Dave Althausen, Sr.
By Hiedi Andersen
Adjunct faculty truly bring “community” into a college — and Dave Althausen Sr. was one of many who gifted his first-hand experiences and life lessons to local students.
In a career spanning over 30 years, former businessman and Woodland police officer Althausen shared a wealth of unique, life perspectives with administration of justice students at Woodland Community College. His legacy of knowledge will be posthumously honored next month at the WCC Foundation’s annual Founders Day dinner.
“Community members who share their wealth of expertise by serving as adjunct faculty enrich the learning experience for our students,” said WCC President Michael White.
Colleagues fondly recall Althausen.
“I worked with him very closely,” said Francisco Rodriguez, former WCC dean and fellow 2018 honoree. “Althausen was a very good man. I’m honored to be in the group (of honorees) with him.”
Born in 1937 at the Oakland Army hospital, Althausen and his two younger siblings attended schools in Richmond. However, as a teen, his father became ill as a result of his World War I service, and Althausen left Richmond High School to help support his family.
“Dad met his bride-to-be, Jannifer (Jan) in the movie theater business,” their son, Dave Althausen Jr. recalled. “She was a ticket/candy counter girl and he was an usher.”
The couple married and together went on to manage theaters in the Bay Area and Sacramento.
“After the theater gig, they went into retail, working with Sprouse Reitz in West Sacramento, which later became Rite-Aid,” Althausen Jr. said. “The two of them managed stores in Northern and Southern California, but it was at the Woodland store in 1961 when Dad’s interest in law enforcement began when he joined the Woodland Police Department as a reserve police officer.”
Althausen spent the next three years working both at Sprouse Ritz and at the police department before moving to manage a drug store in Oxnard. Then, in 1966, the City of Woodland called and offered him a job as a full-time police officer. Althausen moved back to Yolo County and attended the Sacramento Police Academy, then located in McKinley Park, and graduated with the class of 1966-D II.
“He was sworn in on Aug. 1, 1966,” Althausen Jr. said. “Apparently, Dad must have impressed them earlier as a reserve officer.”
His first assignment was patrol, and he later became one of the original 10 motorcycle officers, a drug education officer, training officer, reserve program coordinator, range master and department armorer during. In 1977, he developed the Woodland Police Department’s first “Neighborhood Watch” program.
“As the reserve officer coordinator, he was credited with the creation of the first Yolo County Police Reserve Academy,” Althausen Jr. recalled. “Dad was a fixture at the Woodland Police Department booth at the Yolo County Fair for many years where he explained the dangers of drugs — educating local youth and their parents alike.”
His community interactions helped Althausen realize he had a talent for teaching, and in 1974, he earned a teaching certificate from UC Davis and launched his second “and highly prized tenure” as an adjunct faculty member at Yuba College’s Woodland Campus.
“Teaching quickly became Dad’s passion,” said Althausen Jr., who got to see his father in action when he enrolled in an administration of justice class. “It was 1987, and I had just been honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. My best friend — WCC alum Jerry Jones, now the undersheriff of Butte County — and I took Dad’s class. I remember from that experience seeing a side of Dad that I’d rarely seen.”
Althausen’s teaching style was energetic, jovial and engaging. As an adjunct faculty member, he had personal stories to share about working in law enforcement that added a richness to the college experience for his students.
“It was like watching a funny comedian on television, albeit delivering the course requirements and material in a scholarly and professional manner befitting a veteran police officer and educator,” Althausen Jr. said.
More than three decades of WCC students benefitted from the knowledge Althausen shared. He was active in the WCC Academic Senate, and “a regular face in the college library where he’d assist Darlene Gray and any student who asked,” his son said.
“To this day, when I meet former students of his, they remember Dad fondly for his style, enthusiasm, professionalism, career advice and counseling that made them a better person, whether they are in law enforcement or another career,” Althausen Jr. said.
Althausen lost his battle with cancer on May 21, 2009. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Jan, and son, Dave Althausen Jr., two grandchildren and one great grandchild. In his honor, the WCC Foundation established the Dave Althausen Administration of Justice Scholarship, an ongoing, sustained legacy.