Brian and Louanne Horsfield met at UC Davis in 1966. He’d just begun his post-graduate research in engineering, and was living in a house on Russell Boulevard. She resided in Malcolm Hall, and was working toward her bachelor of arts in Letters and Science. Their eyes locked across the crowded Segundo Dining Commons.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Just shy of half a century later, Brian and Louanne have announced a bequest expectancy of $400,000, to create an endowed scholarship of roughly $14,000 per year for undergraduate students in the College of Engineering.
“I know there are engineering students who possess great capabilities, but are short on means,” Brian explains. “As a result, they’re compelled to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation, with every intention of eventually returning to earn a post-graduate degree. But 20 years later, they’re still making that promise to themselves, with no greater chance of seeing it through.
“We hope that our endowment gives some of those students the financial ability to remain in school, and obtain those master’s degrees and doctorates.”
“I’m tremendously impressed by the tools that young engineers have, and the great potential they have for using such tools,” Louanne adds. “We want to better enable that process.”
During long and happy lives that have been busy with family and careers, the Horsfields found time for several small business endeavors. Brian earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering at UC Davis in 1971, by which time he and Louanne had opened one of Davis’ first copy shops — Johnny Print — at Third and A streets, with a satellite kiosk on the other side of campus, in University Mall.
When Brian accepted his first faculty assignment at Purdue University, he and Louanne brought their copy shop business to Indiana. Their enterprise eventually expanded to 10 outlets in several more states, including Oregon and Kentucky. They returned to California in 1974, when Brian joined the UC Davis College of Engineering and taught agricultural engineering for two years.
Brian was later hired by Weyerhaeuser, which prompted a move to the Seattle/Tacoma region of Washington. He became a vital member of Weyerhaeuser’s R&D team, with his name attached to 11 company patents. One of his biggest projects involved the development of recyclable produce boxes for supermarket use, to replace the previous “waxy” boxes which couldn’t be recycled. He eventually rose to become a senior R&D project engineer, and finally retired from Weyerhaeuser in 2008.
The Horsfields returned to Davis — “For the third time,” she laughs — in order to be closer to family. Both Brian and Louanne have become dedicated volunteers at their local church; Brian served on the Davis Business and Economic Development Commission.
Brian and Louanne have attended UC Davis convocations each year, inspired by what they see. They’ve also been loyal and generous UC Davis supporters. Donations to the College of Letters and Science’s Annual Fund has made them members of the Herbert A. Young Society; they’ve also endowed the UC Davis Symphony’s Tracy McCarthy Cello Chair.
“As an alum, it’s heartwarming to know that your school makes a difference,” Louanne said, when interviewed a few years ago. “We have a sense that we are part of something much bigger. UC Davis is a tremendous organization.”
– By Derrick Bang