Old Spark Still Burns

It started out as a pretty normal night.

Rich Ryan, a resident assistant in Walter Hall, had given tours to prospective students earlier in the day. He was hanging out with friends, playing cribbage and snacking on chocolate chip cookies.

Another friend had invited one of the seniors touring campus — Marcia Pogue — to join in the fun.

“We had a quiet evening, playing cribbage and having a nice time,” Rich recalled. “Then it broke up, and everybody went to bed.”

RyansA few hours later, the evening was no longer quiet. Rich woke up to lights and sirens. It was March 27, 1975, and Marsh Hall was ablaze.

He doesn’t remember everything that happened that night — “There was a lot going on,” he said — but he remembers Marcia walking up to him.

“Marcia comes up and says, ‘What’s all this?’

“I said, ‘It’s in your honor. They’re burning the school down.’

“She chuckled at that, and we stood there and talked and watched.”

Forty years later, they are still talking and laughing — and the spark that caught that night outside of the infamous fire is still ablaze.

Rich went on to earn his doctor of optometry degree from Pacific in 1979, the same year Marcia graduated with a degree in speech pathology. He’s still working as an optometrist, and she’s a speech-pathologist at Eastern State Hospital near Spokane, where they live.

Their marriage has yielded three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Just weeks ago, they found one of their keepsakes from the fire: The check for Marcia’s application fee was singed and was sent back asking for a new one.

“We still have that burnt check. We run into it every so often,” Rich said. “That started us off with our relationship.”

Marsh Hall, meanwhile, was renovated and rededicated in 1977.

“At the time, we didn’t know if it could be rebuilt. It was such a gorgeous building,” Rich said. “Now, it’s even better than it was before.

“It’s just one of those nice little things that came out of something not so nice.”

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