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In Memoriam

J. Russell "Russ" Larson

J. Russell "Russ" Larson, M.Ed., '51, associate professor emeritus of art, died March 2 at age 103. He was born in Seattle and graduated with an art degree from the University of Washington, where he met his wife, Joan (Osthoff), '59. During World War II, Russ worked as a patternmaker for Lake Washington Shipyards. He joined the Whitworth Art Department in 1947 and completed a master's degree in education four years later.

Across his 32 years at Whitworth, Russ taught nearly every art course Whitworth offered, including drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics and jewelry-making, and he taught art to education majors. During his long life he created many artworks, and he designed five churches and more than 300 homes throughout the Pacific Northwest. He also designed three remodels for Whitworth's art department as well as the interior of McEachran Hall.

"My father truly loved Whitworth, and he enjoyed teaching art to students for more than three decades," says his eldest son, Jay.

Russ is survived by his wife, Joan, his son Jay and daughter-in-law Karen, and his son Jan Shield, '67, and daughter-in-law Dee. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Noel Wescombe

Professor of Psychology Emeritus Noel Wescombe died Feb. 28 after a lengthy and courageous journey with brain cancer. His wife and daughters were at his side. He was 63 years old.

Noel was born and raised in California, and he earned a degree in biology from California Polytechnic State University. He earned a master's degree in child development at the University of California, Davis, and taught for several years before earning a Ph.D. in human development at U.C. Davis.

In 1994 the Wescombes relocated to Spokane, where Noel joined Whitworth's psychology department. He taught at Whitworth for more than 20 years, until illness forced his early retirement in 2015.

Noel was known as a technologically savvy and innovative teacher; his colleagues also knew him as a supportive mentor. He was an energetic advocate for psychology, serving his department several times as chairperson. His students knew his office door was always open to them, and that his lectures would be fresh and engaging.

"Noel really cared about student learning," says Noelle Wiersma, '90, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and a former psychology professor at Whitworth. "He was a great advocate of both the science and the art of psychology, and he understood how research and practice fit together to make a complete picture of the discipline and students' future vocations."

Noel actively integrated his deep faith into his professional life, and he continued to contribute to the spiritual development of many colleagues and friends by sharing how God supported him through the final stages of his illness.

Noel is survived by his wife, Cathie; daughters Meghan, '10, and Natalie, '13, and son-in-law, Chris Webber; brother, Glenn Wescombe; several sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law; three nieces and one nephew.