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Auvil Estate Gift Benefits WSU, WVC

PULLMAN, Wash. – An estate gift of more than $2.9 million from Wenatchee tree fruit leaders Grady and Lillie Auvil will fund scholarships and research at Washington State University and Wenatchee Valley College.

Several children, grandchildren, and other members of the Auvil family celebrated the gift with Dan Bernardo, Dean of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, WVC President Jim Richardson, and Jay Brunner, director of the WSU Wenatchee Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, at a dinner on the WVC campus, Thursday, Dec. 14.

Also attending were representatives from the Washington Apple Education Foundation, which will distribute the funds held in an endowment.

“This generous gift demonstrates the Auvils’ truly visionary commitment to excellence in the state’s important tree fruit industry and to the education of tomorrow’s leaders,” Bernardo said.

Representatives from WSU presented the Auvil family with a Laureate Medallion in recognition of the family’s support of WSU.

At WSU, the Auvil family gift will support development and operations of a new research orchard and graduate education at the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee. The center is well situated to meet the immediate and future needs of Washington’s fruit industry while solving complex biological and ecological issues in agricultural production and environmental stewardship. The gift will be distributed to support these programs from an endowment at the Washington Apple Education Foundation in Wenatchee. The total gift to WSU tops $1.18 million.

An endowment has also been created for the Auvils’ gift to Wenatchee Valley College to further the development and support of its agriculture programs, which include tree fruit production, tree fruit management, integrated pest management, sustainable organic fruit production and the Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Program.

The Auvils’ gift will also support undergraduate research and scholarships at WSU and strengthen the University’s commitment to offer the best undergraduate experience in a research university. According to David Bahr, director of Undergraduate Research at WSU, as many as 25 percent of WSU’s undergraduates actively participate in research. His goal is to increase that percentage and ensure students across all majors have access to meaningful research.

“The possibilities for undergraduate research are endless, and the Auvil gift will bring numerous opportunities to undergraduates and the faculty that teach them,” said Bahr.

Founder of the Auvil Fruit Company and long-time leader in Washington’s tree fruit industry, Grady Auvil served as president of the Washington State Horticulture Association and was the first chairman of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.

Wenatchee Valley College President Richardson noted that the Auvil Family­starting with tree-fruit pioneers Grady and Lillie­has supported the College’s tree fruit production program for nearly 25 years.

“Along with the family’s generous financial support, the College has greatly benefited from the Auvils’ ideas and leadership,” said Richardson.

In the early 1980s, Grady Auvil was a founding advisory committee member of the Wenatchee Valley College Tree Fruit Program. He helped guide the College in the development of its teaching and demonstration orchards, and helped the College see the value and necessity of developing a strong tree fruit program with an emphasis on applied academics. Grady assisted with the development of WVC’s fully articulated tree fruit program with Washington State University, offering a bachelor of science in tree fruit management. The contributions made by the Auvils helped the WVC program win state and national recognition.

“This generous gift will allow the Auvil legacy of supporting agriculture education at Wenatchee Valley College to continue well into the future,” Richardson said.

Remembered as an industry pioneer in adopting new varieties of tree fruits and planting systems, Auvil once said, “I believe everyone has an obligation to try to improve the future of people. Education and research are the only way.” He lived this philosophy and contributed generously to WSU research conducted in Pullman and Wenatchee.

“We’re very proud that our parents had the vision and means to generously support research at two outstanding institutions, both of which have strong ties to our community,” said Grady and Lillie’s son, John Auvil.

Grady Auvil received numerous awards for his lifetime of contributions to the industry including an honorary degree from WVC­one of only two in the history of the college, 1995; the American Fruit Grower, Grower of the Year Award, 1990; Wenatchee Apple Blossom Festival Association Outstanding Citizen Award, 1981; and the prestigious Centennial Medallion Award from WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resources Sciences for support of agricultural research, 1976. This short list highlights only a few of Auvil’s many recognitions.