Walter McPherson, Anton & Helen Nizich, Michael & Maxine Rainbolt, James & Rose Rainbolt ROTC Schola
Walter J. McPherson was born on June 3, 1917, in Crosby, North Dakota, to George McPherson and Agnes Tracy McPherson. He was one of five children. During the Depression, Walt served in the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1935 to 1937. In 1937 he enlisted in the Army, where he served until 1940. The outbreak of World War II took Walt back into military service. He joined the Navy in 1943, serving as a turret gunner on PT Boat 254. The PT Boat was a small, wooden craft that carried enough firepower to sink a battleship, was faster than anything on the water, and could sneak right up to shore to perform reconnaissance or drop off troops. The crew consisted of about 14 men, one or two of whom were officers. What made the all-volunteer crew different was the breadth of their training. The crew members on a typical ship were trained in a specialty, and there were several crew members trained in the same job. Without the luxury of replacements, the crew of a PT Boat was trained to do every job on the boat, with one or two being their specialty. His boat patrolled the northern Pacific waters off the coast of Alaska. During his service in the Navy, he met Irene Renner, and they were married on June 21, 1944, in Seattle, Washington.
Walt worked at several jobs following his service in the military. He started working for the Lucky Lager Brewing Company in Vancouver, Washington in 1955 and retired in 1979 from his position as Quality Control Engineer. Walt died on August 26, 1997. He loved to read and travel, and enjoyed boating, fishing, and spending time with his family. He and his wife, Irene, raised three daughters: Maxine, Marlene, and Maureen. Walt is survived by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His service in the military stayed with him throughout his life. He had a great love for the PT Boats of World War II and later in life became active with helping perpetuate the history of these unique boats. Walt believed in the education of young men and women. Through the generous donations of his family and friends, this memorial scholarship benefits ROTC students of any major at Oregon State University and Western Oregon University.
Anton Jerry ‘Tony’ Nizich was born November 20, 1916 in Oregon City, Oregon. In 1941 he married the former Helen Chiotti. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the military at the U.S. Army Induction Station, Portland, Oregon. During that time he occasionally served guard duty for Eleanor Roosevelt’s first cousin. At war’s end, Tony received an honorable discharge from the service and became a highly respected businessman and a stalwart of the Oregon City community. In 1960 he started the Nizich Brothers Fine Furniture Company and served as its president. He was a member of Saint John the Apostle Catholic Church, where he served as a trustee for the church’s Education Foundation and was a life member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a member of the BPOE #1189. Tony was a past president of the Marylhurst Parents Club and was a member of the Sierra Club. He was active in Little League baseball and he and Helen were members of the Willamette Valley Country Club.
Tony passed away on November 20, 1996. He was survived by his daughter Ann Marie, his son Jerry, plus several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Tony enjoyed steelhead and salmon fishing and loved to spend time “on the river.” He was an avid golfer and enjoyed bridge and traveling with his wife. Their travels included trips to Greece, Italy, Croatia, and the Holy Land. Tony was a staunch supporter of continuing one’s education. He had a deep commitment to family and lived to see his first two great-grandsons born. Through Helen’s generous donations, this memorial ROTC scholarship recognizes Tony's commitment to education and service to the community.
James Rainbolt was born May 27, 1912 in Butler, Tennessee, the son of Alvin and Lilly Rainbolt. He was one of ten children. He enlisted in the Army in 1934 and served initially at Fort Monroe, Virginia. For most of his military career he served in antiaircraft units. No radar existed in the early part of his career, so aircraft had to be spotted visually. Master Sergeant Rainbolt had excellent vision, which served him well in all his antiaircraft assignments. Later in life, his vision allowed him to spot ducks and pheasants from miles away. On August 6, 1942, while stationed at Fort Totten, New York, he married Rose Miranda.
In 1946 he served an assignment with the Military Police at Fort Bliss, Texas. Other training and antiaircraft assignments included Fort Sheridan, Illinois; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and Camp Maxey, Texas, where he was stationed at the end of World War II. From 1949 to 1951 he was stationed on Okinawa, where he served during the Korean Conflict. James retired from the Army in 1956 as a master sergeant after serving his last tour at Camp Hanford, Washington. His unit at Camp Hanford near Richland, Washington, was responsible for the security at the Hanford Atomic Works. Following retirement, he moved to Pasco, Washington, where he worked for the U.S. Army Reserve Center.
Master Sergeant Rainbolt loved the outdoors of the Northwest and enjoyed hunting pheasant and ducks and fishing for bass and perch in Eastern Washington. Having been raised in the backwoods of Tennessee, he brought a unique skill to his son’s Boy Scout troop. He assisted in teaching scouts outdoor cooking, camping, marksmanship, and survival skills in the woods. One of his favorite places was the Boy Scout Camp at Lake Wallowa in Eastern Oregon. He was in his own element in the woods with a shotgun or on a lake with a fishing pole. He and his wife, Rose, moved from Pasco to the Seattle area in June 1976 to be close to their son, Alvin, and his family. There he became an avid sports fan and enjoyed watching the University of Washington Huskies, Seattle Mariners, and the Seattle Seahawks. He died at Stevens Memorial Hospital in Edmonds, Washington on February 16, 1996, at the age of 83. He was survived by his wife of fifty-three years, Rose, and his sons Michael and Alvin.
Michael Rainbolt was born on Long Island, New York, on November 18, 1943. His father was in the Army, so the family lived in many places, including Texas, Chicago, Okinawa, and finally the Tri-Cities area of Washington. Michael graduated from Pasco High School in 1961. He attended Washington State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in June 1966. He concurrently received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers through Army ROTC. In June 1968, he obtained his master’s degree in hydraulic engineering from WSU.
Maxine McPherson was born in Williston, North Dakota, on March 1, 1945. Her family moved to the Portland-Vancouver area shortly afterward. She graduated from Providence Academy, an all-girls private school, and then attended the University of Portland for two years. She graduated from Washington State University in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in home economics extension. Michael met Maxine while both were attending WSU and they were married on June 15, 1968. The Army led them around the world as they served in Europe; Korea; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Seattle, Washington; Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Fort Monroe, Virginia; and finally Corvallis, where Michael retired from the Army in February 1989.
During this time, Maxine worked at raising their two daughters, Mary and Melissa. In addition, she prepared soldiers in Heilbronn and Heidelberg for their GED test and coordinated the Senior Citizens Program in Heidelberg for the parents of military personnel stationed there. She taught at Saint Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic School in Virginia. In Corvallis, Maxine worked at Hoover Elementary School. Her duties included working with children on individual education programs, maintaining their records, and assisting in numerous classrooms. She also enjoyed gardening and furnishing flower arrangements for social functions at Hoover School.
Michael was assigned to OSU as the Professor of Military Science in June 1986. In January 1989, he began a second career as an academic advisor in the College of Business at Oregon State University. He retired from that position in April 2005. Supporting ROTC students at Oregon State University and Western Oregon University has been an ongoing part of the lives of Michael and Maxine since their arrival in Corvallis. Both have been actively involved in the community. Michael was a member of Rotary International from 1987 to 1994. He served three years on the Saint Mary's Church Financial Committee and as president of the Military Officers Club of Corvallis. In 2003 he received BCF’s Meritorious Service Award and was a First Citizen nominee. Maxine was a member of Saint Mary’s Catholic Daughters of the Americas. She passed away on March 14, 2018. Michael and Maxine both actively raised funds for ROTC scholarships through various fundraisers sponsored by the Military Officers of Club. Both have enjoyed traveling and spending time with their grandchildren in Oregon City, Oregon, and El Dorado, California.