Watterson Family honored as 2021 Distinguished Alumni
For the first time in award history, a family has been named the recipient of the annual Distinguished Alumni Award from the Centralia College Foundation. All four Watterson siblings – Ed, Bill, Marilyn, and Jim – attended Centralia College and have gone on to build strong careers and a legacy of service and community.
“I think because of the pandemic of 2020, I have been challenged to think more locally,” said John Klumper, vice president of the CC Foundation and a member of the Distinguished Alumni selection committee. “The Watterson family exemplifies exactly how I’m thinking. They’re very much into family and community, and doing great things for others. I am very excited for the Watterson family to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award this year.”
Clarence and Doris Watterson raised their four children on a dairy farm in the Salzer Valley in Centralia. Doris especially instilled in her children the importance of education, and all four children graduated from Centralia High School and attended Centralia College.
The children all worked on the dairy as kids and paid their way through college. The three boys ended up in construction. Ed Watterson (CC Class of 1955) has been a superintendent at Schwiesow Construction since 1979 and had his hands on much of the Centralia College campus, heading the construction of the Kirk Library, Aadland Esplanade, clocktower, Washington Hall, Technology Building, and Walton Science Center. Bill Watterson (CC Class of 1961) was a basketball standout, who went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and start one of the largest construction companies in Alaska, Watterson Construction. Jim Watterson (CC Class of 1973) earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Washington and worked all over the west before joining Watterson Construction in 1989. He moved to Alaska in 2006 and is now company president.
Marilyn Watterson Weinstein broke ground in a different way. After graduating from Centralia College in 1963, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from Washington State University and went on to be a pioneer in business education, teaching computers and eventually designing and implementing custom software systems, primarily for companies in the biomedical field.
As individuals, each of the Watterson children has exemplified the Trailblazer spirit through hard work, commitment to service and community, grit, and dedication to family. As a family, they really stand out.
“The Watterson family of alumni are uniquely special among Centralia College families due to their varied significant contributions individually to their professions and communities in such a widespread way throughout the U.S. Yet, as a group, they still choose to recognize and remember their roots at Centralia College, said Renee Lawson, who has served on the selection committee for eight of the last 13 years. “The family establishing an endowed scholarship in memory of their parents, Clarence and Doris Watterson, is a heartwarming example of that.”
The Wattersons will be honored as individuals throughout the year in the Centralia College Foundation’s quarterly Blazer Bulletin magazine and will be honored as a family as part of the 2021 commencement celebration.