Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith presented the 2019 Southeast Washington Association of School Administrators Community Leadership award to Gene Gossett. Gene was born and raised in Walla Walla and graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1964. A highlight of his high school years was his three years in the Junior ROTC program as the Rifle Team Captain. He later helped raise funds for Walla Walla High School’s state-of-the-art rifle range where he turned on the lights for the first time and fired the first shot.
Following high school, Gene joined the US Navy Reserve which he continued through the mid-1970’s. He was on active duty from 1968-70 and was detached to Marine Air Operations combat in South Vietnam. He was also a member of the All Navy Rifle Team and was US Navy South Pacific Rifle Match winner. He is also a Distinguished Expert Marksman, Range Master and Firearms Instructor through the National Rifle Association.
After his military service, he began a career as an independent home improvement contractor in the greater Walla Walla area before a career change to the Department of Corrections. During his 20 year tenure at the Washington State Penitentiary, he served as a Correctional Sergeant and Engineering Construction Supervisor. He spent the last eight years of his career as a school bus driver for Walla Walla Public Schools.
Gene remains an active volunteer with the 100 year old Walla Walla High School JROTC program. In 2013, he founded the JROTC Boosters to financially support JROTC and promote the program. He remains president of the organization to this day. Gene regularly works with students in the JROTC program, travels to meets and advocates for their behalf to the school board and other elected officials.
Gene is also a leader in other organizations in our community. He is a board member for the Reserve Officers Association and a member of Amvets. He serves on the Walla Walla Gun Club board and is treasurer of the Blue Mountain Corvette Club. Gene is a member of the Eastgate Lions Club, Pheasants Forever Service Club and National Rifle Association.
Gene’s father John was a US Army World War II Battalion Commander in the South Pacific before owning and operating Gossett Lumber & Hardware in Walla Walla for 20 years. His mother Anne Gossett was a 3rd grade teacher at Paine Elementary for 20 years and a volunteer aide at Prospect Point Elementary for several years. His son John is a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. John is a 2013 graduate of Walla Walla High School where he served as JROTC Battalion Commander. He is a Central Washington University and Air Force ROTC graduate.
Gene enjoys light aviation, snow skiing, vintage Corvettes and working with youth as a trap shooting instructor. In closing, thanks to veteran Gene Gossett for helping realize the district’s vision of Developing Washington’s Most-Sought After Graduates. Please join Walla Walla Public Schools in recognizing Gene Gossett for his service to the school district and community.