Mukilteo’s William Sacherek (right) and Liselotte Lamerdin (center right) donate two rare paintings by African American artist Charles Ethan Porter to Dr. John Perkins (center left), of Seattle Pacific University’s John Perkins Center, on Tuesday at First Free Methodist Church in Seattle, Washington. The paintings represent the school’s first acquisition of art since SPU President Dan Martin’s directive to create and shape a university art collection.

Mukilteo’s William Sacherek (right) and Liselotte Lamerdin (center right) donate two rare paintings by African American artist Charles Ethan Porter to Dr. John Perkins (center left), of Seattle Pacific University’s John Perkins Center, on Tuesday at First Free Methodist Church in Seattle, Washington. The paintings represent the school’s first acquisition of art since SPU President Dan Martin’s directive to create and shape a university art collection.

Why one couple donated art to a school they had nothing to do with

  • By Julie Muhlstein Herald Writer
  • Friday, April 22, 2016 6:39pm
  • Local News

SEATTLE — William Sacherek and Liselotte “Lilo” Lamerdin aren’t Seattle Pacific University alumni. They don’t have children who attended the school. Still, the Mukilteo couple has given an extraordinary gift to the Christian university.

They recently donated to SPU two rare paintings by African-American artist Charles Ethan Porter. The still-life painter, born in Connecticut in 1847, was once championed by Mark Twain. He worked in Paris during the era of Claude Monet and other great Impressionists. But he died back home in 1923 in poverty and obscurity, according to SPU art history Professor Katie Kresser.

The untitled paintings — one a vase of flowers, the other a bowl with onions — were unveiled at a presentation Tuesday in the First Free Methodist Church adjacent to the SPU campus. Seattle Pacific University was founded in 1891 by the Free Methodist Church of North America.

“My prayer with these paintings is that no matter how obscure you think you are, you are going to change the world,” Sacherek told SPU students at the event.

The unveiling was more than a thank you to Sacherek and his wife. The couple made their gift in appreciation of SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development.

“The center is modeled after the life and legacy of John Perkins, a sharecropper’s son in Mississippi,” said Tali Hairston, director of the university’s John Perkins Center. Hairston said Perkins experienced the horrors of racism in Mississippi, including threats from the Ku Klux Klan, beatings and the death of a brother at the hands of police.

“After moving from Mississippi to California, he found faith in Jesus Christ,” Hairston said. “He felt called to go back to Mississippi and share the love of Christ. He returned to try to figure out a way to love again and forgive.”

Perkins, 85, is co-founder and president of the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation in Jackson, Mississippi. The foundation was the inspiration for the John Perkins Center at SPU. Started in 2004, the center was a first, a partnership among SPU, the foundation, and Christian leaders around the Northwest.

“It’s the ministry of reconciliation,” said Hairston, adding that students involved in the center live out their faith by reaching out to others.

Perkins returns to SPU each year. After Tuesday’s presentation of the paintings, he delivered the 11th annual John Perkins lecture to students in the church.

None of that explains how a retired Boeing executive and his wife came to donate their paintings to the university.

At one of the SPU Perkins Center conferences, Hairston said, “this man walked up to me and said ‘Thank you.’ ” It was Sacherek, who had gotten to know some SPU students through Mukilteo Presbyterian Church, his faith community.

Maribeth Lopit, SPU’s director of advancement, said Sacherek now shows up on campus every week to work with students as a mentor. “I want to encourage them. This is very different from other campuses. It’s Christian-based and a forceful advocate for change,” said Sacherek, 69, who once lived on Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill.

Before retirement, Sacherek worked in major outside production for Boeing, which involved parts coming from Asia. He was later a benchmarking manager at the company. Lamerdin is a violinist with the Mukilteo Community Orchestra.

They collect other art, and Sacherek said the Porter paintings are the first of other donations they plan to make to SPU. He explained how he came to have the African-American artist’s works. As a boy in Connecticut, he shoveled snow and mowed the lawn for a neighbor, Louis Hawley.

“I was the beneficiary of these paintings from Mr. Hawley,” Sacherek said during his talk. “Mr. Porter had spent months in the Hawley home, and was allowed to paint there. In exchange, he gave a couple of paintings.”

Sacherek said his “Connecticut Yankee” upbringing didn’t include interaction with African-Americans, but “I had a neighbor who supported Mr. Porter.” And as a child of the 1960s, he saw on television the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement.

“Children my age had to have troops to go to school. People couldn’t use bathrooms or lunch counters,” Sacherek said. At SPU, he sees a place “that equips us to serve in a Christlike fashion.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

Learn more

Find information about Seattle Pacific University’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development at

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Safeway store at 4128 Rucker Ave., on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Mike Henneke / The Herald)
Police: Everett Safeway ex-worker accused of trying to ram customers

The man, 40, was showing symptoms of psychosis, police wrote. Officers found him circling another parking lot off Mukilteo Boulevard.

Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the 196th ST SW Improvement Project near the 196th and 44th Ave West intersection in Lynnwood, Washington on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Jarred by anti-Semitic rants, Lynnwood council approves tax increase

Three people spewed hate speech via Zoom at a council meeting this week. Then, the council moved on to regular business.

The county canvassing board certifies election results at the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
General election results stamped official by canvassing board

In Snohomish County, one hand recount will take place. Officials said ballot challenges were down this year.

The Days Inn on Everett Mall Way, which Snohomish County is set to purchase and convert into emergency housing, is seen Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Over $130M for affordable housing set to be approved by County Council

The five-year investment plan of the 0.1% sales tax aims to construct 550 new affordable units.

Two snowboarders head up the mountain in a lift chair on the opening day of ski season at Stevens Pass Ski Area on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, near Skykomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Ski season delayed at Stevens Pass due to minimal snow

Resort originally planned to open Dec. 1. But staff are hopeful this week’s snow will allow guests to hit the slopes soon.

Siblings Qingyun, left, and Ruoyun Li, 12 and 13, respectively, are together on campus at Everett Community College on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The two are taking a full course load at the community college this semester. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Siblings, age 12 and 13, are youngest students at EvCC campus

Qingyun Li was 11 when he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT test. His sister, Ruoyun, was one point away.

Edmond’s newly elected mayor Mike Rosen on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mayor-elect Rosen wants to ‘make Edmonds politics boring again’

Mike Rosen handily defeated incumbent Mayor Mike Nelson. He talked with The Herald about how he wants to gather the “full input” of residents.

Outside of Angel of the Winds Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Police arrest Angel of the Winds arena worker accused of stabbing boss

The man allegedly walked up to his employer and demanded a raise, before stabbing him in the stomach, witnesses said.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset on December 11, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
After strike, Everett nurses, Providence agree on tentative contract

Following a five-day strike, union nurses and the hospital met to negotiate for the first time in late November.

The terminal and air traffic control tower at Paine Field are seen on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in unincorporated Snohomish County, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s second-largest aerospace employer, ATS, names new CEO

New CEO Robert Cords will lead Paine Field-based Aviation Technical Services, which employs 800 people in Everett.

A sign showing the river levels of previous floods is visible along the Snohomish River on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Forecast holds: Flooding to hit Tuesday in Gold Bar, Monroe, Snohomish

The Snohomish River was expected to crest “just below” major flood stage late Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Chestnut mushrooms grow in a fruiting tent on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, at Black Forest Mushrooms in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Fungi town: Downtown Everett home to new indoor gourmet mushroom farm

Black Forest Mushrooms will grow up to 20,000 pounds of tasty mushrooms each month. Its storefront opens Saturday at 2110 Hewitt Ave.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.