On Oct. 26 the Hickenbottom family was presented with the Legacy Family of the Year Award by the Western Washington University Alumni Association. Adding to the honor is the fact that this is the first time the association has given such an award. The Hickenbottoms were chosen by their peers in the WWU Alumni Association to be “distinguished and deserving of recognition at the highest level.”
Ed Hickenbottom, father of 30 year Okanogan Valley resident, Gary Hickenbottom, was the first of the family to attend WWU in 1941. Gary’s mother, Patsy, is also a WWU alumnus. Gary started attending WWU in 1968. But the legacy doesn’t end there. Numerous family members have attended the school throughout the years in every decade since the 40’s.
Gary and wife Kathy Boland’s children, both graduates of Tonasket High School, went on to graduate WWU in 2007. Daughter Lily, who graduated Tonasket High in 2000, received a degree in environmental education. She is putting her degree to immediate use working as an interpretive park ranger for North Cascades National Park. Son Dana, a 2003 graduate of Tonasket High, completed a double major in recreation and communication graduating magna cum laude.
Altogether 24 Hickenbottoms have attended WWU. 14 of the Hickenbottom alumni were able to attend the ceremonies and including guests and spouses, 26 Hickenbottoms came to celebrate the honor bestowed upon the family.
After a campus tour, tea with WWU President Karen W. Morse, a media interview and a family portrait; the Hickenbottoms were honored at an awards dinner. They were presented the Legacy Family of the Year award in the company of numerous alumni by the WWU President. The family in turn presented the Alumni President with a check for $2200 to go toward the WWU scholarship fund.
“It was a great moment for our family,” said Gary. “My Dad would have been really proud.”