Long before the historic run to the Final Four® in 2017, Gonzaga University had another team to rally behind - a football team. On game nights, Logan neighborhood boys would flock to Desmet Hall, where Gonzaga students would let them sit on the balcony to watch the game in the stadium below. Don Rockstrom was one of those neighborhood boys, whose childhood playground was Gonzaga’s campus. A born entrepreneur, Rockstrom capitalized on Gonzaga football-mania, turning a vacant lot into parking for spectators and charging 25 cents per car.
“I probably still have the first quarter I made there,” he recalled. “It was good money back then and I didn’t want to spend it.”
Rockstrom opened a bank account and from that point on was very intentional with money. He earned his degree in economics and accounting at Eastern Washington University and after a brief time in the military, enjoyed success first with Freya Street Lumber Company, then as a sales representative for Kaiser Gypsum and finally as a significant orchard owner in Central Washington. All the while, Rockstrom saved and invested wisely.
“Gonzaga was part of my life,” said Rockstrom. “My grandfather Claus Rockstrom, a Swedish immigrant, was a key player at the turn of the century in securing the land near Gonzaga as a site for the McGoldrick Lumber Company. As a kid, I played handball against the back of the Admin building. Later, when I worked for Kaiser Gypsum, I sold all the drywall and plaster materials for several of the buildings on Gonzaga’s campus.”
Today, Rockstrom and his wife, Donna, a retired accountant, are passionate about higher education and creating opportunities for students. They established the Donald W. Rockstrom Endowed Scholarship for students pursuing degrees in business administration and have made plans to add to the fund through a gift in their will and through several gift annuities. In addition, the Rockstroms also gave in support of the John J. Hemmingson Center, where their names can be found in the Center for Student Involvement.
“A college education was influential in helping me succeed,” Rockstrom explained. “Donna and I just felt it right to provide support for students who need it.”