A tall, lean man with jet-black hair and wire-rimmed glasses, Albert Arend joined Whitworth’s board of trustees in 1925, during a time when many predicted the college would fold. But Arend believed in Whitworth and played a key role in helping the institution weather the storm by contributing many of his own funds to meet the faculty payroll during the Great Depression. Recalling those troubled years, Arend said (quoted in the Spokesman-Review), “I remember going before our group of teachers at the end of the school year [in 1932] with Mr. McEachran. In essence we told them ‘We owe you money. We haven’t got it. But if anybody wants to come back next fall anyway, your jobs are available.’ They all came.”
The college survived, and Arend saw it through to years of prosperity. He was elected president of the board and served from 1958-72. In 1958, Arend Hall was dedicated and provided housing for 152 men. An addition for 18 men was completed during 1962. When the hall’s namesake retired, he had served on Whitworth’s board for more than 50 years.
Arend grew up in Spokane. At 12 he began working as a delivery boy for his father, at A&K Markets. He graduated from North Central High School and served in the U.S. Army during World War I. He then returned to Spokane and attended Northwestern Business College. When his father became ill, in 1921, Arend became manager of his father’s stores, and though he had never graduated college, his work experience served his business career as a sought-after management expert. He married his wife, Pearl, in 1922, and for the rest of his life he was an active member of Knox Presbyterian Church, teaching Sunday school and serving as an elder.
Arend’s civic commitments were many and varied. He served on a number of boards, including that of the YMCA, and was involved with important Spokane events like Expo ’74 and the Lilac Festival. In 1951, he was part of a group that formed the Union Gospel Mission. They took over a former speakeasy in downtown Spokane and built a ministry that provided a place for men to get a hot meal, a place to rest, and spiritual nourishment. This mission expanded to include Anna Ogden Hall, a women and children’s center. Both organizations continue to serve homeless and hurting men, women and children today. Arend also served as president of Presbyterian Ministries, which developed three retirement homes, including Hawthorne Manor (now Rockwood at Hawthorne), near the Whitworth campus.
When Arend stepped down as board chair, Whitworth President Ed Lindaman commemorated his legacy at the year’s final board meeting, saying, “Emerson once wrote that an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man. It would be more accurate to say that Whitworth College is a substantial life, sustained moment-by-moment by the concerted heartbeats of many faithful persons. For a long time, Albert Arend’s heart has been the concert master.” His heart remained strong for Whitworth – the much-loved college of a man who never graduated from college – until his death in 1984.