The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center lost a close friend and supporter with the death of James Raisbeck on August 31. Raisbeck, who was 84, was an aviation industry leader and philanthropist whose passions included education, the arts, aviation education, and medical research.
The long-standing relationship between Fred Hutch and Raisbeck and his wife Sherry Raisbeck began in 1996, when the couple’s son-in-law underwent a successful bone marrow transplant under the care of Dr Fred Appelbaum.
“To show his appreciation, James asked what he could do for Hutch,” said Appelbaum, executive vice president and deputy director of Hutch and Metcalfe Family / Frederick Appelbaum Endowed Chair in Cancer Research.
Raisbeck and Applebaum also started a long-standing friendship. Appelbaum recalled Raisbeck calling him on New Years Eve 1999 from Midway Island. “He wanted to be able to stand on the international rendezvous line at midnight to be the last person of the last century and the first of the new,” Appelbaum said. “It was James. He always remembered his past and he always looked to the future.
Raisbeck chairs leave a legacy to science
The Raisbecks have had their greatest impact on Hutch research through their support of endowed chairs, including Hutch’s premiere. Endowments offer donors the opportunity to build a lasting legacy, because by design, they are enduring resources that are continually replenished through returns on investment.
“James and Sherry have supported Fred Hutch for over 20 years,” said Hutch President and Director Dr. Thomas J. Lynch Jr., Raisbeck Endowment Chair. “They are uniquely positioned to fund four unprecedented Chairs at Hutch, including mine. My deepest condolences and gratitude to the Raisbeck family for helping advance cancer research. “
In 2001, the Raisbecks created the Penny E. Petersen Memorial Chair for Lymphoma Research. The chair paid tribute to the couple’s friend, Dr. Penny Petersen, who recently died of lymphoma, while offering the chair, the late Dr. Ollie Press, a flexible source of funds for his research. The chair now supports the work of Dr. Nina Salama, who is studying a bacteria linked to stomach cancer and a rare type of lymphoma.
In 2017, the Raisbecks endowed the Raisbeck Chair for Pancreatic Research, which is held by pancreatic cancer expert Dr. Sunil Hingorani.
In 2019, they created the Raisbeck Endowed Chair for Collaborative Research to facilitate collaboration between oncology researchers at Fred Hutch, the University of Washington, and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The chair is held by Dr. Nancy Davidson, Senior Vice President and Director of the Clinical Research Division of Fred Hutch, Professor and Head of the Division of Medical Oncology at the UW School of Medicine, and President and Executive Director of the SCCA.
Then, in 2020, they created the Raisbeck Endowment Chair for President and Director to honor outgoing President and Director, Dr Gary Gilliland, and as a vote of confidence in the Hutch as he hosted Lynch. as the new head of the institution.
“The pleasure we felt directly from our gifts was tremendous,” said Sherry.
In addition to their generous financial support for Hutch research, the Raisbecks have often organized gatherings of donors and Hutch scientists in their homes to help raise awareness and secure additional funding for Hutch’s work.
Impacts on Aviation, Education and the Arts
Raisbeck was the founder of aerospace manufacturer Raisbeck Engineering, which researched, developed and manufactured aircraft components. Before starting his business, he worked for Boeing and Robertson Aircraft and was a flight engineer in the US Air Force. Raisbeck has received numerous aviation awards, including the Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award and the 2007 Pathfinder Award from the Museum of Flight for his extensive work to improve the field.
He and his wife were the driving force behind the creation of Raisbeck Aviation High School, a public high school on the campus of the Museum of Flight. They have also supported the Cornish College of the Arts, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Seattle Opera, and the Seattle Symphony. The Hope Heart Institute in Seattle honored the Raisbecks with their annual “Wings of Hope” award for leadership in philanthropy, and the couple were named Seattle-King County First Citizens in 2007.
“He lived a great life, he became the person he wanted to be, and all I can do is applaud him,” Sherry said, adding, “I’m very happy for him.”