WSU Love Story: A Family Full of Coug Love

Coug alum met wife on bet to go on 50 dates, never finished bet



3 genearations of Cougs enjoy football-watching traditions

ANNA MICHALSON, Evergreen reporter

Ruth and Phil Isaak met in October of 1966 at a WSU football game. At the time, Phil was finishing up his senior year with a degree in general agriculture, while Ruth was attending Spokane Community College. 

“A lifelong friend of Phil’s decided that he and I should meet. Phil consulted some of his other friends that knew me, and they also agreed,” Ruth said. “There was a [Coug] game at Joe Albi Stadium on October 1965, and he called me and asked me to go, I said yes.” 

Ruth said she went into this date completely blind and was very nervous upon meeting. 

Phil on the other hand said he had made a bet with his friends that he could take 50 girls out on a date within the first semester of school. Ruth was number 10. 

Nerves were flying especially high that day because Ruth said she had been in a rollover car accident in a 1962 Corvair just six days prior. 

“Phil showed up to pick me up in his own 1962 Corvair, I hadn’t been in a car all week, I had to get into that car to go to the game, and it just about killed me,” she said. “I wasn’t at the top of my game.” 

From Phil’s standpoint, he said the date went very well, so well in fact, that he decided to ask Ruth to the next Coug game that following week. 

Dates went on, connections grew stronger, and on Valentine’s day five months after meeting, Ruth said Phil proposed. On Labor Day of that same year, the two were married. 

Following their marriage, Phil went on to graduate school, and Ruth moved over to Pullman and started working in the ASWSU office. Phil said he also had an office on the top floor of Holland Library where he conducted his research. 

After their time was done at WSU, Ruth and Phil moved back to Phil’s family farm in Hartline, Washington, where Phil continued to be an active Alumni. 

“I was on the Washington Association of Wheaters for five years, starting in 1993,” Phil said. 

He later went on to be a part of The Washington Wheat Commission in 1996 and was a member for six years. 

Ruth said she and Phil still have strong cougar ties and love to spend time with their three children who are WSU alum, as well as their 12 grandchildren, three of which are already alum, while the other 5 are still attending school here. 

“We have lots of Cougar love in our blood,” she said. 

Phil and Ruth said they recently celebrated their 56-year anniversary at the Coug game this weekend, where Ruth said they spent time with their large Cougar family. 

“[Our family] decorated cookies with ‘Phil and Ruth’ and ‘56 years’ on them … it was a really fun day, almost all of our family was there,” Ruth said. 

Needless to say, Phil and Ruth lead a happy and joyous life. Phil said he never went on to complete his 50-woman date bet, he never even made it to 11.