PULLMAN, Wash.–A pair of Olympia residents, Winnifred Castle Olsen and Ernest “Babe’ Mutzako, received Washington State University’s Alumni Achievement Award Oct. 27 at a dinner at Genoa’s on the Bay Restaurant in Olympia.
Much of Olsen’s life has been devoted to promoting education, history, and community service.
Mutzako, who brokers stocks and bonds for Dean Security, devotes much of his free time to helping others.
For six years, Olsen wrote and produced “Tacoma Beginnings,” a half-hour television series. She also is the author of a series of publications called “For the Record, the History of the Tacoma Public Schools, 1869-1984.” She received the National School Public Relations Association’s Golden Achievement Award for the publications.
One of Olsen’s main projects has been creating an awareness of the minority presence in Washington history. For more than 20 years, she lobbied for the recognition of early settler George Washington Bush, a free black man, who came to what is now the Tumwater area in 1845 from Missouri with his wife and children. She first learned of Bush when she worked as a guide at the State Capitol Museum. A interpretive monument with plaque was erected in honor of the Bush Family in Olympia last February.
Following her retirement in 1983, Olsen was editor of the “Labor History Study Guide, K-12” for the Washington State Department of Education. In 1985, the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association named her Labor History Person of the Year. In 1993, she was recipient of the Murray Morgan Achievement Award from the Tacoma Historical Society for helping document, preserve and present the heritage of Tacoma and its people. She is author of two social studies texts: “Before Tacoma – What?” and “Tacoma’s Beginnings.”
For more than a dozen years, Muzatko has been making monthly trips to the Washington State Reformatory at Monroe, where he spent the weekends bringing music, counseling and a spiritual message to those inmates attending sessions of KAIROS, a Christian outreach program. He also visits nursing homes in the Olympia area at least once a week as part of his church’s outreach endeavors.
“He is a loyal alum who translates his devotion to WSU and others into dedicated actions…an outstanding humanitarian who gives time and energy to all,” read one letter nominating Muzatko for his WSU award.
As a WSU undergraduate, Mutzako was a member of the ASWSU Board of Control; Crimson Circle, senior men’s service honorary; president of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity; and was voted one of WSU’s Ten Outstanding Seniors. He returned to WSU to complete a degree in political science after his education was interrupted by a two-year military stint as an Army navigator aboard a B-24 in the Pacific during World War II.
After graduating, Muzatko served as a traveling secretary for Lambda Chi Alpha, then was a district manager for Equitable Life Insurance in California and Texas. He later moved to Olympia, where he was named “Boss of the Year” by the Business Women’s Association.
He served as northern California district director for the WSU Alumni Association for 10 years. For the past 18 years in Olympia, he has continued his endeavors on behalf of WSU as a deputy director of the South Sound district. He also is active in the WSU Cougar Club and for years has chaired the alumni committee that seeks lodging from alumni hosts for student members of the Crimson Company show choir when it is on tour around the state.
Muzatko also is active in Rotary and the YMCA.
Olsen earned a degree in sociology at WSU in 1938 and returned to her native Olympia, where much of her time was devoted to community service projects–Easter Seal, Red Cross, March of Dimes, and the Mayor’s Downtown Rehabilitation Committee. Twice she has received awards for her public relations work. In 1996, she was named Tumwater Historian of the Year.
As a WSU undergraduate, she was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority; Phi Beta Kappa, scholastic honorary; Mortar Board, senior honor society; and was named one of the “Big Five” senior women. She was president of Theta Sigma Phi, women’s journalism honorary, and received the Outstanding Woman in Journalism Award from the organization. She has been a member of the American Association of University Women since 1938, and was state president in 1963.
In 1960, she was a state delegate to the White House Conference on Children and Youth in Washington, D.C. She continues to serve on the Washington State Fulbright Committee.