Mary Rido Kees was born July 14, 1912. Orphaned at a young age, she was adopted by Andra and Maria Rido Criscuolo, who farmed near Spokane. Sadly, her adoptive parents died when she was 12, and she lived with various other families until she completed high school. Then, she went to Washington State College and studied in the Department of Human Development. She lived in Community Hall and worked her way through school by cooking and doing laundry for college staff, graduating with a B.S. in home economics in 1935. During World War II, Mary worked as a dietitian with Cook County Hospital in Chicago. She later married Robert Chester Kees, who died of cancer only two decades later. They had no children, but Mary loved to play with the two grandchildren of a close friend, Viola Hargett. Viola recalled that when young people asked Mary for money to help pay for college, she responded that they should work as she had! She was extremely pleased with and proud of her experience as a Cougar, reflected in her annual giving to WSU. The main beneficiaries of her generosity were programs within the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. Mary died August 7, 2000. Her estate was divided evenly between Christ Reformed Church in West Virginia, of which she was a member; the American Cancer Society; and Washington State University, where her gift was used to establish the Mary R. Kees Endowed Scholarship —to help deserving students pay for college.
The income from this fund shall be used to award one or more scholarships to students majoring in or intending to major in areas within the Departments of Apparel, Merchandising and Interior Design; Food Science; or in Human Development.