Winifred Sawaya Wasden


(Feb. 4, 2007)

A memorial service will be conducted Friday, Feb. 9, at 11 a.m. at the Nelson Auditorium at Northwest College for Winifred Sawaya Wasden, professor emerita of English at NWC, who died peacefully Sunday, Feb. 4 at Powell Valley Hospital. She was 68.

She was born April 15, 1938, to George and Letta Sawaya in Kemmerer. After growing up in Kemmerer, Winifred attended the University of Wyoming and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, setting the stage for a lifetime of teaching and scholarship focused on her love of language.

Winifred was married to John F. Wasden in 1960 and began her teaching career in Worland shortly thereafter. Upon moving to Powell, Winifred joined the Northwest College faculty in 1964, rising from adjunct to full professor in her 37-year career. While rearing two children, she began several programs within the college, expanding the offerings within the Humanities Division to include folklore, the study of the Bible as literature and women’s studies. In her work, and work with her students, she enjoyed the challenge of finding new life in old works and pushing the boundaries of understanding the roles of women in history and culture. To extend her own knowledge, she studied at Indiana University and the University of Utah during sabbaticals from NWC.

Winifred was active in the Powell community, singing with the Sugar and Spice group in the 1970’s, serving as a member of the city Planning and Zoning Commission, representing the community on the Wyoming Council for the Humanities and participating in community discussions on topics as diverse as women’s roles in agriculture to increasing diversity in Wyoming.

Her love of books began as a child and continued to her last days. While she wrote many stories and academic articles, she chose to list herself as editor in her 1998 publication, “Modern Pioneers,” in honor of the women who shared their life stories of settling the Big Horn Basin. She advised local authors, edited several books and served as a reviewer for the Western Historical Quarterly. Perhaps most importantly, she shared her love of books with her friends, her children and grandchildren, who loved nothing more than to curl up on her lap and read stories until they were fast asleep.

While she accomplished much in her career, her most cherished moments were with her family and friends. She counted herself blessed with many long-standing friendships in the community and found delight in meeting new people in any forum. Her membership in the Powell Rotary Club was a testament to her love of her neighbors and her desire to better the Powell community.

Preceded in death by her parents, Winifred is survived by her husband; her children and their families, Frederic and Kay Wasden, Katherine and Benjamin of Houston, Texas, and Carol Wasden and Troy Neeriemer, Henry and James of Westminster, Colo.; her younger brothers, George Sawaya of Colorado Springs, Colo., and John Sawaya of Kemmerer.

Following the memorial service, there will be a reception in the DeWitt Student Center. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held in Kemmerer on Saturday, Feb. 17 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. Burial will follow in Kemmerer.

Memorial donations may be made to the Winifred Sawaya Wasden Fund in care of the NWC Foundation.