Eleanor Evans ’12 had a special visitor when she graduated from Linfield College in May. Her 87-year-old grandfather, Austin Robert ’48, was invited back to his alma mater as a Golden Grad, and marched again, this time with his granddaughter.
“I was real flattered the first day I arrived on campus,” said Robert, who is from Northeast Portland. “A newspaper man from The Oregonian wanted to take a photo of me with the college president. I had come out from Illinois, and that was from the farthest distance of any student.”
There were few men on campus in the 1940s because of World War II, but Robert’s bad back kept him stateside. “Since the male population was so small, we were asked to participate in anything and everything,” Robert said. During his years at Linfield College he performed in musicals, quartets and choirs, and spent many evenings with friends singing outside dorm doors.
Robert passed his love of music on to his granddaughter. “My grandparents were the source of culture and tradition in our family, and they were very musical,” Evans said. “We all sang.”
Robert also passed on a love of nature. His favorite spot on the park-like campus was a window in Melrose Hall, where he could watch the seasons change in the nearby mountains. Outside that building is his granddaughter’s favorite place, a stand of 200-year-old trees in the campus Oak Grove.
Robert and Evans cleaned the same campus building while working their way through school, and the granddaughter’s dorm was named after the grandfather’s professor.
Robert graduated in sociology before devoting his career to child welfare. Evans, his granddaughter, shares a desire for public service. A political science and German double major, she plans to study public policy in graduate school, and then work to help develop and implement sound public policies.
“I love my grandpa,” said Evans, who has seen a lot of her grandparents during her years at Linfield. They sent cards each month, attended her cross country track meets, and took her for regular outings to the old-fashioned downtown ice cream parlor. “They support me in everything,” she said.