Saint Martin's Abbey pays tribute by formally naming college's latest building projects

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Lacey, Wash. - Names have been chosen by Saint Martin’s Abbey for two Saint Martin's College facilities being added to the campus in coming months, the abbey has announced.

A new college residence hall, planned for a fall 2005 opening, will bear the name of college President David R. Spangler, who earlier this month announced his plans to retire next summer.

The college’s dining hall, on which a large, new addition is nearing completion, will be named St. Gertrude Dining Hall in memory of the Benedictine Sisters of St. Gertrude Monastery. The dining hall in the Old Main building has served generations of students, but has had no formal name until now.

In an announcement Tuesday to the college community, Saint Martin’s Abbot Neal Roth, O.S.B., said the Saint Martin¹s Abbey Corporation was pleased to find an appropriate way to honor both the college’s longest-serving president and the Benedictine nuns who faithfully served the institution from 1904 to 1954.

“Our decision to call the new residential building ‘David R. Spangler Hall’ is a modest recognition of Dr.
Spangler¹s many years of service,” he said. “When I called him, I pointed out that while the other halls are named after previous Saint Martin’s abbots, the abbots served as presidents of the school at the same time. Dr. Spangler is not a monk but he might as well be because he¹s been here so long.”

Spangler, currently in his 20th year as the college’s president, successfully led the college through difficult financial times in the mid-1980s and oversaw numerous upgrades and additions to its programs and facilities, including the O’Grady Library and Worthington Conference Center. Climbing enrollment under his presidency, especially in recent years, pressed the need for both the new residence hall and the dining room addition. The 46,000-square-foot residence hall, the first being built in 40 years, will have space for 100 students.

In recalling the many nuns from the Cottonwood, Idaho, monastery who came to operate the school’s kitchens, Abbot Neal said they labored hard to feed the students, staff, faculty and monks of Saint Martin¹s.

“They did it the old, hard way, ­ with everything bought fresh or brought fresh from the farm then on campus and prepared from scratch,” he said. “It wasn't fancy, but it was wholesome. They also brought a lovely feminine spirit with them -- they were hospitable and very kind.”

His personal memories of the nuns are many, and include a particular day when he and another young novice were hard at work washing the dining room’s windows.

“One of the sisters came out with an entire pie and a pitcher of ice-cold milk from the dairy, insisting we take a break. It was typical,” he said. “They mothered you, and the students always appreciated them.”

He said a few of the nuns are still alive and will be invited to attend a dedication of the dining hall this fall. The new dining room facility, which includes a renovation completed last fall and a new addition that will seat 112, is expected to open in time for the 2004-05 academic year.

For more information:
Deanna Partlow
Media coordinator / senior editor
360-438-4541 or