Celebrate Like it’s ’48

By: E&P Staff

Wallie Funk finally got what was coming to him: a diploma from the University of Washington.

The former newspaper owner and publisher participated in Thursday’s graduation ceremonies. Months before he had been awarded the diploma after the university determined that he had in fact completed his studies more than 60 years earlier.

That happened only after Funk was elected to the Department of Communications Alumni Hall of Fame in late 2008, when Funk told UW he never graduated, according to The Seattle Times.

“I’m 88 years old and I’m celebrating like it’s 1948,” he told the Times‘ Carly Flandro.

Funk attributed the error to a clerical mistake, recalling that after four years of college, he was found to be shy 15 credit hours. Instead of a diploma, Funk soon found newspapering, buying with John Webber the weekly Anacortes (Wash.) American in 1950 and converting into a daily before selling it in 1964 and leaving Anacortes.

“When I left,” the opinionated Funk told Flandro, “I can tell you that every eye was not wet.”

Funk and Webber went on to acquire Washington’s Whidbey News-Times and the South Whidbey Record, owning them until 1988, when Funk and his late wife, Mary Ann, moved back to Anacortes.

Steve Berentson remembered Funk as the publisher who gave him his first shot at reporting after several unsuccessful job interviews. Berentson told the Times he is aware of four others who went on to become newspaper owners thanks to Funk’s influence and enthusiasm.

Founder of the Anacortes Museum and Maritime Center and former chairman of the Washington State Arts Commission, Funk said he’d had “very few dull moments, among other things, remembering a double date with William H. Gates Sr. and the woman who became Gates’ first wife, Mary.

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