Waino Wahtera:
Alumni Gift Changes the Face of NMU Campus

Wahtera-lg.jpgPlanned gifts can serve the students and surrounding community of a university in many ways. They can even change the face of a campus. A good example of this is NMU’s Waino Wahtera Pavilion, located between Cohodas and Lee Halls. The facility was made possible through a bequest from the alumnus, who earned his bachelor of science degree from Northern in 1940.

The 40- by 60-foot pavilion serves as a flexible-use venue that can accommodate about 200 people and overlooks both Lake Superior and the Summit Street neighborhood where Waino was born and raised.

“This pavilion is really two things,” said Kim Wahtera about his uncle Waino’s legacy. “It is the epicenter of his youth because his family lived nearby, and he went to school at Northern.” And the vistas from here, especially when the leaves are down, are expansive and unending. That is much like the unlimited vistas Waino enjoyed throughout his life because of education. It was through education that he became a true Renaissance man. He was a gourmet cook, an inventor of sorts, an avid reader, a world traveler, and a musician. He spent 70 years as a member of the Central New York Bluegrass Association and played several instruments.

Waino held a variety of professional positions after leaving Northern. He spent time at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York, as a chemist in the polymer technology division and as an engineer in the environmental division. He later changed occupations, working as an environmental engineer for the city of Rochester—helping businesses meet EPA standards.

His decision to support his alma mater through a generous bequest has left a lasting and tangible legacy for the benefit of Northern Michigan University, the Marquette community, and the surrounding region.

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