvesting wheat with horse- drawn combines was displayed at the World’s Fair in Vancouver, B.C.
Leonard is a 50-year member of Kiwanis, past president of the Pullman Memorial Hospital Foundation, and a 70-year member of Pi Kappa Alpha. He also served as a director and later president of the Pullman Community Concert Association.
“It meant that Edna and I went up and down the streets selling concert tickets in the spring,” Leonard quipped.
After he retired from WSU, the Whitman county commissioners asked him to serve as civil defense director for the county. It was a part-time job for about five years.
Edna worked in the Registrars Office from 1957-1965. She is a 50- year member of Alpha Phi and has served as a long-time volunteer at Pullman Memorial Hospital and worked with a Camp Fire unit. The Youngs are members of the Community Congregational United Church of Christ in Pullman, where they served on boards and committees.
Edna and Leonard have given strong support to Pullman’s hospital, library, symphony, community theater and Gladish Community Center. They are remembered for their attendance at many community and campus events.
The couple has traveled extensively, visiting 44 countries.
They have one daughter, Barbara Young Grutzmacher, who resides in Pullman with her husband, Charles, two grandchildren and one great- granddaughter.
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