Ben ('51) and Elaine Whiteley ('53) have long exemplified a deep commitment to service, to actively helping others without thought or expectation of reward or attention.
Ben grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, where he became interested in the insurance company where his father worked and eventually transitioned into actuarial science.
When his family moved to Portland, Ben transferred to Oregon State after spending one semester at the University of Iowa. In the 1950s, OSU did not offer an actuarial program, so Ben studied business and technology, filling his elective courses with mathematics.
He met Elaine Yunker, daughter of OSU Physics professor Edwin Yunker, on a blind date. Three years later, they married one week after graduation Elaine graduated from OSU after studying secretarial science and then home economics 1953. That was 63 years ago.
Ben earned a master’s degree in mathematics at the University of Michigan before serving as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force for three years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
“I got a direct appointment as an officer in the Air Force doing mathematical and statistical research,” explained Ben.
Elaine was able to put her secretarial skills to work on the base before giving birth to their first son, Steve.
January 1, 1956. That was the first day of Ben’s career at Portland-based Standard Insurance Company, where he would work for 39 years. He served as CEO from 1983-94 and continued serving on their board until 2000—a total of 44 years.