To the Journal editor:
I would like to publically thank Northern Michigan University for working with our family to create a fitting and lasting memorial for Waino E. Wahtera, the result of which is the recently dedicated pavilion on the NMU campus that bears his name.
This project originated under former President David Haynes, and so many individuals have been involved that trying to recognize everyone would surely result in omissions.
But in particular we’d like to thank Dave Bammert of the NMU Foundation for being our contact and providing great continuity in this process, in addition to current President Fritz Erickson and all the NMU Board & Foundation Trustees, along with all the other NMU friends and representatives, who joined us to honor Waino during this dedication.
It is the hope of our family that the Waino Wahtera Pavilion will be recognized not just on campus but also in the community as a symbol of the role of education in the lives of those who use it as a stepping stone to greater achievement. NMU (at the time NSTC) was the launching pad for a first-generation American boy who lost his father in the 1919 Spanish Flu epidemic and in his youth lost a lower leg to gangrene. And the fuel for this launch was education, “Sisu” and a strong mother / family environment.
While Waino spent the majority of his life in Rochester, NY working at Eastman Kodak, he never forgot who he was, where he came from and how his achievements in life were facilitated.
Our family believes that the pavilion represents several key segments of his extraordinary life: 1) it overlooks the home / neighborhood where he grew up and the central areas of his youth, 2) it is located on the academic campus where education “launched” him and 3) the 360 degree vistas of the pavilion represent unlimited horizons and the scope of opportunity that education and guided upbringing can engender.
Our thanks once again to all who have been involved with this pavilion both past and present.
May this site serve not simply as a memorial to Waino, but to the roles of the aforementioned impacts on his life and to the indomitable spirit of mankind.