Every year three to five alumni from the honor years are selected to receive the Alumni of the Year award. Recipients of this honor are recognized for outstanding or unusual contributions in the areas of Community Service, Church Service, and/or Professional Service. The honoree's character and work reflects Walla Walla University's core values: Excellence in Thought, Generosity in Service, Beauty in Expression, and Faith in God. The award is presented at Alumni Homecoming Banquet. Submit a nomination to be considered during the selection process.
Meet the Alumni of the Year 2019, honored for service and achievement that embody the spirit of their alma mater.
Gary N. Curtis is an engineer whose work has included structural design for the Space Needle and the award-winning Queen’s Way Bridge in Long Beach, California. He has done structural engineering for schools and churches, forensic studies of the collapse of tall towers, and analysis of geodesic domes, including the dome at the South Pole and the dome over the Spruce Goose. In a joint venture with a group of his engineering colleagues, Curtis started a company called Gossamer Space Frames. That group has designed a pedestrian bridge over a freeway in Long Beach and has developed two aluminum tubular joint systems that are in use for approximately 50,000 large frames for power plants in Nevada, Florida, and Spain. Curtis designed and built a fold-up steel sailboat that he lived on for several years and sailed in Mexico and Washington state. He has traveled around the world and enjoys sailing, cycling, hiking, and fishing with his children, Margo and Gart ’88, and their families.
Dick and Anita (Dietrich) Molstead have devoted their careers to Seventh-day Adventist education. Dick spent 15 years as an aerospace engineer while Anita taught at Seattle Junior Academy, Miramonte Christian School, and Sandpoint Junior Academy. After Dick completed a teacher certification program, he accepted a position as teacher and principal at Sandpoint Junior Academy. He became principal at Portland Adventist Academy in 1986 while Anita taught junior high at Meadow Glade School. Anita and Dick both worked as associate superintendents of education for the Oregon Conference, Anita starting in 1989 and Dick in 1992. In 1998, Dick became superintendent of education for the same conference. Since retirement, the Molsteads have served in various educational positions across the country. They have recently focused on growing funding for a foundation they established following the death of their son, Eric att., in a plane crash in 2005. The Eric Molstead Memorial Scholarships assist women interested in mathematics and science who are attending Upper Columbia Academy. The Molsteads daughter, Michelle ’90, works for a nonprofit bike-share program in Minneapolis and provides marketing assistance for the foundation. In 2017 the Molsteads returned to Idaho where they volunteer at Lake City Academy and North Idaho College.
Cassie Ragenovich is the director of Student Financial Services at Walla Walla University. In the 44 years she has worked in that office she has helped countless students determine how they would fund a Christian college education at WWU. Ragenovich is quick to give all the credit to God for His faithful provision and for miraculously and consistently leading her to the right people with the means to help. Students and their parents consistently describe Ragenovich as perceptive, kind, persevering, patient, cheerful, and generous. Her trust in God’s unfailing goodness and faithfulness is an inspiration to many. “The God of the universe takes a personal interest in what happens on this campus,” says Ragenovich. “He gives me a front row seat to the show of His limitless power in action. In 44 years of working in Student Financial Services and in a lifetime of testing and trusting His providence, He’s never failed.” Ragenovich leads a team of nine dedicated employees at WWU. In her time away from the office, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Mike, working in her garden, and enjoying time with friends.
Trevor O’Reggio is a professor of church history at Andrews University where he has engaged in the preparation of pastors for ministry for 20 years. During his tenure at AU, O’Reggio has been involved with the master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation of more than 40 students. He has been director of the AU master’s programs in religion, pastoral ministry, and continuing education for ministers and has taught diverse subjects including the history of religion in America, race relations in the Adventist church, marriage and family relationships, and the theology of the Reformation. Through his work with the AU extension school and other international teaching opportunities, he has taught students in Canada, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Romania, Trinidad, and in at least 10 of the United States. His scholarly work includes research and writing on Martin Luther, Katarina von Bora, Jan Hus, and Charles Kinny, and on the subjects of immigration, Adventist missions in China, and the connection between slavery and prophecy. O’Reggio is an avid runner and triathlete. He and his wife, Anna Maria Simpson, have three children.