In Memoriam

In Memoriam


Honoring the Heritage University friends and family we’ve lost.


The Heritage family lost a beloved member this summer when Jim Barnhill passed away in August. He was 92. Barnhill’s connection to Heritage and its students went back to the university’s infancy. For 36 years, he and his wife Dee, who preceded him in death last year, provided philanthropic support for student scholarships and campus development. They established the Jim and Dee Barnhill Scholarship in the mid- 1990s, an endowed fund that will support students in perpetuity. Additionally, they were lead supporters of the construction of the Arts and Sciences Center, as well as the construction of five buildings built between 2015 and 2018, one of which houses The Barnhill Fireside Room, named in their honor.

Barnhill was a dedicated friend and advisor who provided his unique insights to the university Advancement team, frequently inviting them to his home to share “mocha moments.”

In addition to his commitment to Heritage, he was a member of the Yakima Rotary and served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce, United Way, New Vision and the Yakima Valley Libraries Board of Trustees. He was a dedicated newspaperman whose career spanned 47 years and ultimately led to serving as the publisher of the Yakima Herald for 16 years until his retirement in 1996.

Well-loved Yakima Valley philanthropist and long-time Heritage University supporter Marie Halverson passed away on October 21. She was 90 years old.

Halverson and her husband of 63 years, Fred, who preceded her in death in 2020, were pillars of the Yakima community who were active volunteers with several organizations and generous contributors to the causes they supported. Marie was a 50-year member of the Florence White Guild, a volunteer with Memorial Hospital, and served on The Burke Museum’s board of directors. Her support of Heritage University goes back 26 years.

She is survived by her four children: Craig Halverson, Korynne Wright (Jeffrey), Kristin Luttinen (Scott), and Kathryne Garland (William III).

In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations be made to Halverson’s favorite charities, including Heritage University.


Tragedy struck the Heritage family on October 15 when student Aspen Hart passed away from injuries sustained in a car accident. She was 18 years old.

Aspen was a junior majoring in Elementary Education who had just started her academic journey at Heritage in the fall. She earned her associate degree from Columbia Basin College while she was still in high school, graduating from both CBC and Kennewick High School in 2023. She grew up in the Tri- Cities area, dancing and cheering competitively, and continued to share her love of dance with others as a coach at Dance Image West.

She is survived by her father, Casey Hart, and her sister, Payten Hart. Her mother, Angel Hart, died in the same accident.


Mary Ellen Hughes passed away on October 14 with her family by her side. She was 89 years old.

Hughes was a long-time Heritage benefactor and philanthropist who supported education, the arts and medical research. In addition to her charitable giving, she was a committed volunteer who served on several boards in the Seattle area, including Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Lakeside School and the Seattle Children’s Theatre.

She is survived by her husband, Pat; her children Lauri Hughes, Kimberly Hughes Moazed (Steve Moazed), Jim Hughes (Heather), and Kevin Hughes (Krista); as well as ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.