PULLMAN, Washington – A sign on Wally Lindblad’s door reads, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Waldron O. Lindblad embodies that sentiment.
The 92-year-old military veteran is paying tribute to the nurses with whom he worked alongside in the Korean War through $1 million in gift commitments to the Washington State University College of Nursing.
Lindblad is making donations during his life and ultimately as a bequest.
His most recent gift of $500,000 establishes the Waldron O. and Janet S. Lindblad Professorship in Geriatrics – the first distinguished professorship at the WSU College of Nursing. He has also committed an additional gift of $400,000 through his estate plan.
The professorship will help shape the important field of gerontological nursing research and aims to influence how the college trains nurses across Washington state to care for an aging population. The number of Americans over age 65 is projected to more than double from 2015 to 2060, making geriatrics and gerontology a dynamic and growing field for nursing research and practice.
In 2016, Lindblad made a gift of $100,000 to create the Janet S. Lindblad Excellence Fund in honor of his late wife, who died in 2011. That fund supports graduate students, faculty and programs with a preference for work in the field of geriatrics and gerontology.
“The WSU College of Nursing is privileged to help Mr. Lindblad fulfill his dual wishes of honoring the nursing profession and advancing the field of gerontology,” said Dr. Joyce Griffin-Sobel, dean of the College of Nursing. “Students and faculty are already benefitting from the Janet S. Lindblad Excellence Fund. I’m confident the new Lindblad Professorship in Geriatrics will bring distinction in research and scholarship in the field of aging at Washington State University.”
Lindblad flew medical evac during Korean War
A veteran of the United States Navy and U.S. Air Force, Lindblad, 92, flew medical evacuations during the Korean War with five nurses on board the aircraft. “I saw how hard they worked,” he noted recently. “They were just 21 or 22 years old, but we never lost a patient. That’s how I fell in love with nursing.”
His interest in geriatrics is prompted by his experiences and those of his wife as they aged, he said.
Lindblad has been in an assisted living facility in Pullman since shortly after his wife died. He moved there after living for many years in Vancouver, Washington, to be closer to a daughter who is a longtime employee in WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology. Lindblad has two other children.
Retired from Air Force, he found success in securities and real estate
He was 17 when he left the family farm in Fahlun Township, Minnesota, with $5 in his pocket. “I enlisted in the Navy to get away from the farm, where I was destined to milk 29 cows for the foreseeable future,” he recalls.
After World War II he attended pilot training and was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force. He flew about 1,000 hours ferrying servicemembers wounded in the Korean conflict out of Tokyo. He said he’s still haunted by some of his experiences from that time.
Lindblad retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1978 and followed up his military career with success in securities and real estate investing. He said his longtime involvement in Masonic organizations has been important in his life.
In describing the motivation behind his generous gifts to the WSU College of Nursing, Lindblad recalled one occasion during the Korean War when he had 28 injured people on board his plane when one of its four engines failed. “We flew 1,700 miles on three engines,” he said. “Every one of those guys lived – again, nursing did it for us.”
–Story by Addy Hatch
To learn more about how to make an investment in WSU College of Nursing, please contact Brooke Ledeboer, Development Director, at (509) 324-7202.