Mike Ingersoll lives on at the U of N

NevadaStateMuseumA while back I lamented the impending departure of a couple of University of Nevada campus names that became hallowed to students and alums in the last 40 years – the Getchell Library and the Jot Travis Student Union – both buildings being replaced by newer facilities with newer names.

Comes now our college contemporary and later the popular long-time principal of Reed High School Tim Griffin, who reminds us that another revered facility name is on the endangered species list, the Mike Ingersoll Associated Students of the University of Nevada Senate Room within the doomed Jot. I could write now that Mike – (“Foot,” he was known as) – was the consummate BMOC but that dated 1960s mnemonic would probably be lost on 61.3 per cent of our Saturday morning readers. A Big Man on Campus, Foot was; his effusive presence and great sense of humor transcended graduating class and fraternity and sorority lines (he was an Alpha Tau Omega), and he was elected ASUN president in 1965. I remember him best for organizing a campus-wide blood donor drive for Vietnam casualties, with nary a warm-blooded mammal setting boot or paw north of Ninth Street and east of North Virginia Street spared – probably the most successful such drive ever carried out in Reno.

And Foot gave the first unit…

Mike would die in a skydiving accident before he graduated with his 1966 class (Sigma Nu Bill Chaffin took over for the remainder of that year.) A campaign grew to a huge groundswell gaining campus-wide support from all – students and faculty alike – and the room in the Jot devoted to ASUN business was named in his memory.

Regrettably but inevitably, 40 years later Mike’s name over the ASUN Senate Room’s doors means little to the current students, indeed just as the name “Jot Travis” itself is vague to many, but be assured that there remains a large cadre of us Homefinder alums still out here that recall Mike’s name fondly, and implore those on the Hill who make such facility-naming decisions to keep the memory of a guy from our era alive in the new student union facility.



Our Nevada State Museum in Carson City (pictured above) is doing a cool thing: As within most museums space is available to display only a fraction of the artifacts and mementoes that they house. Our museum has started a “Behind-the-Scenes” display, periodically delving in the darker reaches of the storage rooms and bringing assets up to the light of day – watch for news of these special displays being carried in this paper – it’s worth a trip south, especially on the new freeway extension.

            One motivation to include all this on page 10 is to remind newer readers and residents that the grand old museum saw its first use as a federal mint, placed near the Nevada source of silver and gold and opening in 1870. It closed in 1893, and if you’ve got an 1893CC Morgan cartwheel or Double Eagle gold piece in the ol’ jewelry box, it’d look mighty fine in a belt buckle.

            And to give credit where due, the Silver State is grateful to Max and Sarah Fleischmann, they of the yeast fortune, who shortly after their arrival to Nevada to set up residency here in the 1930s endowed the museum, then somewhat floundering, with a grant necessary to convert the building from a mint to a museum – and continued the endowment for two more decades for construction and artifact acquisition.

            As kids a trip to Carson City and the museum was a slam-dunk requisite of our education (just as was singing “Home Means Nevada” every Friday morning in school!) and the descent down into the mock “mineshaft” beneath the museum was a memory we carry with us for a lifetime.


In last week’s raw text I spelled a reference to the Spreckels family right but my spell-checker recognizes “spreckles” as a word, whatever a spreckle is, and kindly converted it to thus for me automatically. I alone take the rap for letting Spreckle get loose. On the bright side, I did get it right a long time ago in connection with the Spreckels family endowing San Francisco’s Palace of the Legion of Honor. So I’m batting .500 on Spreckels, Sugar.

            Milestones: We say goodbye later this morning to Jim Puryear. “Bud” had at least two firsts in his lengthy tenure with the Washoe County School District: He was our P.E. coach in his first year with the district in 1951 in Central Junior High’s first year of existence, and later was the inaugural principal of Jessie Beck Elementary School when it opened in 1958. I’ve scribed his name several times in this column as a great candidate for a school name, but thus far with no success (yet!). Jim was a hell of a guy, a good friend to us all, student-through-adulthood.

            And, we said hello last Friday night to Julia Michelle Breckenridge, born to Brent and Laura Breckenridge in San Mateo. She’s already interning to take over Gramp’s page 10 in 2038, that year coinciding with real estate editor Bob Brundage’s retirement from the Gazoo.

                I’m advised by George Smith, the Guru-of-Grain at Ralston Foods on East Greg Street whose Accident-free day count we’ve long been including in this column, that the plant two weeks ago reached 5 accident-free years, with a whopping 1,769,000 hours worked with no one getting sliced, diced, crushed, boiled or stuffed into a boxcar. Ralston treated the whole staff to dinner at Famous Murphy’s, and no, Rice Chex and corn flakes weren’t on the menu. Nor were Spreckles. Nicely done, all 150 of you Ralston Folks!

            Have a good week; be as safe as the Ralston folks, write a U of N regent near you about keeping Foot’s room-name alive, and God bless America.



2 thoughts on “Mike Ingersoll lives on at the U of N

  1. A wonderful column about a young man who died almost 50 years ago but I’m writing mostly about Bud Puryear. I met him and his wife Jeanette when we were teaching on the Jr. Ski Program and found out he was the principal of my children’s elementary school Mamie Towles. He was one of my favorite people…thanks for the remembrance. Phyllis

    • Phyllis, Jim was indeed a great guy; we met him first in 1951 when we started the first year of Central Jr. Hi and he was our PE instructor. I wrote a column pitching a school to be named for him and had a ton of responses, I think you included, but it didn’t work. Yet. Thanks for writing, Karl

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