Class Notes 1930-69
Columbia River High School’s stadium was renamed after former football coach and educator John O’Rourke ’69 passed away last year. O’Rourke spent 43 years at Columbia River as a social studies teacher, and coached football, wrestling and track and field. He was head football coach for 22 years and an assistant for 16 years prior to that, until retiring from coaching after the 2015 season. He retired from teaching in 2007 after starting his career in Vancouver Public Schools in 1968 at Lewis Junior High.
Terril “Terry” Ham ’68 and his wife Cindy are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year. The couple met in 1968 on the Ham’s bean farm in La Center, Wash., and after marriage Terry served in the U.S. Air Force and started a construction company. The Hams have two grown daughters, including Clark alumna Amber Langeliers.
Current Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue Commissioner Ken Ayers ’68 is seeking reelection on the November ballot. Ayers sees continued growth within the district’s service area as a challenge for the agency but feels he’s successfully managed increased demand so far with the construction of new fire stations and by beefing up staff during his tenure.
A new study published in the journal Science predicted a child born today will face five times as many natural disasters as someone born 150 years ago and that has Clark alumnus and environmental activist Denis Hayes ’64 worried. Hayes spoke with NPR on the emerging climate anxiety and the challenges our younger generation is facing compared to the battles he fought for environmental protection policies during the 1970s and 1980s.
North Folk Elementary School’s head custodian Ed Sorensen ’69 was honored by school teachers and students on his retirement after serving Woodland Public Schools for 12 years. On his last day of work, students made special cards, congratulated him on his retirement and thanked him for being their custodian. While he doesn’t have any concrete plans for his retirement, Sorensen knows he won’t sit still, although he does look forward to sleeping more.
Former U.S. Congressman Don Bonker ’62 and his wife Carolyn, celebrated 50 years of marriage on July 10, 2021, at the John Stanger House, where they were originally married in 1971. A few dozen friends and family joined them on a sunny day at the site of the Jane Weber Evergreen Arboretum in Vancouver, Wash., Lt. Gov. Denny Heck, a fellow Clark alumnus, was on hand to dedicate a marker on the property in honor of the Bonkers, who lived in the Stanger House in the first years of their marriage. The property is a National Register of Historic Places and listed in the Clark County Heritage Register.
Popstar Jimmie Rodgers ’58 from Camas, whose sweet voice brought success in the 1950s and 1960s with hit tunes like “Honeycomb” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” died Dec. 18 2020. Rodgers attended Camas High School and Clark College before going to work at the Camas paper mill. While he knew he loved music, he wasn’t sure he could make a living at it.
Denis Hayes ’64 is joining with Clark College Foundation for a virtual presentation on how the Pacific Northwest can take the lead in building healthy human ecosystems on February 23, 2021. The virtual webinar is called “Creating Super Green Cities.” Hayes was the inspirational organizer of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, and today is the CEO of the Pacific Northwest conservation group Bullitt Foundation.
WWII veteran Harry Generaux ’47 spoke to Clark County Today about his time in the U.S. Air Corps as a co-pilot on the notorious B-17 bomber. Generaux completed 35 missions before returning to Ridgefield, Wash., to marry his high school sweetheart Margaret, and raise a son together. Generaux was called back to duty in 1951 for the Korean war, and then retired from the military a year later.
Long-time Battle Ground resident Dave Kooken ’49 served for the U.S. Marine Corps in the central Pacific during WWII. Kooken’s squadron’s mission was to fly out the wounded from battle sites, including the transportation of more than 600 wounded during the battle for Iwo Jima. Kooken recalls his story in The Reflector. He speaks about fellow veterans who returned to Battle Ground after the war, including the ex-service men and women colleagues he worked with in the Battle Ground school system.
Paul Christensen ’53, president of Realvest Corporation, received the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce’a 2020 John S. McKibbin Leadership Legacy Award in recognition of his positive influence and community leadership.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of a triathlon in Central Oregon this summer, so Clark alum Mike Greenwood ’61 and his family decided to create their own race. The family participants swam at Cascade Fitness Athletic Club, biked across the Glen Jackson Bridge and back, and finished with a 3.1-mile run.
Joe’s Place Farms is on it’s final season as Joe Beaudoin ’63 is retiring and selling his farmland to be developed into housing next year. Joe recalls the farm’s history and the path he took to create the successful u-pick business, including his education at Clark College studying agriculture.
Dean Dossett ’66, who served as Camas’ mayor from 1992 to 2002, and as a councilman in the late ’80s, has died at age 77. Dossett worked at the Camas paper mill for 38 years, but he is largely remembered for presiding over the city’s economic diversification. He was also founded the United Camas Association of Neighborhoods, a now-defunct organization that granted money to neighborhood associations. Dossett’s family is planning an event to commemorate his life in late February or early March.
Veteran Hollywood actor Sam Elliott’65, along with his wife of 33 years, Oscar-nominated actress Katharine Ross, are part-time Linn County residents at their farm outside Eugene, Ore. The actor spoke to The Register-Guard about his upcoming roles and his strong ties to the Pacific Northwest, including his time running hurdles and acting in musical plays at Clark College.
Neal Blomquist ’62 has cut hair in the Battle Ground area for over 50 years, and has recently moved to a new location and is set up to conform with COVID-19 social distancing standards. Blomquist shares the space with his son, Brad Blomquist ’83, who has also been cutting hair since 2009. The new location is about 25% bigger than their prior location. It provides space for two barber chairs and equipment, and more waiting chairs, as well as Blomquist’s beloved Lazy Boy recliner.
Longtime Vancouver residents Lyle ’48 and Alice Leach ’48 discussed their tough times and endless optimism in a recent article written for The Columbian. Looking back, the Leaches are grateful for the difficult times as well as the good “because if we hadn’t had challenges at all, I don’t think we’d be as happy as we are now,” said Lyle. “We feel that we’ve accomplished something, and I don’t mean materially.”
Joe Beaudoin ’63 and his wife are retiring and closing the farm store at Joe’s Place Farms. Plans for many other farm functions like u-pick, pumpkins and Christmas trees are uncertain. Joe explains that factors including a tightening of regulations and a dwindling workforce are driving his decision to retire.
Earth Day’s first organizer and Clark alumnus, Denis Hayes ’64, appeared in The New York Times in April about his role in the first-ever political environmental protection demonstration. Hayes, who grew up in Camas, Wash., noted the disastrous impact Crown Zellerbach paper mill had on the environment. The mill was where his father worked. Observing Crown Zellerbach planted a seed in Hayes’ mind that developed into a lifetime of promoting climate change awareness. Hayes is the CEO of Seattle’s Bullitt Foundation, which invests in environmental issues.
Phil Arnold Jr. ’63 was featured in The Columbian about the company he owns and operates, Arnold Map Service, which he inherited from his father. Phil Arnold Sr. founded the business in the Hough neighborhood of Vancouver in 1950. Arnold Jr. continues to keep the business going, despite not being a cartographer himself. He describes it as a “labor of love.”
The Honorable Don Bonker ’62 released a new book, “A Higher Calling: Faith & Politics in the Public Square,” the story of Bonker’s journey to and in the U.S. House of Representatives. Bonker is also a 1984 Clark College Outstanding Alumni recipient. Learn more about the book and his story.
Following a nomination by the Clark County Historical Museum, Ridgefield’s Summit Grove Lodge is now recognized by the Washington Heritage Register. Summit Grove was used as a stop for travelers along the Pacific Highway in the 1920s. The property was purchased in 2009 by the late Margaret Colf Hepola ’61 and her sons, Bob Colf and Dick Colf. The Colf family maintain an event and restaurant business at the Lodge and continue to preserve the history of the site.
Jim Martin ’68 was honored by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington as a Friend of the Foundation at their annual gala on June 4 at the Hilton in Vancouver.
Sam Elliott ’65 is narrating Honor Guard, a four-part documentary series about U.S. Army volunteers who take part in tough training in order to serve in the 3rd Infantry Regiment, an active-duty Army infantry unit that has been in existence since 1784. Elliott has a military background, having served briefly in the California Army National Guard.
Edward Barnes ’59 awarded 2019 Clark County First Citizen honor by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington.
Clark’s Regional Wastewater District Commissioner, Neil Kimsey ’57, plans to seek re-election for his seat. Kimsey reiterates that his highest priority in this role is to ensure that costs are kept down for residents.
Jim Martin ’68, will be honored by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington as a “Friend of the Foundation” at their upcoming annual gala, Mosaic.
Sam Elliott ’65 was honored with a hand-and-foot imprint ceremony on January 7, 2019, at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. The 74-year-old actor was joined by “A Star Is Born” costars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Elliott plays Bobby Maine, brother of Cooper’s Jackson Maine, who performs as a tour manager. Additionally, he was nominated for an Oscar for his “A Star Is Born” appearance. Additionally, Elliott has two Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, one for supporting role and one for a performance motion picture cast, according to People.com. He currently stars in the Netflix series “The Ranch.”
Dennis Kampe ’68 was named to the 2019 board of Southwest Washington Contractors Association Foundation. Kampe currently sits on the foundation board of Cascadia Technical Academy from which he retired as executive director after 30 years of service.
Arnold “Arnie” Dyer ’66 retired Evergreen High School English teacher, was appointed to the advisory council of the Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities of Southwest Washington.
Stanley Nelson ’62 retired regional architect with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Southwest Region, passed the technician, general and extra class tests and earned his HAM radio license (KF70JA). He is currently involved with club activities and parades providing security communications. Nelson is the husband of Norma (Finck) Nelson with whom he will celebrate 55 years of marriage in 2018 Additionally, he is father to son Raymond Nelson ’92, instructor at Cascadia Technical Academy and daughter Denise Benville of Acworth, Georgia. The Nelsons are also the proud grandparents of Julia and Ethan Benville, also of Acworth.
Frederick “Jock” Coombe II ’67, PE, USAF retired, joined the Clark College Alumni Board. Before retirement, Coombe served as an engineer for Bonneville Power Administration and an information systems manager for Portland General Electric.
Dennis “Denny” Huston ’61 former Clark College Foundation board member and interim director of athletics for Clark College from 2008 to 2011, joined the Clark College Alumni Board. He is also the chair of the athletics committee for the Alumni Board and serves on the nominating committee for the Athletics Hall of Fame awards.
George Oberg ’57 was named a “Queer Hero” to the Northwest for 2015. Oberg was the first president of The Second Foundation, which founded Portland’s first gay community center and organized Portland’s first Pride celebration during his tenure. Clark College Foundation recently learned of Oberg’s accolade.
Kenneth Boydstun ’55 was inducted into the Clark College Athletics Hall of Fame on February 17, 2018, for his participation on the 1954 and 1955 baseball and men’s basketball teams. Boydstun was point guard for the 1955 championship basketball team when Skeet O’Connell was head coach. In baseball, he had a .457 hitting percentage, and as a result was one of the most feared players at the plate. Additionally, he was named Defensive Player of the Year and Athlete of the Year as a sophomore.
Michael Gaechter ’60 a former professional football player for the Dallas Cowboys, will be inducted into the Clark College Athletics Hall of Fame on February 17, 2018, for his participation on the 1959 men’s track and cross country teams. He ran the 100 meter and 200 meter races and won the championship under head coach Skeet O’Connell. Gaechter still holds the 200 meter Clark record at 21.34 seconds, and is 6th in record books for the 100 meter.
Al Bauer ’54 a 2001 recipient of the Clark County First Citizen Award, was honored with a 2017 Learn Here Real Hero Award for his exemplary volunteer service to Clark County. The awards are presented to business, education, and community leaders in Southwest Washington by Identity Clark County as part of their Land Here, Live Here, Learn Here project.
Denny Kiggins ’58 was reelected to serve as position 3 commissioner for the Clark Regional Wastewater District. He has served in this role for the past 18 years.
Glen ’52 and Betty ’54 Tribe were named the recipients of Clark College Foundation’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for 2017. The couple, who met while attending Clark, have contributed to the institution and its students for decades.
Sam Elliott ’65 plays a different kind of hero in the new drama “The Hero.” He plays an aging movie star who longs for one more great role.
Thomas Mears ’59 chairman of Holland, Inc. and former Burgerville CEO, published an autobiography, “Serve With Love.” Clark College Foundation hosted a book signing at Clark College in his honor on August 22, 2017.
Michael Rash ’66 and his wife woke up to rain and gusty wind after Hurricane Harvey hit in Houston, Texas, during the worst tropical cyclone in that state’s history in August and September. They are safe and were relieved to see Brays Bayou Greenway in front of their condominium had receded noticeably. “Still, we can’t go more than a couple blocks in any direction. I think the danger to us is now minimal, but many, many thousands are in desperate situations and all around the greater Houston area. To us, this has been an inconvenience, but to tens of thousands, it is a devastation. We are blessed to be safe, sound, high and dry.”
John “Denny” Kiggins ’58 is running for reelection against two other candidates for commissioner, position 3 on the Clark Regional Wastewater District Commission. He has held the position for 18 years.
Rujean “Jeanne” Mack ’67 is one of five recipients of the 2017 Clark College Outstanding Alumni Award.
Oswald may have been absent, but Michael Rash ’66 was at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., in June showing his Penguin Pride alongside OSU’s Benny Beaver.
George Welsh Jr. ’67 received a presidential coin from Clark College President Robert K. Knight at the 2017 State of the College address on January 20 for his dedicated service to the college.
Paul Christensen ’53 received the Vancouver Business Journal’s Kyle Corwin Legacy Builder Award for 2016.