The Corkery family roots run deep in Washington.  Moving west from Wisconsin to start a timber company, George Corkery opened his doors for business in Aberdeen in 1915.  Nearly 100 years later, the Corkery name is still connected to Washington forests and forestry in a big way through their support of the College of the Environment.

George’s son’s – Jack and George, Jr. – studied at the UW in what was then the College of Forest Resources during the late 1930’s, training to follow in their father’s footsteps.  But times got tough in the timber business, so the two brothers soon founded the successful Corkery Brother’s Painting Company where they served out their careers.

But the Corkery heart never strayed far from Washington’s rich forested landscapes, and in 1991 the family—all graduates of the UW, including George, Jr, ’41; Jack ’39; Jack’s wife Vada May ’42; and their sister Alberta ’37—established the first endowed chair in the College of Forest Resources.  The endowment was meant help to enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain distinguished faculty in the college, and continues to do so.  The family legacy lived on for many years through Vada May Corkery—an accomplished artist whose imagery reflects the family’s love for the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest and the world—and continues today through their daughter Karleen Snetsinger.

“A person who likes the place where they were educated should leave a legacy to them,” said Vada May.  It was her idea to give to the university in the first place, asking Jack “What are you going to do with your money?  You better do something good with it!”

And good they have done indeed.  Through their philanthropy, the Corkerys have not only created the Corkery Endowed Chair, they supported academic and research programs at Pack Forest, and funded the Bruce Bare Endowed Professorship in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

“We always liked Bruce,” says Vada May.  “He is so easy to get along with, he always listens.  Jack thought he was a fine dean and teacher.  Our personalities just clicked.”

The Bare Professorship honors Dean Emeritus and Professor B. Bruce Bare who served as dean of the College of Forest Resources from 2001-2009 and still teaches in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.  It allows the school to recruit, retain and reward distinguished faculty who conduct research and teaching on the science of sustainability, while emphasizing the integration of human and natural elements involved in natural resource management.

The Corkery’s gifts have not ended there.  Their long history of family giving includes support to UW’s History and Economics’ Departments, the Seattle Preparatory School, and Seattle Children’s Hospital.   It’s their way of giving back to the community, one which they care deeply about and have called home for nearly a century.

A long-time supporter and friend of the College of the Environment’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, Vada May Corkery passed away peacefully at her home on March 5, 2015. A memorial service was held on March 21 at Magnolia Presbyterian Church.