Watterson Family Named Centralia College’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni


The Centralia College Foundation on Tuesday named the Watterson family as the recipient of its 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for their individual commitment to hard work, service to their communities and education.

This is the first time the foundation has awarded the honorary distinction to a group or family, according to a college news release.

“I think because of the pandemic of 2020, I have been challenged to think more locally,” said John Klumper, vice president of the Centralia College Foundation and a member of the Distinguished Alumni selection committee, in a statement. “The Watterson family exemplifies exactly how I’m thinking. They’re very much into family and community, and doing great things for others. I am very excited for the Watterson family to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award this year.”

Four siblings in particular ­— Ed, Bill, Marilyn and Jim — were recognized. They’ll also be honored as part of the college’s 2021 commencement celebration.

The family also has an established endowed scholarship fund set up in memory of their parents, Clarence and Doris Watterson, according to the news release.

“The Watterson family of alumni are uniquely special among Centralia College families due to their varied significant contributions individually to their professions and communities in such a widespread way throughout the U.S. Yet, as a group, they still choose to recognize and remember their roots at Centralia College,” said Renee Lawson, a longtime selection committee member, in a statement.

Clarence and Doris originally raised their four children on a dairy farm in Salzer Valley, and instilled in them the importance of education.

All four siblings went on to graduate from Centralia College.

Marilyn Watterson Weinstein, class of 1963, went to Washington State University and earned her bachelor’s degree in business education. According to the news release, she eventually went on to develop customer software systems primarily for the biomedical field. She also taught.

Ed Watterson, class of 1955, has been a superintendent at Schwiesow Construction since 1979 and was involved in construction of many buildings on campus, including Kirk Library, Washington Hall, Technology Building and Walton Science Center.

Bill Watterson, class of 1961, played basketball and went on to earn his master’s degree and start Watterson Construction in Alaska.

Jim Watterson, class of 1973, went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Washington and eventually joined Watterson Construction.

He currently serves as the company’s president, according to the college’s news release.