WSU College of Nursing: Korean War veteran honors nurses with $1 million in gift commitments

A military veteran is paying tribute to the nurses with whom he worked alongside during the Korean War through $1 million in gift commitments to the WSU College of Nursing.

His most recent gift of $500,000 establishes the Waldron O. and Janet S. Lindblad Professorship in Geriatrics — the first distinguished professorship at the WSU College of Nursing. He has also committed an additional gift of $400,000 through his estate plan.

The professorship will help shape gerontological nursing research at WSU and aims to influence how the college trains nurses across Washington state to care for an aging population. The number of Americans over age 65 is projected to more than double by 2060, making geriatrics and gerontology a dynamic and growing field for nursing research and practice.

In 2016, Lindblad made a gift of $100,000 to create the Janet S. Lindblad Excellence Fund in honor of his late wife, who died in 2011. That fund supports graduate students, faculty, and programs with a preference for work in the field of geriatrics and gerontology.

“The WSU College of Nursing is privileged to help Mr. Lindblad fulfill his dual wishes of honoring the nursing profession and advancing the field of gerontology,” said Dr. Joyce Griffin‑Sobel, dean of the College of Nursing. “Students and faculty are already benefiting from the Janet S. Lindblad Excellence Fund. I’m confident the new Lindblad Professorship in Geriatrics will bring distinction in research and scholarship in the field of aging at Washington State University.”

Lindblad flew medical evac during Korean War

Lindblad in his Air Force uniform.
Wally Lindblad, Air Force

A veteran of the United States Navy and U.S. Air Force, Lindblad, 92, flew medical evacuations during the Korean War with five nurses on board the aircraft. “I saw how hard they worked,” he noted recently. “They were just 21 or 22 years old, but we never lost a patient. That’s how I fell in love with nursing.”

His interest in geriatrics is prompted by his experiences and those of his wife as they aged, he said.

Lindblad has been in an assisted living facility in Pullman since shortly after his wife died. He moved there after living for many years in Vancouver, Washington, to be closer to a daughter who is a longtime employee in WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology. Lindblad has two other children.

Retired from Air Force, he found success in securities and real estate

Lindblad left the family farm in Fahlun Township, Minnesota, at 17 and enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He attended pilot training and was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force in 1950, flying about 1,000 hours ferrying service members wounded in the Korean conflict out of Tokyo. Lindblad retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1978 and followed up his military career with success in securities and real estate investing. He said his longtime involvement in Masonic organizations has been important in his life.

In describing the motivation behind his generous gifts to the WSU College of Nursing, Lindblad recalled one occasion during the Korean War when he had 28 injured people on board his plane when one of its four engines failed. “We flew 1,700 miles on three engines,” he said. “Every one of those guys lived – again, nursing did it for us.”



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