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Washburn College Bible still source of pride for alumni 40 years later

The Washburn College Bible

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019

Award-winning graphic artist Bradbury Thompson put his mark on one of history’s first printed works with his own design of the Bible in 1979. Forty years later, it is still an important part of Washburn University’s story.

Unique because of its typography, the breakup of each line into segments that are easy to read or recite, and for striking artwork, the work was well reviewed by national publications.

The 10-year project was a longtime dream for Thompson, ba ’34, h ’65, but its completion was not easy. After losing backing from his publisher in the mid-1970s, he turned to the Washburn College board of trustees. The project attracted longtime Washburn benefactor, Olive White Garvey, ba 1914, h ’63, and her daughter, Ruth Garvey Fink, h ’81. They became primary underwriters and Fink chaired the Washburn College Bible Committee.

“It was a great accomplishment and spread the University's name to many parts of the world,” said former committee member Jim Maag, ba ’61, h ’04.

The committee oversaw the Bible’s sales and later the fundraising and construction of Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center in 1996, fulfilling Garvey’s request to have Bible earnings fund a permanent display and a tribute to the Bible and Thompson. The original, three-volume Washburn College Bible sold for $2,500, and the single-volume Oxford Edition sold for $75. Along with other works by Thompson, they are on display in the Washburn College Bible Room in the Alumni Center. Copies were sent to major libraries in the United States and Europe and to U.S. presidents.

“A great bulk of the credit has to go to Ruth Fink,” Maag said. “She was just tireless in her efforts.”

Thompson’s other work includes the first depiction of the Ichabod mascot, designing more commemorative United States postage stamps than anyone else and a redesign of Smithsonian magazine. He also taught graphic art at Yale University.

“Brad was a very congenial person,” Maag said. “He was not one to brag about his work at all, but if somebody asked him to explain things, he was more than willing.”

Spring 2020 Alumni Mag

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2019-20 spring edition online and look for it in mailboxes in May.

View past editions


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