April 16, 2008
VANCOUVER ARCHITECT NAMED OUTSTANDING CLARK COLLEGE ALUM
Larry Swatosh will be honored at the college's annual Student Alumni Dinner on April 16
VANCOUVER, Wash. – During his career as an architect, Larry Swatosh designed several well-known buildings around Clark County, including the Vancouver City Hall, the second Fort Vancouver High School, View Ridge Middle School and St. Joseph’s Church in Woodland.
But his enduring legacy has been designing a better future for his community and the world, through volunteer work on more than a dozen civic and non-profit committees and boards, including the Clark College Alumni Association for the past eight years.
The association and Clark College will honor Swatosh tonight as the recipient of the 2008 Clark College Outstanding Alumni Award at the annual Student- Alumni dinner. He joins a select number of Clark alums to be recognized, including former Sen. Al Bauer, environmentalist Denis Hayes, former Congressman Don Bonker and attorney Bob Schaefer.
Alum Efforts Benefit Students
Students at his hometown alma mater have often been the beneficiaries of Swatosh’s efforts. He is the creator and primary force behind a Gingerbread House competition that raises funds for Clark College Culinary Arts students. He also volunteers with the Vancouver Rotary scholarship and international student exchange programs.
“Larry is a real gentleman,” said Larry Mains, Clark College Culinary Arts Coordinator. “He puts a lot of effort into the Gingerbread House project, even transporting the displays himself and doing things to create excitement for the project among the students. All the funds benefit our students, as well.”
For the competition, local architects create designs brought to life by high school and college baking students and professional bakers. The works of culinary art are displayed at Westfield Shoppingtown, and then at the annual Festival of Trees in wood and glass display cases hand built by Swatosh. Viewers “vote” for their favorites in cash and those funds are used for scholarships.
Career Found in Vancouver
A 1957 graduate of Clark, Larry Swatosh was the first member of his family to attend college. Building on an early interest and aptitude for art, he considered a career in commercial art. After deciding against advertising, he took the advice of a friend studying architecture at University of Washington and found his calling.
Swatosh’s faculty roster while attending Clark reads like a Who’s Who of the college’s early master teachers – Lewis Cannell, English; Edgar Smith, history; Fred Apsler, sociology; Hermine Decker, theatre; and Deloyce Frost, art.
After graduation from UW, Swatosh and his wife Judy, whom he met at Clark College, returned to the area but rented an apartment across the river in anticipation of finding the greatest opportunities for a young architect intern to make a start in Portland.
“After about six weeks of visiting many architectural offices in Portland, in what proved to be an economic slow period, it occurred to me to look for work in Vancouver,” said Swatosh. “By the third office I visited, I had found a job. After less than two years, we relocated here and I have really worked my entire professional career in Vancouver.”
In 1963 they started a family with the birth of son, Joseph, and two daughters, Eileen and Emily. All three are happily married and living in Vancouver. Joe is a computer programmer with two sons, Eileen is a registered nurse with three sons and Emily is a special education teacher with two sons and a daughter.
After 20 years away, Judy returned to Clark College in 1976 to earn an Associate's Degree in Nursing. She worked for 15 years at Southwest Washington Medical Center as a registered nurse.
Three Decades of Community Service
“Throughout my working life in Vancouver I have been blessed -- first with employers and later with partners who have allowed me the time to be involved in community service,” Swatosh said.
In the mid-seventies, he became the youngest appointee to the Vancouver Planning Commission. Over the years, he has served on behalf of community organizations including the Vancouver Planning Commission, Vancouver Board of Adjustment, Vancouver Project Review Board, Vancouver Shore Lines Ordinance Task Force; Clark County Boundary Review Board, Vancouver Cultural Commission Ordinances Task Force, Vancouver Cultural Commission, Columbia Non Profit Housing, American Red Cross Board, Friends of the Arts; Chinook Trail Association Board, Friends of Vancouver Tennis Center, Clark College Alumni Association Board, and the American Institute of Architects.
“My years of association with these organizations, plus 23 years as an active member of the Vancouver Rotary Club, have allowed me many opportunities to try to make this community, this area and my chosen profession better for those that follow,” Swatosh said.