A Teacher's Story

William WadeBefore he came to San Diego State College at age 20, William Wade witnessed things no young man should see. He saw the "utter devastation" of Tokyo after U.S. pilots firebombed the city during the Pacific Campaigns of WWII. And he saw Japanese women begging for the garbage from American ships harbored in Tokyo Bay after Japan surrendered in August 1945.

Wade, '50, had been deployed to the Philippines on a ship scheduled to engage in the U.S. invasion of Japan. Surrender changed the script, however, and Wade's convoy instead took part in the post-war occupation.

Confined to the ship, Wade and fellow seamen grew bored and curious. They wanted to explore the city and, against orders, they left the ship — only to be apprehended a short time later. It was the first of dozens of travel adventures Wade would have during his lifetime. He's visited more than 100 countries since, including a return to Japan in 1975.

After his military service, Wade found a job at the Naval Air Station in San Diego and joined what was at the time the largest class of incoming students ever to enroll at San Diego State College. Many were fellow veterans. Wade began as an engineering major, but soon switched to business, then known as commerce. There would be one more switch before he left the campus.

"When I became a senior, I had not yet decided to be a teacher," Wade said. "But I liked college so much that I looked for something to keep me connected with education. I had to take an additional year of classes to qualify as a teacher, but it was a good decision. My time at San Diego State was one of the best times of my life."

Wade taught math and business for 31 years in four different junior high and high schools within the San Diego Unified School District and at Mesa Community College. Drawing on SDSU coursework in economics, he also invested in the stock market, starting small in the 1960s, and continuing to build his portfolio through the decades.

This year, he established an endowment to fund scholarships for students in the Division of Undergraduate Studies at SDSU.

"Naturally, I'd like to do something to make a difference in the lives of students who could not go to college without financial help," Wade said. His support combines annual gifts of cash with a large planned gift so that SDSU can immediately begin awarding scholarships in his name.

"My plan is to contribute cash each year and then my estate will go mostly to the university," he said. "I believe that providing scholarships for deserving students is an extremely good investment."