WSU Vancouver honors Dan and Val Ogden

Vancouver couple receive award for their contributions to the community

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

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Cougar blood runs deep in the Ogden family.

Three generations of the prominent Vancouver family have graduated from the Washington State University Pullman campus, and the Ogdens helped to bring the branch campus to Vancouver in 1989.

So when WSU Vancouver gave the Community Award of Distinction for Community Partnership to Val and Dan Ogden at a recognition dinner this week, it was a special honor for the couple, Val Ogden said.

"We're very proud," she said. "We felt greatly honored. It's doubly important to us because it comes from a university that we're very proud of."

Val Ogden pushed hard for the opening of the campus while serving in the State House of Representatives for 12 years, she said.

"It's such a godsend to have it here; it met such a need," Val Ogden said. "The site is stunning and the campus keeps growing. We are drawing people to come to Vancouver."

The couple established the first graduate-level endowed scholarship at the Vancouver campus. And Val Ogden championed the creation of school vanity license plates with fees to support other scholarships throughout the university system.

Ask her how many family members have an association with the school, and she can quickly rattle them off.

Val Ogden, 88, graduated in 1946. Dan Ogden, 90, graduated in 1944. Two of the couple's three children, Patty Hunter and Jan Martin, and the couple's granddaughter, Hillary Hunter Zehr, and grandson, Chris Ogden, are also graduates. And that's not all, she said.

"My father had a short term there in Pullman before he went in the Army in World War I," she said. "And Dan's mother went to summer school there."

Dan Ogden has held several

positions in government agencies, including the Department of the Interior and Department of Energy. He also served as local chairman of the Democratic Party and taught at WSU Pullman for a time.

Besides working in the state Legislature, Val Ogden worked with numerous nonprofits, including the YWCA, Campfire Girls of America and the Southwest Washington Center for the Arts.

They were selected for the community partnership award "for a million gazillion contributions to the community," said Brenda Alling, a spokeswoman for WSU Vancouver. "They have lived lives of community service."

The award was established in 2009 by Chancellor Emeritus H.A. Dengerink to honor individuals or organizations that have made a significant impact on the community.

"The Ogdens are very much a WSU family," Alling said. "They're amazing. I grew up in this community, and they're pillars. They've been instrumental in so many things."

Sue Vorenberg: 360-735-4457; http://www.twitter.com/col_suevo;sue.vorenberg@columbian.com.