George Studle is a 50-plus year donor to WSU and the Carson College.

George Studle Reflects on 50 Years of Giving

By Becky Kramer

George Studle in a 1950s yearbook photo for a national service fraternity.

George Studle made his first gift to Washington State University in 1968.

The memory of writing that particular $25 check has blurred for the 86-year-old alumnus, superseded by more than 50 years of regular contributions to WSU and the Carson College of Business.

But with that first gift, Studle says he was acting on advice of WSU professors and staff members who took an interest in him during a pivotal time in his life.

Studle (’57 Hotel & Rest. Admin.) arrived on campus as a first-generation college student who had recently lost his parents. At WSU, he formed the friendships and built the professional relationships that helped a young man on his own find his place in the world.

“I was a teenage orphan with no brothers or sisters,” Studle says. “During that time, I was helped by people who encouraged me to give back, when I could, to help other students.”

Studle has given more than $50,000 to WSU and the Carson College, and he’s also leaving an additional gift to the college through his estate. He was recently recognized by the WSU Foundation for being a Diamond Donor, a select group of just under 200 alumni honored for 50 years of giving to WSU.

“George’s example is a good one for all WSU grads to consider,” says Jeff Pilcher, the college’s director of philanthropic engagement. “He started giving back not that long after graduation, sharing his success with the next generation of students.”

“I’m not a celebrity with lots of money,” says Studle, who spent most of his career in sales. “I gave based on my income. But as time moved along, the money has added up for helping students.”

The Path to WSU

Studle’s path to WSU started in Bremerton, where he grew up as the only child of Norwegian immigrant parents.

Tragedy struck Studle’s family when he was in his early teens. His mother died of pneumonia shortly before penicillin became a widely available treatment in the United States.

A year later, his grieving father took Studle out of school for three months to visit relatives in Norway. Despite the circumstances, it was an exciting trip for Studle.

The big, bustling hotels that the father and son stayed at in New York, Bergen, and Oslo fascinated Studle, who was taking business classes in high school. By the end of the trip, he had a budding interest in hotel management.

“The hotels were cities within a city,” he says. “There was so much excitement with travelers coming and going.”

Within a few years, another loss rocked Studle’s world when his father died unexpectedly. By age 17, Studle had lost both of his parents.

Studies, Work, and Fun

George Studle’s fraternity, Delta Upsilon, pictured in the 1950s.

Studle chose to attend WSU because of its nationally ranked hotel and restaurant management program.

During his college years, he worked as the assistant house manager at his fraternity, Delta Upsilon, to help pay for his schooling. Once a week, Studle also took the swing shift at the former Hotel Washington in Pullman. For fun, he played on an intramural basketball team.

After his sophomore year, Studle was drafted for military duty. During the waning years of the Korean War, he was stationed at six different U.S. Army posts, including a stint at Fort Lewis, where he attended cooking school.

“Working 16-hour days and cooking for 98 people was good training for the hospitality industry,” Studle says. After his discharge, he used the GI Bill to finish his degree.

A Legacy of Helping

Job opportunities in California beckoned to the new graduate. Early in his career, Studle worked at the Fairmont Hotel, a swanky property on San Francisco’s Nob Hill, and a private Lake Tahoe resort where industrialist Henry Kaiser entertained business associates.

Studle had a gift for sales, which eventually took him to jobs in hotel convention sales, the insurance industry, and finally residential real estate, where he still works.

“George loves working with people,” Pilcher says. “I think his education in hospitality at WSU helped emphasize the value of customer service and customer-driven relationships.”

Studle encourages young people to start making decisions in high school about a future career. Seek out job opportunities in college that will give you experience in your field, he advises.

And when you’ve had some financial success, lend a hand to the students following you, he says.

That’s a legacy Studle is proud to have. “I’ll have done my part to help,” he says.