History of UW Bothell campus, Truly

Truly house in 1996
The Truly ranch house in 1996. Courtesy of Jeff Truly

Jeff Truly is a member of the University of Washington Bothell staff, a control technician in facility services. If the Truly name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s a member of the family that owned a cattle ranch on most of the land where UW Bothell now sits.

The Boone-Truly house on campus isn’t just the office for the Teaching & Learning Center. It’s the home his grandfather built, where many family gatherings over the years are warm memories.

Prime real estate

1978 corral. Courtesy of Jeff Truly

For the University’s 30th anniversary, Truly shared more family photos. He has many that show an active beef ranch. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the herd reached its peak of 450 polled (naturally hornless) Herefords that grazed on both sides of I-405.

Visible in the distance of some photos are the freeway, the NE 195th Street overpass and the ramp over the freeway interchange with Highway 522. It was the freeway that led Truly’s parents to foresee what eventually would happen.

Looking northeast
Looking northeast from the ranch. Courtesy of Jeff Truly

“They knew it wasn’t going to be a farm or a ranch — wouldn’t be agricultural land forever,” he said.

Many developers wanted the prime location, but the family was pleased to see it chosen as the site of the shared UW Bothell and Cascadia College campus, Truly said. The state purchased the land in 1996. “I think the university will always be here, at least that’s my hope.”

From homestead to campus

Beverly Boone Truly
Beverly Boone Truly. Courtesy of Jeff Truly

Once home to the Coast Salish Willow People, the land was homesteaded by George Wilson, an early settler who died in 1916. Then the property was acquired by Truly’s grandfather, Benjamin Boone, a colorful character who loved ranching and being a cowboy.

After his death in 1960, the land was sold to Benjamin Boone’s youngest daughter Beverly and her husband Richard Truly — Jeff’s parents. Richard Truly was a Boeing engineer who would fly a small plane to work at Boeing Field in Seattle, taking off and landing from a small strip in the pasture. He wore rubber boots in the pasture and changed to dress shoes to walk to the office.

When he grew up, Jeff Truly operated a nursery and landscaping business. Because of his experience, he was hired by the University in 2000 to oversee the upper campus ornamental and the wetland irrigation systems. He now focuses on management of the heating and cooling water systems on campus.

Truly also attended UW Bothell and graduated in 2004 with a Business degree. His daughter also graduated in Business in 2006. Another memory: They had one class together.

Stories worth remembering

Jeff Truly with family photos
Jeff Truly with family photos

Tyson Kemper, the campus grounds supervisor, said it’s incredible to have somebody like Jeff Truly still on the property.

Truly has a story for every snapshot and yellowed news clipping he pulls out of a box of keepsakes. He’d love to see them compiled in a book or historical collection before too much more time passes.

“That becomes more important, because no one will be here to remember the colorful characters and activities that took place here on the ranch and in this valley,” he said. “I have heard so many incredible stories and know they are only a small piece of what took place here — what was here and why that was here.”

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