Donald and Bettie Steiger both graduated from WSU in 1956. Don grew up on a wheat ranch in Diamond, WA, near Colfax, and spent all his adolescent summers farming with his father. Graduating with a B.S. in Geography, Don joined his father in the wheat growing business immediately. In 1958, he completed a year of graduate work at the University of California and received an ROTC commission in the US Army. Don spent the next 26 years as a career Army Officer fulfilling assignments in Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Maryland, Kansas, Colorado Springs, Texas, Virginia and Washington, DC. His avocation, however, always remained with his roots in agriculture and in the greater Colfax community. Upon retirement from the Army in 1986, he assumed all management responsibility of the Steiger wheat operation.
Bettie Alexander Steiger graduated with a B.S. in Political Science and completed graduate work at WSU with an M.E. in secondary education. Realizing that Don’s Army career would require frequent move, Bettie stayed home to raise their two children, Craig Alexander Scott and Ann Alexander Carla, in order to provide a stable environment. Both children enjoyed experiencing life on the wheat ranch every summer, knowing they would one day inherit it. Bettie reentered the corporate world in ‘75 and became a pioneer in the online and digital high tech world. She is one of the founders of Source Telecomputing Corp., “The Source”, the first online information system. She was named the “Outstanding Woman in Electronic Publishing” in 1984. Bettie is a recognized futurist for leading-edge concepts and has contributed to the founding of a dozen high tech companies. She received and Executive MBA from Harvard Business School in ‘87 when she and Craig made Harvard history as the first mother-son team to receive an MBA in the same year. Ann completed a master’s degree in Physical Therapy in ‘86.
Donald is a direct descendent of John A. and Amanda Eaton Harper, who homesteaded the Harper Farm on Union Flat in 1870, and which is recognized as a Whitman County Territorial Farm. His grandfather, F. H. Steiger was active in wheat growing in Whitman County from 1899-1945. Bettie is a descendent of Anson Williamson, who homesteaded in the Rattle Snake Hills in 1890 and grew wheat there through 1929. This land is now engaged in grape production for the wine industry.
The distributions from the endowment fund may be used to provide fellowship stipends to be used for the recipient for such things including but not limited to tuition and fees, subsistence, research expenses, and other educationally related costs. First preference shall be given to a student pursuing either a master’s degree on doctorate in Crop and Soil Sciences with an interest in wheat breeding and genetics. In addition, funds may be made available to recruit prospective graduate students. The graduate students may be assigned to specific breeding programs but must maintain interaction with all breeders and the department chair. Bi-annual meetings will be established between breeders, graduate students and the department chair to assess the fellowship.