Creative Gift Makes Water Tower Shine

October 20, 2023

Eastern Washington University’s iconic water tower got lit during the recent 100th Homecoming festivities.

The 102-foot-tall steel tower, perched above Roos field, was transformed into a beacon of Eagle pride – visible to the campus community and passing aircraft alike.

The illumination was made possible thanks to a gift from Eric and Denise Clements, parents of alumnus football player Cody Clements ’21 and ’22, and his older brother, Brice Clements ’06.

“Our goal is to make sure that everybody who comes to this university, through the City of Cheney, and flies over the top of this knows exactly where this campus is and what it stands for,” Eric Clements told the dozens of students, faculty and staff who filed onto Parking Lot 12 for the Oct. 18 lighting ceremony.

The specially designed duo light fixture brings the water tower’s Eagle logo to life. The lighting will remain a permanent fixture, delighting students, faculty, staff and sports fans year-round.

“It was really a collaborative team project and it just turned out fantastic,” Eric Clements said.

President Shari McMahan took a few moments to thank the Clements and give a shout-out to EWU’s Facilities Department for the work they did to light up the tower. It took about seven months to transform Eric and Denise’s dream – and generous gift – into reality, and the Facilities team kept the project moving forward, all the while keeping campus buildings operating smoothly.

The unique gift was about giving back to EWU and providing inspiration for students, said Clements, a nuclear engineer who, along with his wife, Denise, a mechanical engineer, prioritized higher education and supporting community when raising their four children.

The Clements’ son Brice graduated from EWU in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with an emphasis in forensics.

Cody ’21 and ’22 arrived at EWU years later, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and education, all while playing Eagle football. Their son had an overwhelmingly positive experience as a student athlete, his father said, and received scholarships along the way.

“For us it was a dream come true, absolutely. Even though we’re not alums, we still feel like we are part of that community,” Clements said.

After Cody was recruited in 2017 by Eastern Eagles Head Football Coach Aaron Best,  the couple started to take notice of the water tower. Living in Richland, Washington, Eric and Denise could easily make the trip to watch Cody, #47, long snap on the red turf.

Cody Clements said it’s really positive to see his parents make this contribution at EWU. “They are very proud of me and very proud to give back to the school that has given so much for me. And, my dad really likes lights.”

The passion for lighting runs in the family. Eric Clements recalls that, years ago, his own father installed aircraft lights in an antique truck after deeming its stock-factory lights too dim for safe night-time travel.

“I’ve always been a lighting guy. I think I got it from my dad.”

Quick facts about the water tower:

  • The steel water tower was constructed in 1989.
  • It was designed by the Pitt-Des Moines Steel Co., the same company that built the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
  • It is 102-feet, three-inches tall and 45-feet wide.
  • The 1.1-million-gallon reservoir provides drinking water, emergency fire flow protection and landscape irrigation to the EWU campus.
  • In 2016, the tower got a makeover when it was painted and adorned with the Eastern Eagle logo.
  • The tower was painted by Rolf Goetzinger of Artistbrothers. The brothers paint water towers, public murals and other public art projects across the United States.

**Visit EWU/Give to find your own creative way to make an impact.