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ISU employee and student to receive diploma posthumously at Winter Commencement

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) — Among the hundreds of names that will be read at the 2021 Idaho State University Winter Commencement on Dec. 18 in Holt Arena, Paul Dee Rasmussen’s name will be recognized despite his passing from COVID-19 complications in September.

Rasmussen, known to his friends as Dee, was a beloved ISU employee as well as being a student who had completed all the requirements to graduate with his Bachelor of Arts.

During his studies in the Communication, Media, and Persuasion department, he focused much of his attention on photo media. He was so dedicated to advancing his photography skills that he took every photography class at ISU. Photography professor, Dr. Terry Ownby, remembers Rasmussen as an engaged student.

“He was always exploring how far he could take photography,” Ownby said. “He had such a curious mind about all things photography and was always popping into my office to chat and to pick my brain about photo stuff.”

Rasmussen was passionate about capturing beauty through his photography. A country boy his whole life, he spent many weekends driving through the rural areas he knew well to photograph the landscapes he found. Not one to box himself into only one photography style, Rasmussen also did studio photography and had his own photo studio downtown. On his personal photography blog he wrote, “I found that shooting in a studio can be as rewarding as shooting outdoors.”

Always willing to share his love of photography, Rasmussen taught introductory and intermediate photography classes for ISU Continuing Education.

“I was very proud of him for jumping into teaching through the university extension,” Ownby said. “I'm always happy when my students become teachers of photography!”

Photography was not the only part of his studies that Rasmussen excelled at. Dr. Zac Gershberg remembers Rasmussen developing a voice as a writer.

“Dee thrived in my Feature Writing class and dramatically improved his reporting over the course of the semester in Spring 2018,” Gershberg said. “He descriptively made spices dance on your tongue in profiling a local Indian restaurant, you could feel yourself casting a fly in his coverage of fishing in the great outdoors, and he chronicled the breakneck feel and pace of a motocross racer with all the technical details of an expert.”

Rasmussen was dedicated to his academic progress. Despite working full time, he was never late to class. He had the discipline to balance his career, family, and education.

Rasmussen was no stranger to hard work. Throughout his childhood he worked on his grandfather’s ranch in Talmage, Utah. At Utah Technical College, now Utah Valley University, he studied Electrical and Automation System Technology. He began working for Ballard Medical, and in 1996 he moved to Pocatello to work maintenance in their new facility.

In 2009, Rasmussen began working at ISU in Facilities, where he excelled and eventually became a Zone Maintenance Manager in 2017.

His pragmatic can-do attitude combined with his kind-hearted nature served him well in his work. It was because of him that 30,000 honeybees were saved on ISU’s campus. In July of 2019 the historic Swanson Arch became home to a large honeycomb. Rasmussen opted to find a beekeeping expert to remove and rehome them rather than destroying the hive and killing the insects. At the time he told East Idaho News, “We could’ve just gotten rid of the hive and boarded it up. It’s nice to go the extra step for something.”

He has been greatly missed since his passing in September.

“I miss his affable presence on campus already,” Dr. Gershberg said. “He was always sure to stop by and chat if he was making rounds near my office.”

Rasmussen’s family will be present at commencement, and when his name is called his daughter will walk across the stage in his honor.

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