Walter H. MacGinitie | 1928-2020

With deep sadness the family of Walter H. MacGinitie announces his passing on Dec. 17, 2020, at age 92 at his home on San Juan Is, WA. He died peacefully in his sleep, in the company of family and friends.

He was born in Carmel, California, Aug. 14, 1928, to George E. and Nettie L. (Murray) MacGinitie, and married the love of his life, Ruth Kilpatrick, in 1950. They had lived on San Juan Island for 37 years.

He was a kind, generous, considerate and thoughtful person, one who loved the language of literature, the theater, concert music (especially chamber music), and good wine. He loved the natural world, and walked lightly on the earth. He enjoyed hiking and fishing, kept his bird feeders well stocked, did his own yardwork until well into his 80s, chopped his own firewood until earlier this year, and could mend or fix almost anything. He was an active member of Saint David’s Episcopal Church in Friday Harbor, WA.

With his wife he enjoyed traveling and getting to know people in other cultures. They took their family to spend a year in England and a year in France, and took their children and grandchildren to Mexico, Spain, Alaska, Australia, Tasmania, and other places. They traveled in India three times and brought home the Indian custom of having chai each morning with breakfast. They also went to South America and Papua New Guinea, and they still had China and Turkey on their wish list.

In his professional life, Walter MacGinitie was Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University for twenty years. Subsequently, he was Lansdowne Scholar and Professor of Education at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. After retiring from the University, he continued working as an author and consultant with a home base at Friday Harbor, Washington.

He received the bachelor’s degree with Honors in Mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the master’s degree in Educational Evaluation from Stanford University. Following a tour of military duty, he taught sixth grade in Long Beach, California, where the local parents presented him with a life membership in the California Congress of Parents and Teachers. He received the Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University and continued there as a member of the faculty.

A major thrust of his scholarly work was the measurement of reading achievement. He was the coauthor of the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests. He was president of the International Literacy Association from 1976-1977, a recipient of its Special Service Award and president of the association’s Reading Hall of Fame in 1989-1990.

Walter was beloved by his family, and will be greatly missed by his wife of 70 years, Ruth; their two daughters Mary Ferm (Dan) and Laura Derevensky (Rich); their four grandchildren, Nora Nickum (Stuart), Rachel Ferm (Dave Allen), Michael and Anna Derevensky; and two great grandchildren.

The family is grateful for the support of Hospice of the Northwest, and requests that anyone wishing to donate in his memory do so to St. David’s Episcopal Church in Friday Harbor, Hospice of the Northwest, the San Juan Preservation Trust, or a charity of their choice.