PULLMAN, Wash. — Chris Rettkowski learned first-hand the positive impact his mother has on other people’s lives, including his own. When his father died of a brain tumor four and a half years ago, Chris was in the final stage of high school and preparing to move on to college. He and his sister, Lynne, were left looking for answers.
Their mother, Becky Rettkowski, became “the glue that held the family together,” he said in a letter successfully nominating her for 2003 Washington State University Mom of the Year. By example, she taught her children not to question their destinies, but instead make the best of what they have.
After his dad’s death, Chris said his mother became “the central person” in his life. Becky Rettkowski and four other finalists for WSU Mom were recognized April 12 during the Mom’s Weekend Brunch on campus. They were selected from 29 candidates nominated by their student sons and daughters at WSU.
Nothing could replace the love his mother has provided, Chris said. Her constant support allowed him to focus on attaining his dreams. At times when he thought about quitting, she was there to cheer him up.
She supported his decision to enroll at WSU and pursue a degree in sport management, even though she knew it meant he would not likely return to the multi-generation family farm at Wilbur. After he graduates in May, he plans to pursue a master’s degree and a career in sport administration at Florida State University.
“Mom is a caring, loving, and devoted person, like most mothers. What makes her different is her desire to care for others, even those she has never met,” he wrote in his letter. “Her caring demeanor never waivers. She never asks for anything in return for her giving.”
Becky Rettkowski earned a degree in home economics from Whitworth, but adopted WSU when Lynne (’97 Ornamental Horticulture) enrolled.
As a farm mom, her care extends far beyond her own family and children. She’s been a Cub Scout leader, served on the Eagle Scout board of review, and chaired fund-raising activities for Scouts, and for the maintenance and operation of the local swimming pool. She’s mentored students in the elementary school who are struggling in math and English. She addition she donates time at the church daycare center, serves on the endowment committee, and co-chairs the “Christmas on the Hill” charity event that benefits children. She balances her volunteer activities by helping out at her daughter’s floral shop in Wilbur.
“My mother really tires to never miss out on anything at or connected to WSU, despite her busy schedule at home,” Chris said. “Mom’s Weekend might be her favorite time of the year. Sometimes I think she likes being here (WSU) more than I do.”
Other finalist included Nga Pham, Des Moines, nominated by her daughter C. Ann Duong; Delena Sunday, Renton, nominated by her daughter, Christina Hardy; Barbara Walters, Farmington, N.M., nominated by her daughter McKenzie Martin, and Candance Weber, Kirkland, nominated by her daughter Jennifer Archer.