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Retired Teacher Endows History Chair

Story by
Nancy Joseph

As part of a vocational test in ninth grade, Don Logan was asked what sort of work he’d like to do. “I wrote ‘history teacher,’” recalls Logan. “I knew at an early age.” 

Logan went on to study history at the UW and then teach at Blaine Junior High School and Ballard High School in Seattle. Now retired, he has decided to support history education in another way: he has made a $1 million gift to the UW History Department to fund the Donald W. Logan Family Endowed Chair in American History.

Don Logan

Don Logan. Media credit: Nancy Joseph

When Logan first arrived at the UW in 1952, his father encouraged him to pursue dentistry. “I found out within one quarter that I was not at all interested in the sciences,” Logan says with a laugh. He soon discovered the history department, where he was inspired by Professors Giovanni Costigan, W. Stull Holt, Max Savelle, Tom Pressly, and others.

Logan earned his bachelor’s degree in 1956. He then spent two years in the army and briefly worked at Boeing before taking a job with the Seattle Public Schools. “I immediately loved being a teacher,” he says. “I worked so hard I’d come home drenched in sweat.”

After seven years at Blaine Junior High School, Logan returned to the UW to earn his master’s degree in history. Then he went on to teach at Ballard High School for 18 years. 

Throughout his teaching career, Logan was busy raising a family. But somehow he found the time—and money—to begin investing in real estate. “My father-in-law, Russell R. Jones, was a prominent Capitol Hill real estate man,” says Logan, “so I picked up a lot of information from him.”

Logan purchased his first house with a $2,000 down payment—using an insurance settlement from a car accident and some of his wife’s savings—and never looked back. First he invested in single-family homes; later he focused on apartments. Eventually he had amassed five apartment buildings and an historic home on Capitol Hill.

“I had to be quite frugal,” says Logan, explaining how he managed to invest in real estate on a public school teacher’s salary. “I had to be assiduous in going about this. I saw it as a way to have an economic base for my family.”

Last year Logan decided to sell all of his real estate holdings, including the historic home that he had painstakingly restored. “The time was right, both in terms of the market and my own interests,” he explains. “Even though I enjoyed the business and it was profitable, I felt that I couldn’t keep the business and do other things I want to do.” 

Don Logan (left), with Professor Emeritus Tom Pressly (center) and John Findlay, chair of the Department of History.

Don Logan (left), with Professor Emeritus Tom Pressly (center) and John Findlay, chair of the Department of History. 

Those “other things” include pursuing his family genealogy, searching for early American antiques, studying the Civil War, and “serious socializing.” As always, history figures prominently in many of Logan’s plans. It makes sense, then, that he used some of his profits to endow a chair in American history.

“I know the impact that education can have,” he explains. Logan spoke with History Chair John Findlay and department faculty about department needs before finalizing his gift. “I learned that faculty salaries at the UW are not commensurate with those at other universities of the same size,” says Logan. “This will help. This chair will be a healthy shot in the arm for the department.” 

Findlay couldn’t be more pleased. “By creating History’s second endowed chair, Don Logan is making a transformative gift,” he says. “It will help with faculty salaries and provide support in other key areas, not the least of which is morale. I see his gift as a vote of confidence in the entire department.”