Centennial Story 1: Dick Myhre (School of Fisheries, BS 1950)

I graduated from high school in 1939 and enlisted in the Washington National Guard in November of that year.  The National Guard was activated in September 1940 and that meant I was on active duty in the Army.  I received my Honorable Discharge in October 1945 and was able to attend the UW on the GI Bill.  Many ex-service men and women were anxious to continue their education, as I was, and I think there were about 50 students who selected a career in fisheries and enrolled at the UW School of Fisheries.

My first contact with the School of Fisheries was in early 1946 when I registered for classes in my first semester.  The School was located in four wooden buildings that were constructed on lower campus as hospital wards during WWI.  Of course, most of my classes in my first two years were on upper campus, but the School had two survey classes that were taught by Harry Dunlop and Heward Bell, who were the director and assistant director, respectively of the International Fisheries Commission, later renamed the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC).  At the time, the director of the School was William F. Thompson, and he registered me for the two survey classes in my freshman year.

Pictured are Members of Pacific Fishery Biologists who attended a meeting at Lake Wilderness in March, 1953. PFB was a club of fishery biologists working in WA, Id and CA. I was No. 121 in the group. There were UW faculty members included and most UW fisheries Graduates were there. Some noteworthies in the photo are Doug Chapman (No 140), Donald McKernan, who became an ambassador in the US State Department and taught classes in UW after retiring (No 80), Lee Alverson (No 142), and F Heward Bell, IPHC Director for many years (No 74).

Dr. Thompson was selected as the Director of Investigations at the International Fisheries Commission in about 1925 after receiving his PhD from Stanford.  Some years later, he became the director of the newly formed International Salmon Commission, which was created to restore the Frazier River salmon fishery.  Subsequently, he was made director of the Fishery Research Institute, a group created by the Alaska salmon industry.

In my junior year, I was happy to start taking fisheries classes. Loren “Doc” Donaldson created a salmon and trout hatchery, and we students did the hands-on work.  Prior to my year in his class, Donaldson had conducted selective breeding of rainbow trout and developed a race of fast-growing trout that he planted in Green Lake in Seattle to the delight of many trout fishermen. Donaldson took our class out to the fish hatchery in Auburn where we mixed eggs and sperm from mature king salmon, placed them in troughs in the lab with running water to hatch, and fed them until they were ready to migrate to sea.  They were released at the UW, and Donaldson started a UW salmon run.

I also took classes from Alan Delacy, who taught fish life history, and Arthur Welander, who taught fish classification.  And, I took one class from Dr. James Lynch, who taught life history and classification of mollusks.

Because WWII diverted many potential students for military service, all the fishery agencies struggled to carry out their duties during and right after the war.  They needed fishery biologists most of all, and I was hired by the IPHC before I completed my BS degree.  Things I learned in the service gave me a strong desire to get a BS degree, and I can honestly say that my service experiences led me to a very rewarding career.  I retired as the assistant director of the IPHC after 36 years of employment as a fishery research biologist.

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