Roger P. Wallins, of Moscow, died Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene. He was 78.
Roger Peyton Wallins was born in New York City on Oct. 24, 1941, to parents Albert and Beatrice. He and his sister, Barbara, grew up in uptown Manhattan.
His family infused him with the love of education. He was allowed to complete three junior high grades in two years, and earned his diploma at the Bronx High School of Science. He was 16 when he enrolled at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to major in chemical engineering. He enjoyed mixing explosive chemicals together, but that wasn’t enough to make him an engineer. In the middle of his sophomore year, he enrolled at City College of New York, where he realized that he loved the study of English literature.
He completed his bachelor’s and became a teaching assistant at Ohio State at 20 years old while earning his master’s and Ph.D. degrees. In 1966, Roger gave a presentation at the Ohio State student union and a smart, beautiful young woman named Judy heard the presentation and decided that she wanted to get to know Roger better. That was the most fortunate event in Roger’s young life. Roger Wallins and Judy Beach dated, got engaged, and on March 19, 1967, were married and lived happily ever after. Two of their happiest events were the births of daughters Rachel in January 1969 and Beatrice in February 1973.
A tenure-track offer from the University of Idaho in December 1970 led the family to Moscow, where Roger began as an assistant professor of English, specializing in Victorian literature and director of composition. He was promoted through the ranks from assistant professor to full professor of English, and was selected by his students to receive an outstanding teacher award.
He moved into administration and ended his career as associate dean of the College of Graduate Studies and director of University Graduate Admissions. During his time, Roger established the Graduate Student Assistance Program, the goal of which is to help students afford their graduate educations.
Roger valued and loved volunteer work. He served as president of the Latah Credit Union, the Moscow Community Theatre and the Idaho Repertory Theatre Advisory Board, and as chairman of the Moscow School Board and the Moscow Fair Housing Commission. He also served three terms on the Board of Directors of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse and the Moscow Arts Commission. In retirement, he served as a general member for Gritman Medical Center and on their Quality Improvement Committee. He also invested in the stock market and took his entire family on a Disney cruise with his ill-gotten gains.
He acted in more than 25 productions for Moscow Community Theatre, worked behind the scenes on nearly that many plays, and directed youth casts and technical crews in multiple productions. He also taught a Youth Acting Workshop for 9-to-17-year-olds. For his contributions to the arts, in 2012 Roger received the Kenworthy Players’ Performing Arts Award and the Mayor’s Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award.
Roger was a family man. It was important to Judy and him that they have dinner each evening with their school-aged daughters, and that they attend all of their kids’ activities.
During his lifetime, his favorite dogs were Turbi, Sally, Maggie and Tori; his favorite parakeets, Joey, Pip and Woolf.
He is survived by wife Judith; daughter Rachel and son-in-law Jeff Guberman; daughter Beatrice and former son-in-law David Lawrence; granddaughters Elana, Charlotte and Abigail, and grandson Nicky. His sister, Barbara, also survives him, along with multiple beloved extended family members. He dearly and completely loved his family.
The family held a private graveside service but a larger (Kibbie Dome large) memorial will be held in the spring. Get your stories ready now.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Graduate Student Assistance Program (GSAP) at the University of Idaho, the Moscow Community Theatre and the Humane Society of the Palouse.
Arrangements were entrusted to Short’s Funeral Chapel, Moscow, and online condolences may be sent to www.shortsfuneralchapel.com.