RENTON, Wash. – The late Ormand John (O.J.) Harper of Issaquah donated $50,000 to the Renton Technical College (RTC) Foundation in support of scholarships for students in the precision machining technologies (PMT) program. The funds will also support the Foundation’s current emergency services program. “O.J. Harper’s generous gift will help many current and future students achieve their educational aspirations and, in turn, add to our economy and community,” said Dr. Kevin McCarthy, President of Renton Technical College.
Mr. Harper was an entrepreneur in the commercial aerospace industry and began his career in procurement for the Boeing B-17 bomber during the 1940s. In the early 1950s, Harper left Boeing to begin his own company, OJ Harper Sales Company, and then Harper Engineering in 1967. In 2011, the Boeing Company recognized Harper Engineering as “Supplier of the Year”.
RTC’s PMT program prepares students for manufacturing careers. “According to annual college data, there is a 100% estimated employment rate for graduates of our program,” says Heather Winfrey, Executive Dean for Workforce, Trades & Economic Development. “The three year average starting wage for graduates is $18.30, so this is truly a viable pathway in the Puget Sound region.”
Harper’s love for entrepreneurship was exceeded only by his generosity. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Mae Harper of Issaquah, daughter Sue Dunn and husband Kailan Dunn of Naches, daughter Linda McCabe and husband Andrew Levesque of Covington, son Bruce Hamilton and wife Lynne Hamilton of Bellingham, daughter Stacie Peterson and husband Darrell Peterson of Seattle, and son Larry Daigle of Renton, as well as 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
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