Eliot Circular

Mountaineer Leaves Reed $1M

By Randall S. Barton
Paul Wiseman ’33

Passionate about mountain climbing and his alma mater, Paul Wiseman ’33 left a bequest that divided his fortune between Reed College and the Olympia branch of the Mountaineers Club, which he helped found.

He died in 2011, two days before his 99th birthday. In addition to leaving the college an astonishing $1,089,644, Paul generously supported the college in every way a donor can give. He made a six-figure lifetime gift and was a loyal donor to the Annual Fund.

“Every year on his birthday, June 10, Paul would write his Annual Fund check,” remembers Kathy Saitas, director of planned giving for Reed College. “He was the most meticulous man I ever knew, dapper and clean as a whistle. Every morning, whether he was driving or not, he’d pull his car out and put it in the driveway. His house was spotless, with every window shade pulled up to exactly the same level.”

Paul’s devotion to Reed began in 1929, when he arrived on campus to study math. He lived in House F (now known as Doyle) with roommate Hunter Morrison ’34, who remained a lifelong friend and mountain climbing companion.

Two years into the Great Depression, Paul’s parents were no longer able to afford Reed, which cost $800 per year for for tuition, room, and board. Paul dropped out and worked first as a census taker and then as a deckhand for the Grace Line, sailing between Seattle and South America. In 1935, he earned a BA in economics from the University of Washington and went to work for the state government in Olympia as the chief of research and statistics in the employment security department.

During World War II he served as an army quartermaster, posted in Europe and the Philippines.

Paul, who never married, was an inveterate mountain climber. In addition to his involvement with the Mountaineers Club, he was a board member of the Sierra Club northwest chapter and a strong advocate for wilderness conservation.

In 1958, he hiked with Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, conservationist Polly Dyer, and others along the Olympic Peninsula to protest a proposed extension of U.S. Highway 101 that would have destroyed a section of Olympic National Park. Into his 80s, he led trips for the Mountaineers, and he drove his Lincoln—with a trunk big enough to hold a set of skis—well into his late 90s.

Though Paul had no family, he leaves a legacy to generations of grateful Reedies.