Vandal Sweethearts Give Back
Kathy (Skok) Whistler and Jim Whistler met as freshman at the University of Idaho during a “freshman exchange” event between his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, and her sorority, Pi Beta Phi.
Shortly after, Jim landed a job working as a server and dishwasher at Kathy’s sorority. As the months went by, she knew it was love when he began serving her extra desserts.
Now, after 48 years of marriage, the Whistlers are leaving a permanent mark on the institution that helped shape their lives by including U of I in their estate plan.
Jim earned his degree in Finance from the College of Business and Economics at UI in 1970, and then his Juris Doctor from the College of Law in 1973. Kathy earned her bachelor’s in journalism from the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences in 1973.
As an undergraduate finance major, Jim interned in the Moscow office of Northwestern Mutual, where he worked with the late Dave Trail ’66.
“He was a great mentor, friend and fellow Vandal,” Jim said. “I didn’t realize at the time that this would be the beginning of a long career.”
After graduating and passing the Idaho and California Bar exams, Jim took a job with Northwestern Mutual, where he still works as a wealth management advisor.
In 1970, Kathy worked for the Daily Idahonian in Moscow. After graduation, Jim and Kathy moved to the Bay Area, where Jim had a job as an assistant manager at the San Francisco Northwestern Mutual office. In 1975, Jim took a new position in management development as a junior officer at Northwestern Mutual’s headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kathy worked for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee News and Publications department.
While at UWM, Kathy earned a Master of Arts in Library Science. In 1980, the Whistlers moved to San Diego, where Jim worked at the Northwestern Mutual office as a manager until 1991, when he decided to go into personal sales. Kathy began a 34-year career in the library profession. She retired from the University of San Diego Legal Research Center in 2014.
In 2017, Jim and Kathy decided use their estate to create an endowment at UI to broaden educational horizons for future generations of students.
“It’s another way to give back, to create a legacy for education in Idaho,” Jim said.
“Post-high school education is expensive. Sustainability requires long-term funding.”
“We are both confident that the leadership of our respective colleges will use the funds to best serve their students,” Kathy said. “The administration knows better than we do where the resources are most needed and how they should be allocated.”
Gifts to these funds are flexible and allow colleges to invest in the most immediate and strategic needs of the college. Gifts to the Excellence Fund can be used immediately while gifts to the Excellence Fund Endowment will build over time and provide annual support to the Excellence Fund.
“We give in hopes of replicating among young Idahoans the quality of education that we enjoyed,” Kathy, noted. “I received an excellent education, which served as a foundation for graduate studies and my career.”
To create your own legacy at the University of Idaho, go to .
By Joshua Nishimoto, Marketing Communications, Advancement