William J. Spillman, the only American to independently rediscover Mendel’s Law of Heredity – which describes how traits are passed on genetically – and is credited for gaining acceptance of hereditary science among his fellow scientists and farmers, will be honored in a ceremony attended by State Sen. Mark Schoesler and WSU President V. Lane Rawlins at the Spillman Memorial Stone in the Clark Hall Plaza, near the intersection of Wilson Road and Lincoln Drive.
Spillman was a pioneer wheat breeder whose first wheat varieties were released in 1905, according to Steve Jones, WSU wheat breeder.
“They were grown for more than 50 years,” Jones said, “and the genes from those varieties can be found in the pedigrees of today's wheats."
Less known is the fact that Spillman also played a role in teaching football to the college’s first team back in 1894.
Spillman and William Goodyear, a Palouse newspaperman, helped teach elements of the game to the institution’s earliest football team, which did not have a paid coach until 1900, according to E.A. Bryan, author of “Historical Sketch of the State College of Washington 1890 -1925.”
The 45-minute public dedication precedes this weekend’s home football game between WSU and the
Note to editors: Steve Jones, who is the unofficial historian of the WSU wheat breeding program, will be available for interviews either in person or by phone on Friday. He can be reached at 509-335-6198. The dedication plaque is currently in place and digital images of Professor Spillman can be obtained by contacting Dennis Brown, information specialist, at 509-335-2930 or email@example.com)