President Emeritus Charles J. “Jerry” Flora, who served as Western Washington University's president from 1967 to 1975, died Sunday at his Everson home, the university announced Tuesday. He was 85.
Western said Flora and his wife, Rosemary, had been in a car crash Dec. 16, and on Friday he was brought home with the help of hospice care after his condition deteriorated.
During Flora’s tenure, Western’s enrollment grew from 6,240 to 10,000, and four colleges -- Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Huxley College of the Environment, the College of Business and Economics and the College of Fine and Performing Arts -- were established.
“In addition to being a tremendous leader, Jerry was an exemplar of the passionate commitment to scholarship, teaching, and community engagement for which Western is so well known,” said WWU President Bruce Shepard. “His scholarly work in marine biology was complemented by his famous instructive beach walks with local community members as well as an award-winning children’s television series. Both undoubtedly inspired many to share his early advocacy for the protection of Puget Sound, and to see their relationship to our beautiful natural environment in a new way.”
Flora was born on Nov. 16, 1928, in Wabash County, Indiana. He married 1950 and he and his wife Rosemary had four children: Lisa, Chris, Deva and John. More from "Western Today"
At age of 80, Flora penned his own obituary, writing "One of my survivors will have to put in the date because as I write this shortly after my 80th birthday, I have no clue when it will happen. But on that date, I, Charles J. “Jerry” Flora, will have kicked the bucket."
"There is no sadness in this because I have simply done what so many before me have done and all others will do. Just think what a mess this biosphere would quickly become if none of us ever bit the dust!"
Memorials in Flora’s name may be made to the WWU Foundation, 516 High St., Old Main 430, Bellingham, WA 98225, directed to the Biology Dept. Visitation will be held at Westford Funeral Home on Thursday, December 26th from 2-4 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 205 12th St. in Lynden at 11 AM on Friday, December 27th. Burial with military honors will follow at Ten Mile Cemetery. A celebration of Jerry’s life will be held on Memorial Day, Monday May 26th at 1 PM at the JERO Farm, 6618 Lunde Road in Everson, WA.