Novak Family Scholarship

Novak Family Scholarship

Walter M. Novak was born on April 19, 1921, the second son of Michael and Apolonia, Polish immigrants who had arrived in America just after the turn of the century. They were determined that their two sons receive a college education and through years of hard work in Hoquiam mills, survival through the Great Depression, and with help from their large vegetable garden, fishing, and clamming they were able to send both sons to the University of Washington where they each received Mechanical Engineering degrees. 

World War II was underway when Walter graduated. He had entered the naval ROTC program so he received his commission at graduation and took his wife Barbara (an Aberdeen High School graduate) and baby daughter to his first assignment in San Francisco to await his ship’s deployment. When the cruiser Reno left the harbor, Walter was the officer in charge of the engine room at age 22 and there he met a sailor, Ned Rogers, who was to change the course of his life.

After the war, Walter returned to his family (and a new baby son) in Seattle and worked at Puget Sound Sheet Metal Works until he received a call from his shipmate Ned who invited him to Portland, Oregon to be a partner in a start-up machinery business. The family moved to Portland in 1951 and that was the beginning of the Rogers Machinery Company which has since expanded to 7 branches in 4 states. 

Originally, it concentrated on agriculture and forest product companies but has evolved to become a major supplier to the high tech and energy industries worldwide. Walter died on November 13, 2003 and now his son, grandson, and niece are carrying on the family tradition at the company. 

Walter has inspired many people throughout his life with his dedicated work ethic, intelligence, honesty, concern and care for his employees and friends and his love for his family. He is the true product of the “American Dream” and these scholarships given in his name are meant to help others achieve their goals.