Class Notes

Whitman College is pleased to highlight the accomplishments and updates of our alumni. Submissions to Class Notes are limited to 50 words. Updates should highlight news from the past calendar year and may include career updates; publications; honors, awards or appointments; or other significant life changes you’d like to share with the Whittie community. Send your submission to:

Mail: Whitman College, Office of Alumni Relations, 345 Boyer Ave., Walla Walla, WA 99362

*All submissions will be edited for content, length and style.


Maria Weissenberg Barrows ’47 celebrated her 92nd birthday in San Luis Obispo, California.


Whitman College Class Notes Bob Valentine ’50

Bob Valentine ’50 has been walking 3 miles a day for several decades. In 1997, he reached his 25,000 on the Golden Gate Bridge. His goal is to reach 50,000 miles.


Julie Rietmann Frink ’61 has been volunteering for the avocado variety collection of the South Coast Research and Extension Center, part of the University of California’s division of agriculture and natural resources in Irvine.

Kyra Dodge MacIlveen ’61 of Portland, Oregon, has been traveling. Last year, she took a European trip, visiting Amsterdam, Switzerland and The Netherlands. She also recently visited several national and state parks in Utah.

Sharon Zlatnik Van Valin ’62 of Mercer Island, Washington, spent the past year giving piano masterclass programs and workshops and adjudicating contests through-out Washington.

Jeanne Hansen ’64 earned her doctorate in musicology and ethnomusicology from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, in December 2017.

Larry Rector ’65 of Salem, Oregon, published an online retrospective of his Peace Corps service in Chile, 1965-68. See photos and essays at

Gordon Tobin ’65 received the 2017 Ephraim McDowell Physician of the Year award. He participated in the world’s first successful hand transplants in 1999. Tobin has been on the faculty at the University of Louisville School of Medicine since 1978. In 2008, he was named a Whitman College Alumnus of Merit.

Kay Tai Hodge ’69 was selected by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to oversee an investigation of sexism in the Boston Fire Department.

Heather Davies McCarty ’69 is a fisheries consultant in Juneau, Alaska. Her husband is Jim Balsiger.


Lesley Johnson Farmer ’71 manages the California State University, Long Beach information and communication technology literacy project and teaches school librarians.

Jan Salisbury ’72 is currently leading two Vistage Peer Advisory boards of CEOs and key executives through her coaching business, Salisbury Consulting, in Boise, Idaho. Her husband, John Connors, teaches English as a foreign language.

Terry Abeyta ’73 was named the 2018 Distinguished Alum-nus of Yakima Valley. Born and raised in Yakima, Abeyta attended Yakima Valley College from 1969-1971, then transferred to Whitman. He has been a personal injury lawyer in the Y-kima Valley since 1978. Abeyta is a Whitman Overseer Emeritus.

John R. Stegner ’77 was appointed to the Idaho Supreme Court. He has served as Latah County 2nd District Court judge since 1997.

Sue Corbett Miller ’79 re-entered the workforce in 2007 after staying home to help raise five children. She initially was a paraeducator for Portland (Oregon) Public Schools. Miller then became a mortgage loan specialist and found a position with IBM.


Stan Perkins ’81 received the 2017 APEX award for Legal Innovation from the Washington State Bar Association. Perkins has directed the Seattle University Law School Incubator program since 2013. The program mentors new attorneys and matches them with clients of moderate means.

Scott Starratt ’81 of Albany, California, is chair of the limnogeology division for the U.S. Geological Survey (GSA) in Menlo Park, California, and is unraveling the climate history of the northeastern Pacific Ocean. He completed a two-volume collection of international lake research papers.

Lucy Peckham ’83 was awarded one of 25 Individual Artist Awards by the Rasmuson Foundation of Alaska. Peckham is a sound designer for music and theater performance.

Jeff Hodson ’84 was named di-rector of communications at the University of Washington School of Public Health. He spent 13 years in Southeast Asia as a journalism trainer and media development specialist.

Tom Johnston ’85 readied the Alpine racecourse at the PyeongChang Olympics in South Korea. As chief of race for ski events for the 2018 Winter Olympics, he visited the course seven times over two years. Johnston is a cattle rancher in Wyoming but was a competitive skier through high school and his time at Whitman. Johnston oversaw the women’s course at the Sochi Games in 2014 in Russia.

Ken Judy ’88 was named chief operating officer for Stride Consulting, a leading agile software consultancy comprised of non-dogmatic developers, product managers, coaches and designers in New York City.


Ransom Bailey ’94 was appointed a magistrate judge in Ada County, Idaho. Previously, he was a trial attorney with the Ada County Public Defender’s Office.

John Cunnison ’95 was appointed vice president and chief investment officer at Baker Boyer Bank in Walla Walla. He joined Baker Boyer in 2006. Cunnison lives in Walla Walla with his wife, ’Brielle Baker Cunnison ’95, and their two children.

Whitman College Class Notes Brenda Crider Rufener ’95

Brenda Crider Rufener ’95 published her debut novel, “Where I Live,” (HarperTeen, 2018). She weaves themes of poverty, grief and adversity with love, hope and compassion in the first-person coming-of-age tale. Rufener lives in North Carolina with her family and is an advocate for homeless youth.

Vasilli “Billy” Alafogiannis ’96 moved to Guatemala City in July to take over as the senior regional security officer for the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. He has worked for the State Department for nearly 17 years.

Mark Beaman ’97 moved his family to Maui, Hawaii, to make wine at MauiWine, the largest winery in the Hawaiian Islands.

Whitman College Class Notes Jason Colby ’97

Jason Colby ’97, associate professor of environmental and international history at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, draws on interviews, official records, private archives and his own family history in his new book “Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the Ocean’s Greatest Predator” (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Whitman College Class Notes Ben Walker ’98

Ben Walker ’98 was named 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year at a surprise schoolwide assembly. Walker has been teaching seventh-grade science at Romig Middle School in Anchorage, Alaska, since 2006. Walker strives to make science exciting, weaving hands-on activities into lessons.

Laura Burlingame-Lee ’98 has accepted a new position as a clinical psychologist at St. Alphonsus Rehabilitation Services in Boise, Idaho, where she is working to help patients with brain injuries recover and adapt to life changes as a result of their injuries.


Holly Brooks ’04, a former two-time Olympian on the U.S. ski team, was inducted into the 2018 Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. She earned seven top 10 World Cup finishes and two national championships.

Whitman College Class Notes Brian ’08 and Rand Biersdorff Cutter ’08

Brian ’08 and Rand Biersdorff Cutter ’08 were reunited with Keefe Piper ’09 in South Bend, Indiana. Piper attended a theology workshop at Notre Dame, where Brian has been a faculty member since 2016.


Nate Ord ’12 received the Xavier Engle Spirit Award from the WWAMI Medical Education Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He will go on to clerkship rotations at clinics and hospitals throughout the Northwest.

Whitman College Class Notes Nina Neff ’12

Nina Neff ’12 began law school at University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison. She serves as the coordinator of the Veterans Law Center, a mobile legal clinic that offers pro-bono services to veterans and their families, and has accepted the 2018 Diversity Fellowship summer associate position with Stoel Rives in Portland.

Robby Seager ’13 has lived in France since 2014, performing music for private events around the world. Search @themonarchsband on Instagram to follow along.

Rachel Quednau ’13 was accepted to Harvard Divinity School and will begin a Master of Theological Studies program, focusing on interfaith peace and relationship-building.

Aviva Prager ’14 went on a Sacred Trek with the Breast Cancer Fund last summer to Italy and hiked around the Dolomite Mountains.

Whitman College Class Notes Arianne Lozano ’16, Alex Hardesty ’17, Claire Revere ’18 and Alissa Soo ’18

Arianne Lozano ’16, Alex Hardesty ’17, Claire Revere ’18 and Alissa Soo ’18 won first place at the World Flying Disc Federation’s World Under-24 Ultimate Champion-ships in Perth, Australia, as members of the U.S. mixed men and women team.