By Emma Epperly, The Spokesman Review
Photography by Dan Pelle
One hundred years after the Hutton Settlement began accepting orphans, the stately brick buildings and manicured lawns continue to provide a home for 32 children.
The settlement is named after Levi Hutton, a wealthy businessman made his fortune in the North Idaho mines during the early 1900s. Hutton was an orphan and decided to use some of his fortune to create a true home for kids like him instead of the institutions that were common at the time.
The children during those early years at the settlement called him “Daddy Hutton.” After his death in 1928, his entire estate was given to the home that continues to this day to run as a nonprofit.
Hutton kids live in one of four cottages with a couple as their house parents. They attend West Valley schools. This weekend, alumni, staff and the surrounding community celebrated the Hutton centennial.
More than 1,500 children have grown up on Hutton’s campus, which spans 319 acres tucked north of the Spokane River in the hills of the Spokane valley.
Among those kids are alumni, some in their 90s and others who are recent high school graduates. Many look back at their time at Hutton as transformational. Today, we share four short profiles of the countless people Hutton has helped.
Linda White arrived at Hutton a homeless and troubled teen; she left a loved and confident young woman
Linda White graduated from Hutton Settlement six years ago. She recently got engaged and became a mother but still takes the time to mentor children as the big sister of her cottage. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Linda White arrived at the Hutton Settlement when she was 17, homeless and traumatized.
That was nine years ago. She has since learned the power of love, acceptance and the power of expression.
This weekend she celebrated her 26th birthday with many of the people who mean the most to her –her Hutton family.
White grew up in Michigan with her mother and seven siblings. When she was 14 years old, her younger brother died and the family moved to Spokane to be closer to her grandfather.
Her mother became depressed and ill, White said.
“In the hospital, she told us that she just didn’t want to live anymore,” White recalled. “I took that really personal.”
“Yeah, it hurts and it sucks, but we exist, too.”
White’s mother kicked her out of the house. She bounced among group homes and then before she was to begin her senior year of high school, she was placed at Hutton, older than the typical cutoff age of 14.
“I think the biggest difference is that the staff really cares,” White said. “They actually try to make it a family environment.”
She spent her senior year staying up late playing cards and talking with her new cottage family.
Then she moved into the transition program at the alumni building at Hutton. The program helps Hutton kids set up their own lives. They pay rent each month but at the end of their stay that money is returned to them to help get them started.
She became the “big sister” of her former cottage and still takes the younger kids out to roller skate or on other fun adventures.
“I feel really sad that I don’t get to spend as much time here anymore,” White said. “They’ve taught me so much stuff over the years that I definitely have a stronger foundation and morals.”
She remains close to Suzzie and Bert Price, her house parents from her time at Hutton. She plans to have Bert walk her down the aisle at her upcoming wedding.
Bert hates to dress up, but White is set on getting him into a tuxedo and onto the dance floor for the father-daughter dance.
White is the step-mother to her fiance’s three daughters and credits her patience in parenting to her time at Hutton.
“In my birth family, we just don’t talk about anything,” said White. “There’s a lot of emotions that were never really expressed.”
That lack of communication is something she let go at Hutton.
“The biggest thing I learned was how to communicate and actually talk about what’s going on and express yourself in appropriate ways,” White said.
Her goal for the future is to continue building strong family relationship with her biological family, her Hutton Family and the new family she is creating with her fiance.
“I’m just trying to have a stronger family and raise kids in a way that I wasn’t raised and show them a family environment that I didn’t think actually existed – that I just saw in movies,” White said.
Rose McCollum thrived at Hutton and returned the gift
Rose McCollum spent her entire childhood at Hutton and was known as a motherly figure by all the younger children. Now McCollum has 6 children and even adopted one of her daughters from Hutton. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Most nights Rose McCollum would go around to each room in her Hutton Settlement cottage and sing the other girls to sleep.
“No matter how you’re feeling inside you can always make someone else feel better,” McCollum said.
From a young age, she was classically trained in opera and loved to sing everywhere on the Hutton campus.
McCollum arrived at Hutton in 1986 with her two sisters when she was 10. She remembers driving down the long tree-lined lane and up to the large brick administration building.
“My mom had a really hard time raising three little girls and she decided she didn’t want to be a mom anymore,” McCollum said. “So, we just watched her drive off.”
The sisters moved into cottage one and McCollum would live in every bedroom in the house during the next 10 years.
“I kept myself very busy from a very young age,” she said.
She took advantage of the 4H program at Hutton and focused on her grades.
“I think I was a bit of a perfectionist,” McCollum said. “I think the ultimate goal is to always please and do the best that you can so that your birth family will take you back.”
Eventually, Hutton started to feel like home, she said. There were always things to do and people to talk to, which she said kept her mind off her emotions.
After finishing high school, McCollum moved in with a “friendship family,” in the area. Then she got a full-ride scholarship to Whitworth. Her biological parents tried to re-enter her life, which stirred up past trauma, McCollum said. She felt she needed some “serious counseling,” and took the time to work on herself, she said.
After counseling, she became a single foster parent at just 20-years-old.
“I think if you have an opportunity to have a child in your home and let them know that they were loved – even this much – in this life, then you’ve done your job,” McCollum said as she pinched her fingers close together.
“A lot of people can’t heal from trauma, but if you can get past the hurt and live with it then you should give back if you are able,” McCollum said.
Giving back didn’t stop there. McCollum married and knew she wanted to have a large family.
She gave birth to two sons, but both deliveries were difficult. So the couple adopted three girls. One of those girls was a resident at Hutton and came into the McCollum’s lives when she was 15.
The family recently moved to Florida after McCollum retired from her career as an interpreter for the deaf.
The centennial celebration this weekend was a chance to not only see her two sisters but all those little girls she used to sing to sleep who now have families of their own.
Ken Dunlap found faith, family at Hutton Settlement
Ken Dunlap is an 89 year-old alumni that grew up at Hutton Settlement during the 1940s. Following his beloved wife’s passing, he reconnected with Hutton and serves as the proud “Grandpa” of Cottage #3. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Ken Dunlap vividly recalls his first day at Hutton Settlement.
Dunlap’s father had died young at 35, which led his mother to send her five children from their home in Kellogg to a children’s home in Lewiston.
In the year that Dunlap and his siblings lived there, his younger brother died. Shortly after, the siblings were sent to Hutton. It was 1938.
“I was looking at my suitcase and I thought, ‘What is going to happen to me?’” Dunlap said. “When you’re an orphaned kid you never know what’s going to happen to you – it’s out of your control.”
The kids arrived on a Saturday and settled into their new home. The next morning they went to Millwood Presbyterian Church for Sunday school. The teacher there noticed how sad Dunlap was and took him aside. When she asked him what was wrong he replied, “I don’t know anybody,” Dunlap recalled.
“She kind of took me under her wing,” Dunlap said. “She told me, ‘Don’t feel like you’re alone because God loves you.’”
Discovering faith helped shape the rest of Dunlap’s life, he said.
“She kind of saved my life in a way, and I’ve always been faith-filled,” Dunlap said.
Life was good for Dunlap at Hutton but for reasons unknown to him, he was sent to live with a foster family for high school.
After high school, he went right into the Marine Corps Reserve with “a bunch of his friends,” Dunlap said. When the Korean War started, they all were called up to active duty.
After serving in the military, he met and married the love of his life, Joanne. They were together for 62 years.
“I am so blessed. She was the best wife in the world,” Dunlap said.
He started working for Skaggs Automotive and eventually became president of the company. He worked there for 42 years.
Dunlap tried his best to stay involved with Hutton Settlement and remembers mentoring kids.
Then life got busy. He became a deacon in the Catholic church and was away every weekend, “burying somebody or marring somebody,” he said.
Then two years ago, his wife got sick and passed away.
“After she died, I was fine for a while and then I started getting really blue and grieving,” Dunlap said. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do with myself?’ I can’t just shrivel up and die.”
Around that time, two of his best friends from his time at Hutton gave him a call to see if he wanted to visit the settlement and meet the new executive director, Chud Wendle.
“That started a whole new chapter in my life,” Dunlap said.
He got a tour of his old cottage and knew he had to keep coming back, he said. Now Dunlap is fondly called the “grandpa” of cottage three by the Hutton staff, kids and house parents.
At their first dinner together, Dunlap left feeling inspired.
“Those kids seemed happy and that really charged me up,” he said.
Now, he comes for dinner twice a month and never misses a birthday celebration.
“They’re just my life and my happiness,” he said of the cottage three kids.
Dan Race spent five years at Hutton until his dad could afford to bring him home
Dan Race is a Hutton alum who lived on campus from 1989-1994 in Cottage #4, at left. During his time on campus, Race could barely be coaxed inside from playing sports with his roommates. He graduated West Valley HS in 1998 and is currently the facilities coordinator for Horizon Credit Union. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Dan Race was filling up his tank at a gas station a few months ago when he saw a woman loading sandbags into the back of her truck.
“I didn’t realize it was her and I went over and said, ‘Ma’am, can I help you do that?’” Race said.
When the woman turned around, he realized it was Mary Jo Lyonnais-Baun, one of the Hutton Settlement’s long-time staff members .
“I’m like, ‘Get out of the way, Mary Jo, you don’t need to be doing that,’” Race said.
Respect for others, accountability, a strong work ethic and responsibility are all things Race said he learned in his time at Hutton.
When Race was 9 years old, his father was no longer able to care for him and decided to send him to Hutton.
“I was unsure of what was going on here,” Race said.
The first two people he met were his new cottage parents, Bill and Cathy Dunn, who he describes as “friendly grandparents.”
“They were instrumental people in my early days here,” Race said.
Race thrived at Hutton, making fast friends with his new roommates, a pair of brothers named Raymond and Rodney.
The boys played football, soccer and basketball, spending as much time outdoors as they could. “It was hard to get us to go back inside,” Race said.
When Race turned 14, just before his freshman year of high school, his dad was ready for him to come back home.
“I had mixed emotions, I guess,” Race said. “I was excited to go, because I was moving back in with my dad. My dad is my world, so that was pretty exciting for me. It was sad, because I had 40 brothers and sisters that I had been living with and I wouldn’t get to see anymore.”
Race stayed in touch with the staff and siblings he had at Hutton and looks back on his five years there fondly, he said.
“I don’t have any ill will towards him (his dad), as far as me coming here, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be here. I think it shaped who I am today,” Race said.
Race is a father himself, with four children – three boys ages 19, 16 and 14 from a previous marriage and a 2-year old “baby girl.”
He recently got engaged and was looking forward to bringing his fiance to Hutton during the centennial celebrations.
Race continues to give back to Hutton and visits as much as he can.
“Anything that I can ever do to help out or give back in any way, I’m always the first to volunteer to do it,” Race said.
“This place will always hold a special place in my heart.”