Washington Corporations President to Receive Distinguished Eagle Scout Award at UM Feb. 9

January 30, 2015

MISSOULA – Larry Simkins, president of Washington Corporations since 2001, will receive the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award on Monday, Feb. 9, at the University of Montana.

A reception to honor Simkins and the 2014 Eagle Scout Class will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom, followed by a program at 6:30 p.m. and a dinner and social at 7:30 p.m.

Gov. Steve Bullock and Montana Chief Justice Mike McGrath will present the award to Simkins. Tickets can be purchased by calling 406-490-3848, and more information is online at http://www.montanabsa.org/new-distinguished-eagle-scout/.

Since joining the Washington Companies in 1988, Simkins has been involved in operations of various individual companies. As president, he provides leadership and direction to the enterprise by serving as a member of the board of directors for each individual company.

The Washington Companies are an international group of privately owned companies and selected public company investments employing more than 7,500 people worldwide and generating nearly $2 billion in annual revenue. Business is transacted in the sectors of rail transportation, marine transportation, shipyards, mining, environmental construction, heavy equipment sales and aviation products.

Simkins currently serves as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and co-chairs Gov. Bullock’s Main Street Montana Project.

Since its establishment in 1969, the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award has become a top Scouting recognition. Previous recipients include President Gerald Ford, several governors and senators, military officers, university presidents, chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies and nationally known lawyers, educators, engineers and doctors. Each recipient had risen to a state of fame or eminence in his chosen life work before receiving the DESA, which is presented and administered by the National Eagle Scout Association.

The award is NESA’s highest honor. Recipients are determined by the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award Committee whose members all have received the DESA. A substantial percentage of nominations are declined. 

Other notable Distinguished Eagle Scouts from or residing in Montana include noted historian and author Stephen Ambrose, the Judge Robert “Dusty” Deschamps, KOA executive James Rogers, mining professional Frank McAllister, Montana Supreme Court Justice James Harrison, orthopedist Dr. Charles Jennings and engineer Jack Sherick. 

Scouting’s connection to UM is historically significant. Boy Scouts in western Montana first were mentioned in the July 16, 1916, edition of the Missoulian with an article titled “Boy Scouts Part of University Course.” C.W. Matheny conducted a program for 15 or 20 Boy Scouts under the summer school curriculum at the “State University.” The Department of Physical Education, headed by W.W.H. Mustaine offered “gymnasium work, rudiments of exercise and camping experiences to 20 youngsters, aged 8-14.”

Lolo Hot Springs was the destination for a camping trip “if arrangements can be made to obtain an automobile to move the boys and their outfits. They intend to walk back.” Google maps of today estimate the distance was 37 miles.

Norman Maclean, later a University of Chicago English professor and author of “A River Runs Through It,” was one of the first Missoula Scouts.

Contact: Peggy Kuhr, UM vice president for integrated communications, 406-243-2311, peggy.kuhr@umontana.edu; Jory Dellinger, chief development officer, Montana Council – Boy Scouts of America, 406-370-3464, jory.dellinger@scouting.org.