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Old Main Society Bestows Highest Honors

Utah State University's Old Main Society capped off its annual gathering this fall by bestowing its highest honors on three more couples who have once again deepened the meaning of what it is to be an Aggie.


Established in 1967 to recognize alumni and friends who bring to pass the fulfillment of Utah State's mission, the Old Main Society celebrates the university's philanthropic support at the highest levels. Its honorees this year include Fred and Sharon Hunsaker, who received the Spirit of Old Main Award; Gene and Ruth Miller who were presented the Spirit of Old Main Emeriti Award; and Paul and Rebecca Parkinson, the recipients of the Spirit of Old Main–New Generation Award.


We're humbled by both gesture and commitment.


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2010 Spirit of Old Main Award Fred R. and Sharon W. Hunsaker

It might be difficult for fellow Aggies to remember where they first met Fred and Sharon Hunsaker, recipients of the 2010 Spirit of Old Main Award, because both have been such an integral part of the university for so many years, making generous, life–long commitments to USU along the way.


Fred was a first–generation college graduate after having been raised on a farm in Box Elder County and helping to support his mother and two siblings. After graduating in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in finance from USU, Fred continued with post graduate studies at USU and the University of Utah. He received a master's degree from the University of Washington's Graduate School of Banking.


He spent 26 years in the banking industry, starting off as a loan officer and ascending to CEO of First Federal of Logan. He came to USU in 1991 as vice president of Administrative Affairs. From 1997–99 he took leave to work as the associate commissioner for Finance and Facilities for the Utah System of Higher Education. He returned to USU in 2000 picking up where he left off.


He has also served in the Utah State House of Representatives for over 14 years.


Fred received the 2002 USU Leadership Award, the 2004 USU Robins Achievement Award and the Innovation Campus Contribution to Development Award.


Fred has served in numerous community and church functions, including the Cache Valley Council Boy Scouts, the Cache Valley Health Foundation, the Sunshine Terrace Foundation and the American Cancer Society. He also served a full–time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints in Denmark and enjoys golfing, fishing and farming.


Sharon received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in elementary education at USU and spent much of her career as an advisor to elementary education student teachers. She has been a member of the A.C. Women's Club, USU Community Associates, and with Fred is a Performance Hall seat donor. Sharon also is a past PTA president.


Sharon's father, Elmer “Bear” Ward, was an extremely loyal Aggie. He was USU's first football All–American.


Fred and Sharon knew each other during high school and were married in the spring of 1963. They have three children, all graduates of USU's Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.


Sharon and Fred are members of the Big Blue Touchdown Club and the Old Main Society–President's Circle and have made gifts to USU every year for as long as we have been keeping records.


2010 Spirit of Old Main Emeriti Award Gene W. and Ruth E. Miller

For their lifelong dedication to education, Gene and Ruth Miller have been named the first recipients of the Spirit of Old Main Emeriti Award. They are grateful to Utah State University for the opportunities they were given to obtain a high–quality education and for the enrichment it has provided throughout their lives.


Gene started classes in 1946 and received both his bachelor's and master's degrees in soil chemistry. He earned a doctorate in biochemistry from North Carolina State University. A plant physiologist/biochemist, he later returned to USU as a faculty member in botany. He was also the first head of the Biology Department, serving for 12 years prior to retiring as associate dean of the College of Science.


His greatest interests over the years were research and teaching. More than 25 students received their doctoral degrees under Gene's direction.


After retirement from Utah State, Gene and his family started BAICOR, Inc., a manufacturing business producing specialized plant nutrients for agriculture, golf courses, home and garden. As the company evolved, it was recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in Utah.


Ruth returned to USU after having five children and received her bachelor's degree in languages, specializing in German and Spanish. She was deeply involved in school activities and functions as her children grew up, and she also served in various capacities as a volunteer in her church and community.


2010 Spirit of Old Main–New Generation Paul D. and Rebecca J. Parkinson

It is an understatement of epic proportions to say that Paul and Rebecca Parkinson, recipients of the 2010 Spirit of Old Main—New Generation Award, have deep connections to Utah State University.


Paul and Rebecca met at USU their sophomore year, just after Paul's return from an LDS Church mission to northern Argentina. The next three years they were side–by–side, Paul earning a bachelor of arts in humanities and social sciences/liberal arts and sciences and Rebecca graduating with a bachelor of science in elementary education from the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. Both graduated cum laude, June of 1993, just two weeks after their first son was born.


Rebecca and Paul were both members of the USU President's Leadership Council (now known as Ambassadors) for four years. Both were inducted into the Student Ambassador Hall of Fame in 2009. In 1992–93 Rebecca received the Outstanding On–Campus Student Award from the Elementary Education department.


After graduation, Paul worked for Medline Industries, Inc., where he received the Rookie Representative of the Year in 1997, Sales Representative of the Year in 2000, and where he became regional manager in 2004.


Paul has been heavily involved with the university, serving as the Alumni Association Executive Board President and as a member of the Alumni Chapter Board. He is also a former member of USU's Board of Trustees.


Rebecca was raised in an agricultural family of seven children. She graduated from North Sevier High School with high honors. She and Paul have been members of Mortar Board, USU Community Associates, the Big Blue Scholarship Club, are Performance Hall seat donors and are members of the Old Main Society at the Tower level.


Paul's family legacy is rich: his mother, Leah Dunford Parkinson Christensen, also an Old Main Society member, was Dean of Women from 1959 to 1966 and later Alumni Association President (1974–1977). Both sets of parents attended Utah State as did all of their siblings and their siblings' spouses.


“Both of us came from homes of modest means. We both received four–year scholarships to Utah State University and were beneficiaries of someone else's generosity,” they said. “Since that time, we've always had the desire to somehow perpetuate that generosity.”


In 2001, the Parkinsons established the Paul and Rebecca Parkinson University Ambassadors Endowment, in appreciation of the financial assistance they received while serving as USU Ambassadors. They are donors to USU Athletics, the Caine College of the Arts, the USU Library, Alumni Scholarships, and other areas of the University.


Paul and Rebecca have six children who are all slated to become third–generation Aggies.