William B. Smullin (1907-1995) was a broadcasting pioneer in northern California and southern Oregon. His wife, Patricia D. Smullin (1918–1998), whom he married in 1945, was his partner in all ventures. Together they raised five children in Eureka, California, spending most summers in Medford, Oregon.
Bill was born in Kane, Pennsylvania and raised at the base of Mt. Hood in Parkdale, Oregon. After studying journalism at Willamette University, he began his career at the Southwest Oregon Daily News in what is now Coos Bay, Oregon. In 1944, he met Patricia Duell in Eureka when she arrived to be the area’s Executive Director of Camp Fire Girls, Inc. of America (now Camp Fire). Rusty, as she was known, was born in New Rockford, North Dakota and grew up in Spokane, Washington. After graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in psychology, she began her career as a Camp Fire Girls executive in Fort Worth, Texas.
Bill, known professionally as William B, established radio in Eureka, California, in 1933, followed by more radio, then television, then cable television, and then microwave in the towns of northern California and southern Oregon. At one point, his company, California Oregon Broadcasting, Inc., covered territory from Sacramento, the capital of California, to Salem, the capital of Oregon.
Bill was the first of his family to attend college. He placed tremendous value on higher education and wanted to enable others to benefit from the opportunities college can provide. Bill and Rusty Smullin established scholarships in the 1980’s to support deserving students from the counties in which they broadcast.
The Smullins established the Patricia D. & William B. Smullin Foundation in 1990. The Foundation continues the oversight of scholarship funds at six colleges and universities and makes grants in Bill and Rusty’s key areas of interest: health, education and the Episcopal Church. Members of the Smullin family continue to carry on the Foundation’s work.
Television stations in Medford, Klamath Falls, and Eugene continue to operate as California Oregon Broadcasting Inc, the second-oldest family-owned enterprise of its kind in the nation.
Bill Smullin was an entrepreneur who believed strongly in being an active, engaged, and generous member of his communities. He and Rusty lived out this belief both as individuals and in his businesses. The Smullin legacy in northern California and southern Oregon is one of strong civic leadership, community development, and a commitment to the independent and entrepreneurial spirit