At 2:45 a.m. on March 8, 1927, Carl Boppell discovered a fire on the third floor of Ballard Hall, which was then a men’s residence hall. He and his roommate, Donald Beal, alerted Ballard’s 18 sleeping residents and ensured their safe evacuation from the building before it was destroyed. Hours later, President Walter Stevenson, who was traveling at the time, sent a telegram to campus in which he pledged to build “a new and greater Whitworth.”
Little did Carl Boppell know that 74 years later, his son Chuck, ’65, and daughter-in-law Karlyn (Allbee), ’67, would play a key role in building a greater Whitworth for the 21st century.
Chuck and Karlyn are among 14 Boppell family members spanning four generations who have attended Whitworth, continuing with their daughter, Tauni, ’90. After earning his degree in economics, Chuck joined Saga Corp. and quickly rose through the management ranks. He held senior leadership positions with some of the world’s most recognizable restaurant brands, and when he retired as president of Worldwide Restaurant Concepts, the company owned and franchised more than 400 restaurants around the world. He served for 18 years as chair of Whitworth’s board of trustees. As student enrollment rose significantly during those years, Chuck and Karlyn were instrumental in supporting the resulting needs.
One of the most noticeable effects of Whitworth’s enrollment growth was limited dorm space, which forced upperclassmen to find housing off campus. Knowing how much the Whitworth experience is heightened by living on campus, the Boppells contributed $2 million for the construction of Boppell Hall, a $4-million, 29,000-square-foot residence hall located on the northeast corner of campus. Eighty-four upper-division students moved in shortly before midterms, in October 2002.
Chuck and Karlyn have continued to leave their mark in many notable ways, including significant gifts to the Whitworth running track, Robinson Science Hall, a larger endowment for music scholarships, the Lied Center for the Visual Arts, and The Whitworth Fund. In 2011, they made yet another significant gift – the largest of its kind to the university – to endow a deanship in the Whitworth School of Business.
When Chuck stepped down as board chair, in 2008, his fellow trustees and friends surprised him by donating $1.5 million to endow a faculty chair in his name. He responded with gratitude, saying, “It’s been my good fortune to have been associated with Whitworth over all these years. . .I’ve always felt like I’ve received more than I’ve given.”