Their Trojan pride is apparent from the moment they walk in the door. She sports cardinal and gold pom-poms on the handles of her walker, and he wears a USC Viterbi branded necktie.
Joan and Emrick “Rick” Webb (BS ISE ’50) visited campus on May 16 for a very special lunch and bench dedication to honor their continued support of the engineering school. May also marked Joan and Rick’s 60th wedding anniversary, a love story that began at USC almost 70 years ago.
Seated at lunch, Joan looked around the table, which included their son, Bryan; daughter-in-law, Jean; daughter, Lorraine Donaldson (B.Ed.); and son-in-law, Guy Hallman. Not present, but a focus of conversation, was granddaughter Kathryn Webb; who will begin her physical therapy Ph.D. program in fall 2015 at Keck School of Medicine of USC. Turning to her husband, Joan remarked: “Look at what we started!”
In 1945, Rick transferred from the University of Redlands’ Navy V-12 program to USC to continue his program and study architecture. At the time, his mother had a friend who was the Alpha Delta Pi sorority pledge advisor at USC. His mother’s friend passed on the message that Rick should drop by the house to meet some of the ladies there, and he did.
One Monday night, Rick went to the Alpha Delta Pi sorority house and met new spring semester pledges, including first-year marketing major Joan Yost. “I remember him being cute, shy, and quiet,” she said.
As an active duty Navy ROTC cadet, Rick had a strict 10 p.m. bed check. He was running late and feared breaking curfew. He didn’t need to worry, “Joan and a group of girls made the drive back to EVK [Elizabeth Von KleinSmid Hall] fast and furious,” he said, “providing a noisy surprise for the duty officer of the day!”
Rick and Joan’s first date was the formal naval ball in June of 1946. After a second date at the beach — with her parents — the pair dated off and on throughout their time at USC, eventually going their separate ways.
“Well, I had many gentleman suitors,” said Joan with a smile and a wink. And as Rick’s son joked, “Dad had many other sorority girls yet to see.”
Following her marketing major experience, Joan took a job with Coulter’s department store, and Rick changed majors to industrial engineering, graduating in 1950.
One day in 1952, Rick called Joan and asked, “Are you still there?” “I am,” Joan remembered saying all those years ago. At that, the two share a smile that takes them back more than 60 years. They married two years later on May 28, 1955. Joan credits their long-lasting marriage to being lucky that they could share life’s ups and downs with family and friends, many from their time at USC.
After the couple’s May 2015 lunch at USC, the Webb family walked to the Epstein Family Engineering Plaza and found their dedicated bench. Sitting there, Rick and Joan admired the school and each other. Starry eyed, the loving couple looked as though it were 1946 again.
The Webbs looked at the plaque near the bench that reads, “Imaginuity Unlimited – From Dreams – To Reality,” a slogan that Rick invented at USC. After graduation, Rick went on to work at firms such as William Simpson Construction, U.S. Electrical Motors, Northrop Corporation, and Ernst & Young. While at Ernst & Young, he was tasked with recruiting consulting candidates from USC’s MBA program. After one particularly tiring day, Webb told a potential recruit he wanted someone with “imaginuity,” a combination of imagination and ingenuity, Rick’s two desired characteristics of a consultant. A moment of exhaustion turned into his trademark business name “Imaginuity Unlimited,” which he used for his design and construction ventures in his retirement years. Now, it is engraved onto their bench plaque, forever etching them in USC’s history.
Since graduating, Rick has never ventured too far from USC. He has remained deeply engaged with his alma mater, serving on the Industrial and Systems Engineering Board, supporting Trojan Football and attending many USC events. Rick admires the growth and changes at the school, and is proud to be a part of it all with their gift of the bench and sharing of the motto.
Rick learned about charitable gift annuities and wanted to give back to the school in a significant way. A CGA is a type of planned gift in which a donor contributes money to USC in exchange for income and a tax deduction. Once the donor and their beneficiaries pass away, the school keeps the remainder of the gift. However, Rick said he wasn’t sure exactly where he wanted his gift to go. He remembered his time as an ISE advisory board member when USC President C. L. Max Nikias was engineering dean and says, “I am a firm supporter of the multidiscipline approach to education I first heard from President Nikias” and when he became USC’s president, “there was no choice where to put my money.” After making that decision in 2014, the Webbs have since pledged $1 million to the school.
On their walk back to the car at the end of their recent afternoon on campus, Rick and Joan took a moment and reflected on Trojan pride.
“When we were here in the late ’40s, there was not the kind of spirit that there is now,” he said.
Thanks to the Webbs’ continued support, that Trojan spirit is alive and well.