15 Fascinating People
Who Are They and What Do They Offer Oregon?
Contributing writers: Lisa Baker, Bridget Barton, Bridget Lynch, Gail Bowen McCormick, Jim Pasero, Alyse Vordermark
Al Egg has his hands full, shepherding a flock known for pot
smoking, check bouncing, trash talking, tantrum throwing, and, this year, dog
Of course, the flock has its talents: It occasionally plays
a dazzling game of basketball.
It is Egg’s job, as chaplain of the Portland Trail Blazers,
to work on the other, less infamous traits, and reach the spiritual side of the
For the past 24 years, Egg has been the spiritual coach for
the Blazers, offering advice, counseling and chapel services to any player who
comes. In recent years, his job—to outsiders—increasingly resembles that of a
juvenile detention counselor for a team that wants desperately to prove it can
be good as well as good at the game.
It would be easy, given that desperation, for Blazers
management to promote Egg’s role with the team as proof that morality is being
taken seriously, the way President Clinton did when he sent for the Three
Amigos “pastoral care” team in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
But Egg would resist it the way he did when a reporter
contacted him for this profile. “It’s not about me. (The chaplain program) is
about the players and it’s about God’s work,” he says. “I’m just a back scenes
It’s that kind of humility that’s likely responsible for the
fact that the players know him simply as “Al” although he is an ordained
pastor, and the fact that few Blazer fans have ever even heard of him. Even the
Blazer’s own website fails to mention him.
Given the troubles of his flock, one might wonder whether
Egg has been too quiet. If he’s sparing the rod and spoiling the forward. If a
lightning bolt might come in handy here and there.
But Egg demurs. That’s not his job, he says.
What is? Just this, right out of God’s playbook, as Egg
calls it: Stand with them. Stand with the players. “I just tell them, I’m here
for you if you need me.”
No raps on the knuckles. No “Straighten Up and Fly Right”
“I hurt for them,” Egg says. “Look at it this way: If you
can think back to when you were 18, 19, 23 years old, think about what you were
doing. Now, put $3 million in cash in your hand. I, for one, would be dead. I
wouldn’t be here today, because I was wild. I wouldn’t have survived.”
Well-meaning fans add to the trouble at times, making it
hard for players to see themselves as regular people, Egg says. “Most of these
guys wouldn’t be able to go down the street and buy their lunch if they went
out today. People want to pick up their tabs. I’ve witnessed it myself. I was
having lunch with Clyde (Drexler), and we go to pay the bill and find out
someone’s already paid and then left so he can brag about buying lunch for Clyde.”
He understands being a fan. “I’m their biggest fan,” Egg
says. “I love it when we win; hate it when we lose. When one of my guys gets a
raw deal, my wife has to hold onto me. I have friends that are refs, but they
better make the right call. I don’t like it when they mess with my guys.”
Not to say he isn’t sometimes frustrated with the team’s
off-court activities: He wants to smack ‘em too, occasionally. “Everybody
does,” he says.
But it takes the impact out of the moment if the flock
member is already remorseful and humiliated beyond measure by his own actions.
“Some of them have felt like smacking themselves,” he says.
While on the surface, misbehavior seems the hallmark of this
team, underneath an opposing force seems to be growing. Attendance at the
15-minute chapel service before each home game is the highest in the league,
Egg says, with nine players attending semi-regularly and 12 of the 16 men on
the roster attending at least once in the past year.
Even outside the organization, the Blazers chapel services
are becoming known. Players who don’t attend chapel at their home stadium
attend in Portland when they play the Blazers, meeting with the home team in
the weight room to hear the Word.
Because the meetings are short, Egg says he keeps it simple
and portable. He reminds players about what’s important in their lives. The
Biblical story of Mary and Martha for example—one sister attending to work to
the exclusion of all else, and another forsaking work for a time to sit at the
feet of Jesus.
Egg shares his own life—most significantly the death of his
teenage daughter in a car accident 20 years ago—and how he says God carried him
through it. “There are things you don’t plan for in life,” Egg says.
Another unexpected event: becoming a chaplain. “I thought
maybe I would be a CPA,” he says. A stint in the world of real estate brought
him, through the back door, to the chaplaincy when he sold a house to former
Blazers center Mychal Thompson, who asked him to start a Bible study for the
players. It became chapel at the suggestion of Kelvin Ransey, who played for
the Blazers from 1980 until 1982.
Theo Ratliff, who has played with the team for about a year,
has high praise for Egg. “He’s very inspirational, a very positive guy. He
always has a good word. Like when he greets you, he says he’s ‘too blessed to
be stressed,’ and that says it all.”
Ratliff, a Christian since he was 12, says part of Egg’s
success is that he doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. “Everyone looks at
the Pope as being all religious and all-knowing. But Al’s not like that…He
knows everyone on the team has a good heart. Bad things may happen, but you can
turn to God, and repent. Pray on everything.”
Bobby Medina, strength coach for the team, says NBA players
who generally trust no one nevertheless trust Egg, to the point of sharing
personal struggles in chapel—things they’ve never told anyone.
Medina doesn’t find it mysterious. “He’s the voice I
In a troubled and chaotic year, Egg has been a steadying
hand, Medina says. “Like when Coach Cheeks got fired, he was there to say,
‘Stay the path,’ and remind everyone that all this stuff is temporary…
“Seems like he’s always been there.”
Al Egg’s ministry to the Blazers is funded by Beyond
Victory Ministries, a nonprofit organization. Egg also serves as chaplain for
the Portland Beavers and the Portland State Vikings.
Increasingly today, it seems that behind every successful
political campaign there is a substantial war chest. And in Oregon, behind many
of those substantial war chests there is Lori Hardwick.
Though the political science major planned to join the
Central Intelligence Agency out of college, Hardwick got involved with the state
legislature, and 18 years later politics is still her game.
“Right out of college in 1987 I was in the state legislature
(as a legislative assistant to Republican Sen. Gene Timms from Burns) and in
the off-season I started managing campaigns,” Hardwick says. “I really liked
the events and money piece so that’s where it all started.”
Since then, Hardwick was an integral part of Republican Sen.
Gordon Smith’s 2002 re-election as well as his two campaigns in 1996, among
many others. She was Deputy Finance Chair for Bush-Cheney ’04 in Oregon and held a record-setting $1 million event for that campaign.
Hardwick has put together events from barbeques to ballroom
dinners but finds the most successful events are those that bring the candidate
closer to potential contributors where they can have some personal interaction.
“The most successful events are those where people can be
most social—like in someone’s home,” Hardwick says.
More informal events seem to work best in Oregon, which is
an example of the different cultures of giving in different parts of the
country, she says. In Washington DC, the ‘kick-off breakfast’ really works
well, but people in Oregon would have no idea what it was, she says.
Just as not every event works everywhere, not everyone can
be a successful fundraiser.
“It has to be part of your being,” says Hardwick. “What has
made me successful is that I’m hardworking, honest with clients and donors, and
loyalty and teamwork are very important to me.”
Hardwick’s years in the fundraising game have given her the
opportunity to create strong working relationships with clients and donors
based on honesty and credibility, she says.
“I’m lucky because what I do fulfills my passion for
politics even though I’m not making strategy decisions,” she says. “I love
meeting people inside campaigns and getting to know donors—about their lives
and what drives them. I know I’ll be doing this at some level for a long time.
There are more races I’m interested in winning. I’d love to win a Governor.”
The Ethiopian famine, the Mexico City earthquake, Hurricane
Mitch in Honduras, the floods in Mozambique, the tsunami in Indonesia. What do all of these disasters have in common? Marie Davis.
Since her first volunteer trip with the Northwest Medical
Teams International in January 1985, Marie Davis has dedicated more than three
years of her life helping those in the most dire need. Davis, who is a nurse at
Kaiser Permanente Ambulatory Surgical Center in Salem, has made 38 trips and
served in nearly every major disaster in the last 20 years—many in risky,
difficult places, like Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I have always wanted to serve
the needy in developing countries. I wanted to be in the Peace Corps, but could
not serve long term because I had family and other obligations. When Northwest
Medical Teams began their work in l979, I had two small children. I vowed, when
they were grown, to do a short-term mission with this fine organization.
“My opportunity came in 1985
when I spent six weeks in northern Ethiopia with starving refugees at Ibnat
camp,” says Davis. “After six weeks in Ethiopia and what I called a ‘Baptism in
Fire,’ I was hooked.”
The following year Davis’s entire family returned to Sudan, Africa where they spent three months working in
village health and development. Since then Davis’s husband Curt and two
daughters, Jennifer and Rachael—who are both now nurses—have traveled
extensively with her.
“I keep going back because I
have a good education in nursing and the ability to make a difference. I have
been given so much and therefore feel I should give back to those less
fortunate,” says Davis.
With so many trips under her
belt, which ones have left the biggest impression? Ethiopia and Rwanda.
“In Ethiopia we set up an
intensive children's health clinic where we saw typhoid, cholera, meningitis,
measles, pneumonia and many other diseases superimposed on malnutrition. Babies
were dying in the arms of their moms as they waited in line to be seen. I cried
for four days before I decided crying did not save lives and I finally got down
to hard work.”
“In Rwanda I saw the numerous
mass graves of the people who had been slaughtered in the war between the Hutus
and the Tutsis,” Davis says. “The grief was unbelievable both for us and for
the refugees. We had many small victories in Rwanda. In the refugee camps we
would listen to the stories and cry with the people. We knew it was important
for us to be there and it was a privilege.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way,”
says Joe DiCarlo, Northwest Medical Teams director of emergency relief, “but
she’s not someone who is ‘amazing’. But she is amazing because
she’s taking the gifts God gave her and using them to help so many people
around the world.”
Images of athletes with their heads hanging in despair—often
covered with a towel or helmet obscuring the anguish on their faces—are
commonplace in sport. Fans rarely catch a glimpse of the true face of the
agony of defeat. But Oregon State University’s freshman kicker did not hide his
emotions from the world on a soggy football field early last fall.
To say it was a big game for Alexis Serna doesn’t quite
capture the situation.
It was his first game as a kicker for Oregon State University and it was being broadcast on national television. OSU was playing Louisiana State University, the reigning BCS champions, on the bayou in Baton Rouge. The game
itself was delayed due to a wild thunderstorm that sent bolts of lighting
crashing outside the stadium as anxious fans waited.
OSU had the lead until the last few minutes of the game—an
upset was in their sights. Then LSU tied it 15-15. In overtime, LSU scored
again, but the Beavers answered with a touchdown of their own bringing the
score to 22-21. Redshirt freshman Alexis Serna set up for his third PAT (point
after touchdown) attempt of the night.
“I really don’t remember it,” Serna says.
What Serna cannot remember about his third missed PAT
that night is that immediately after it went wide right, he threw his helmet
down on the turf, jumped up and down screaming and dropped to his knees and
started tearing at the grass.
His two earlier PAT attempts that night hit the uprights.
Serna says he tries to hit the uprights to test his accuracy
during practice. “It’s hard to hit the uprights once, but twice is amazing,” he
In the locker room after the game, Serna laid face down on
the floor crying.
“I saw the camera there on the ceiling but I gave it no
thought,” he says. “It was so hectic and I was completely oblivious. The
defense was in their part of the locker room and they were yelling—I heard
them, but I was in my own zone. I knew they were yelling about what happened
and other people were trying to calm them down. I was in a daze.”
The next day, Serna’s sister picked him up.
“It was great to hang out with her and get a sense of
reality. It was good to realize that football is not everything—it’s just
something I’m doing while I’m in college, getting an education. I needed to put
it behind me and go back to practice on Monday,” he says.
Once school started, Serna was back to starting and had sat
out only one game since the LSU loss. He made his first appearance in OSU’s win
against New Mexico, making a fourth quarter PAT to the complete delight of
Beaver fans at Reiser Stadium.
“Proving that I could do it was a really big thing for me. I
wanted to prove that I wasn’t a mental case that would keep missing. I wanted
to put it behind me,” he says.
Since then, the walk-on kicker has earned a scholarship at
OSU. And Serna closed the season by being named second-team All-Pac-10. Friends
still tease him and occasionally pizza delivery guys and girls at parties
recognize him from his few days of infamy. But Serna says he’s gotten past his
performance in the LSU game and the numbers don’t lie: since then he has
converted on 40 out of 41 kicks.
Like “Pat” on “Saturday Night Live,” Eugene’s Liz Cawood is
Unlike “Pat,” whose gender remained a mystery despite every
attempt to out it, Cawood is most definitely a woman.
But try to peg her on her politics? Happy hunting.
Cawood came to the public fore in the 1990s when her public
relations firm—simply named CAWOOD—carried the banner successfully for the
coming of Hyundai to Eugene. To a wetlands parcel, no less.
Since then, candidates and causes have lined up at her door
to get the same against-the-odds results. Cawood is now considered a must-call
consultant for those in need of a voice, an image, a strategy. She has a finger
in all the big community pies, serving on several policy boards that advise
elected officials on economics, planning and development.
Her pro-business creds are impressive: Her clients include
wood products companies, developers and banks. Her biz reputation was further
embellished with her participation in the Gang of 9, a once-anonymous group
whose cartoons lampooning the city of Eugene over perceived anti-business
policies were the buzz of the town in 2001.
She held several posts within the Eugene Chamber of
Commerce. She was the founding president of the Greater Oregon chapter of the
Public Relations Society of America, a Rotary member, a former member of the Eugene/Springfield
Metropolitan Partnership Board.
She believes transportation is Eugene’s current hot issue
and that policy makers should design a plan that accommodates the fact that
people drive cars. She’s ready to roll up her sleeves.
She is also a trustee for the Nature Conservancy and this
year will work on its marketing committee. She loves TV’s “The West Wing.” Last
year, she put her efforts behind a tax increase to raise money for education
and social services, and linked arms with Democrat Kitty Piercy, now Eugene mayor, in the endeavor. While observers say she actively backed Piercy’s run for
mayor, Cawood says she did nothing official or financial to help Piercy, but
that she likes Piercy’s approach to the job and counts her among her friends.
So: Wall Street Journal or New York Times?
“I have to choose? Hmmm…Well, I guess it would be the Times,”
Cawood readily admits she is difficult to define, recalling
her own participation in a yearlong summit aimed at bringing two divergent
groups to consensus on the issues. She says she began by stating her position,
and then listened to the others. “At the end I believed something else…I found
that middle ground.”
Even in her personal life, there are contradictions. Loves chocolate, is
addicted to Caesar salads. Served on both the Eugene symphony and opera boards,
watches “Desperate Housewives” on television.
Eugene former mayor Jim Torrey likes the fact that Cawood
can’t be painted into one group or the other and believes it is the key to
getting real solutions out of a polarized community. With a foot in each camp,
he says, “She is a person who is able to calm the waters.”
His curriculum vitae is so long it requires a PDF file.
His bio elicits a feeling of inadequacy among people who
foolishly thought there were only 24 hours each day in which to achieve.
For Bernard Fox, PhD, chief of the Robert W. Franz Cancer
Research Center within the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute in Portland, a
single day is like a tiny briefcase stuffed with a month’s worth of supplies
and then sat on to accommodate a bit more.
Consider a shortlist of Fox’s accomplishments:
Fox was involved in the first-ever gene transfer experiment;
he launched the first gene therapy trial for cancer in Oregon.
He’s published about 57 research papers.
He is an associate professor in two different departments at
Oregon Health & Science University.
He created a training program to help doctors move proposed
treatments from the theoretical to the real world, a program he has re-created
in Munich, Germany, where he also has been a visiting professor—an
award-winning visiting professor.
He’s a frequent and sought-after speaker at professional
conferences and seminars.
He’s the co-founder of a group that shares information and
insights on cancer research.
He is currently in the midst of clinical vaccine trials
for melanoma, prostate and lung cancer.
He designed and supervises the Human Applications Laboratory
at the Research Institute.
But he doesn’t mind if folks call him “Bernie.”
His specialty is fighting cancer cells using
immunology—specifically, vaccines that prompt the body’s own immune cells to
recognize and attack tumors. In his research, he has discovered that if he can
activate these “Pac-Man” cells, as he calls them, in large enough numbers, he
can shrink tumors. Even melt them away.
Already, Fox has seen encouraging results in humans.
And it almost didn’t happen. Any of it.
Thirty years ago, Fox was attending seminary, bound for a
life in the priesthood. What happened? “I met my wife,” he says. “She corrupted
me. She’s wonderful.”
It’s a relationship that remains strong after three decades,
two children, and a job that jets Fox across the Atlantic on a regular basis
and keeps him in the lab as late as 7:30 most nights. There isn’t much time for
entertainment, except for snippets of movies he sees in flight and an
occasional game of golf.
But there is always Wednesday, a day set aside for “date
night” in the Fox household.
In the time that’s not dedicated to work or family, Fox has
another love: Michigan football. “Here’s hoping Joey Harrington has a good year,”
If Harrington were like Dr. Fox, maybe one day would do.
“I’m an entrepreneur at heart, like my dad,” says Maria
Eitel. He was the ultimate entrepreneur, always had creative ideas. He owned a
commercial boat repair business. My mom is the persevering family caretaker.
Growing up, we were the classic American family with multiple ethnicity.”
Born in Everett, Wash. to her first-generation Greek mother
and first-generation German father, Eitel graduated from McGill University in
Montreal, Canada in 1983, which she chose she says, not to study Greek or
German, but because she wanted to learn French.
Based on past performance, don’t get in the way of anything
that Maria Eitel sets her mind to achieve. Her path is fascinating because it’s
personal, creative, somewhat unpredictable, and it definitely spans the globe.
After graduate school at Georgetown University and a stint
at the U.S. Information Agency producing video programs, Eitel was ready for a
change. She says, “I was in D.C. and I thought it would be very cool to work at
the White House. So I just started asking people if they knew anybody who
worked at the White House. I was incredibly fortunate.”
Eitel landed a temporary assignment and was soon running the
White House office for media affairs. That was 1989-1992—the Bush I years. “I
left because we lost, and I was exhausted. After that, I faxed a resume to
Bilingual in French, before long Eitel was recruited by
Microsoft to do Corporate Affairs in Paris, France. “My daughter and I went to Paris and lived there for four years,” says Eitel. “That was the beginning of the antitrust
suit in Europe against Microsoft. Then Nike Corporate Responsibility called. I
came to Nike and I met people and I was blown away. I saw how passionate they
were about the corporate responsibility thing. It wasn’t just to come in and
fight a fire. You could see the path, tap into what Nike was all about. I have
not had a day where I’ve regretted the decision to come here. I’ve been here 7
This spring, Nike announced that Eitel would be the
president of the new Nike Foundation. This is a start-up—it needs time and
attention,” says Eitel.
Eitel has already traveled to India, Bangladesh, Brazil, and Zambia for assessment trips.
“Phil’s thesis,” says Eitel, “is that you invest in human
capital and it creates a positive cycle. Girls are the ‘point of the arrow.’
When you invest in girls the ripple effect is enormous,” says Eitel, who has a
14-year-old daughter. “We’re about poverty alleviation in creative ways. It’s
about girls and boys changing the world.
“When I travel,” says Eitel, “I always ask, ‘What do you
want to be? What do you want to do with your life?’ You’ll be in this village
where there’s nothing, and the kids will talk about their hopes and dreams and
you think, ‘What are the chances?
“Once in Bangladesh, there was this boy—he looked me right
in the eye and said, ‘Do you think because we’re poor we don’t have the same
dreams and hopes and ambitions?’ He wanted to be a poet.”
Eitel understands. Hope and ambition are in her blood, in
Eitel remembers walking from the Old Executive Building to the Oval Office with President Bush. Her mom and a friend, in town for a visit but
too shy to approach them, stood off to the side watching. She waved at them and
they took photos. “Growing up in an immigrant family was tough,” says Eitel.
“There were high expectations. That was the moment—seeing my proud mom—that I
knew I had achieved my parents’ goals for me.
“How do we get barriers out of the way so those young people
can achieve their hopes and ambitions?” Eitel asks.
But she’ll figure it out. Eitel’s entrepreneurial spirit and
the Nike Foundation’s $20 million in assets give a whole new meaning to the
words “girl power.”
Zach Mertens’ business, down an alley in Southeast Portland,
beyond the silver, metal door and up the stairs, is infested with hundreds of
thousands of bugs. But the five dogs that greet you at the door to Idylwilde
Flies seem oblivious.
“This bug looks like the real bug—it is actually that big,”
says Mertens, holding up a particularly large insect. “You’ll see it on a
couple of the lakes on Mt. Hood. This one hatches right around evening time,
right as it gets dark.”
Bins, hundreds of them, overflow with a variety of tiny
creatures, in all forms and colors. “These all represent different stages of
the same insect,” says Mertens, pointing to a row of bins. “The bigger ones are
for salt water or steelhead. Sometimes we imitate ocean food like this shrimp.
Others are just a lot of movement—attractor flies.
Mertens’s company, Idylwilde Flies, ties about 160,000 dozen
flies a year for the sport of fly-fishing, with sales mostly in the Rockies and
the West, some in the East and Canada. That’s about 14,000 dozen of the tiny
creatures every month. “It’s a lot of flies, a lot,” says Mertens. “It’s a
precise business. It’s kind of like fashion. There are some standards—flies
that year in, year out everybody stocks and sells a lot of them.
“It’s partly mimicking the insect and partly bin appeal,”
explains Mertens. “If it doesn’t have appeal in the bins, it doesn’t sell, so
it has to be a combination.
“The first rule for fly fishing, especially for trout,” says
Mertens, “is that you can never have enough flies. When you’re out there,
you’re always short the one fly you need. It depends on the watershed, but say
you’re fishing a trout stream in Montana, you’ll carry a box of
mayflies—hundreds of bugs.
Mertens got his B.A. from Lewis and Clark in 1992 and four
years later he started the company. “I just kind of winged it,” says Mertens.
But there’s more to the story.
Born in Hawaii, where his dad worked for Dole Pineapple,
Mertens lived in the Philippines, Hawaii, China (he speaks Mandarin Chinese),
and graduated from high school in Hong Kong. “In China,” says Mertens, “for
three years we lived in a city with no other Americans, so were pretty
After a couple years as a ski bum and fishing guide in Montana and Wyoming, Mertens had an idea. “When I was guiding I was seeing more and more
of the flies coming from overseas, but they didn’t know much about fly-fishing.
They either had an overseas person filling a market, or a U.S. fly tier who didn’t have any overseas connections. I figured I could marry the
two—knowing the product, and knowing how to operate overseas.
Mertens contacted an old friend from the Philippines. “My friend said, ‘How do you feel about working with the underprivileged?’ I
said ‘I’m okay with that.’ So he introduced me to Sr. Christine Tan, a Catholic
nun from the Philippines. She was from a very affluent family but she had
dedicated herself to the poor and she lived in the slums of Manila, with the
squatters. Sr. Christine passed away a year ago, she was very well known—the
Mother Teresa of the Philippines. She was a tough lady who believed in work and
not charity. And she told it how it was. She wanted jobs for her people, wanted
them to earn a living and get paid fairly. She particularly wanted jobs close
to people’s homes so they didn’t have to pay for travel or clothes and could
take care of their families. She said she would provide me with honest people
who would never steal from me as long as I treated them well.
“I went over and taught five people how to tie flies,” says
Now, nine years later Sr. Christine’s nephew, a Filipino
businessman and Harvard MBA grad, is Mertens’ overseas partner.
Idylwilde’s 150 Filipino employees make more than minimum
wage, earn Social Security, and a 13th month bonus. “Our people
being healthy, well-fed, and happy is the key, because we sell our product
based on quality,” says Mertens.
“We also worked with Sr. Christine,” he adds, “so we had
somebody that was monitoring us and making sure that her people were treated
fairly. We took unskilled people and gave them a skill that’s valuable. They
were the poorest of the poor. Now, they make enough money to support their
At 35 years old, with a successful international business,
Mertens still finds time occasionally to fish and ski. He and his wife
Katharine, a Purdue grad and equine vet, live on one acre in Clackamas County with three dogs, one horse and one cat.
It’s a bit like that old story of starting in the mailroom
and one day running the company. With the exception of the years while he was
busy with graduate school, Rod Ray has been working for the same company since
high school. He started out of high school—as one of three employees—and worked
summers during college for Bend Research Inc. Now, he’s president of the
“We’ve done contract research for over 100 companies—long
term contracts,” Ray says. “So although I’ve always worked for Bend Research,
I’ve gotten to know a lot of different corporate cultures and scientific
approaches over the years.”
Bend Research specializes in the
research and development of novel pharmaceutical-delivery technologies. In lay
terms, they make drugs work better.
“Drug molecules can be
problematic. For instance, some need to be released over time rather than all
at once,” Ray said. “We develop technologies that make those problematic drugs
work better than they would otherwise.”
And they do it all in beautiful Bend.
In fact, the founder of Bend
Research chose the company’s location due to its proximity to prime
fly-fishing, Ray says.
On a recent ski trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Ray happened to meet an Australian man who was interested in moving
from his home in Atlanta, Georgia. Ray suggested he come and visit Bend, and although he doesn’t have a job yet, he is moving there.
“Bend is a place where
technologically competent, motivated people want to be,” Ray says. “They just
move here—sometimes without even having a job first. We are always surprised
when we are ready to do hiring that there are so many good people from the
Of the nearly 150 employees, Ray
says about 130 of them have college degrees and about a third of those hold
advanced degrees. He believes that the company employs a large fraction of the
high tech employees in central Oregon’s burgeoning high tech industry.
Ray says that most of Bend
Research’s employees are active and enjoy spending time outdoors. The company
has hired a personal trainer to come twice a week to help employees get in
better and better shape.
“It’s a win-win situation for our
company,” he said. “It’s better for the employees and better for the company.”
Ray, who is a registered
professional engineer in Colorado and Oregon and holds a bachelor’s degree in
chemical engineering from Oregon State University and a master’s degree and PhD
in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado-Boulder, was born and
raised in Bend and loves the area and the community.
Bend’s Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades project
has been one of Ray’s pet projects since its inception in 2003. He serves on
the clinic’s board of directors.
“It is a completely volunteer-run medical clinic servicing
the working poor,” Ray says. “It plugs the hole between federal and state
medical programs and people who have insurance. It’s a cool deal and it’s
something I’m very excited about.”
To become a statewide sensation at 92 takes a certain kind
of person. One with the fight still in her.
That’s Dorothy English, focal point of Measure 37, the
measure that guarantees property owners compensation or development waivers for
loss of value caused by land-use rules imposed after they took title.
English, who with her late husband scrimped and saved to
afford a 39-acre parcel in Multnomah County, has spent 30 years fighting for
the right to build on it. Half of it has since been sold and English is hoping
to draw the investment value from the remaining land for her descendants before
Even after the measure passed, English says the county was
still trying to rip her off by delaying permit approval as long as possible,
hoping she would die before she could begin building. But on March 17 a special
waiver passed, finally allowing English to begin development.
But English isn’t done yet. “I’m glad I know how to swear
‘cause I got names for those people,” she proclaims.
At “92 going on 93,” English is far from retiring or
retired. She puts a reporter on hold while she deals with other important calls
that pour in.
She is blunt about the purpose of her fight: to stop what
she calls the “land-stealin’” ways of the state.
English is Oregon born and raised in a place called
Summerville, near Grants Pass. She’s quintessentially Oregonian, but in the
traditional pioneering sense. Consider this vintage Dorothy English story in
her own words:
“One woman called me and said, ‘You’re one of those people
that wants to build houses and run the cougars out of their homes…Do you have
cougars?’ I said, ‘Yeah, we had a good shot at one a couple of weeks ago.’ She
She stresses that she and her husband earned the land
through hard work—he on the railroad for 20 years and then at a Portland
tannery after that—she through 50 years of retail sales, beginning with school
supplies and later, with craft products at a store she called Dorothy’s Fiber
The flowers were an epiphany to English. “I love flowers,
but I realized I couldn’t take care of them like I had been, so I got my nose
into artificial flowers and it was like something I’d been waiting for my whole
The flowers were made of wood fiber rather than plastic or
silk, giving them a unique quality that caught the eye of a hobby magazine
editor who invited English to take her products on the road. English found
herself on the show circuit for two decades, demonstrating crafts and selling
Even now, she says, she loves to teach people how to do
things. This month, she’s planning a trip to Washington state to teach two
women crafters how to make paper roses.
As to how she feels about being the talk of the state at 92:
“I don’t feel swelled up at all… I’m just happy my efforts are helping other
A nanometer is a length of measurement equal to one
billionth of a meter.
It’s tiny. Actually it’s tinier than tiny ever imagined. It
makes the head of a pin look like Texas.
And it is the basis of the field called
nanotechnology—manipulating individual molecules and atoms at the molecular
level. It’s Vahe Sarkissian’s realm.
As Chairman, President and CEO of FEI Company headquartered
in Hillsboro, Sarkissian is watching the dawn of a new era in technology.
Nanotechnology is in its infancy but there is no end to what
it might achieve, Sarkissian says. “No one can predict what it will be able to
accomplish. There is no end to the possibilities.”
Sarkissian’s company makes tools for nanotechnology,
equipment that enables scientists to image, analyze and manipulate molecules
and atoms at the nano-level. According to a recent issue of Business Week
magazine, FEI is one of only three companies that have been winners in the
nanotechnology field thus far.
By understanding matter at the molecular level, scientists
are able to rearrange molecules to make other goods. For instance, if the atoms
in coal are rearranged, a diamond is created. Other real-world applications
already using nanotechnology include golf balls designed to fly straight and
nick-proof trims on Hummers.
“Even the most informed scientists admit that the
complexities about nanotechnology are enormous,” Sarkissian says. “There is so
much more to explore; we are just at the dawn of the technology. It’s like
space exploration. Just because we went to the moon doesn’t mean we understand
Sarkissian said his inquisitive mind and desire to always
push the edge of the envelope drew him to the sciences at an early age. From
his beginnings as a microchip designer, leading edge technology has always been
“Nanotechnology has the potential to affect all facets of
human life,” Sarkissian says, “from creating materials that are lighter and
easier to wear, to watches with larger data storage capacity, to medicine.”
The possibilities are limitless, he says. One of the most
exciting possibilities for nanotechnology applications is the development of
smart drugs and delivery systems that would be individually built to match a
specific patient’s needs. For example, a nano-drug could be built to seek out
and destroy the unique genetic profile of an individual patient’s cancer cells.
Though much of nanotechnology sounds like science fiction,
Sarkissian says most of it is well grounded in science. But don’t count out
more fantastic Star Trek-type ideas.
“It will happen, it’s only a matter of time,” says
Forgive Erik Sten if his laugh sounds more like the cackle
of legendary Hollywood actor Sydney Greenstreet (“Maltese Falcon”/“Casablanca”)—he’s got a right to enjoy himself. He’s had a very big year. After all, he got
a mayor elected and he managed to chase away a fairly large turnover company,
You doubt Erik Sten got Tom Potter elected? “It wasn’t until
Erik started working the phone and his press contacts that the Potter campaign
took off,” says one high-ranking Oregon government official.
Or just ask the Grant high graduate and two-term Portland city commissioner himself.
“Jim Francesconi and I worked together for a long time. He
is a hard working and ethical person but he wasn’t the best choice for mayor.”
Sten describes why he couldn’t remain silent. “At a certain point I felt I
needed to say what I thought publicly. If I didn’t, what’s the point of being
in office? Most of my people, my circle, said it was a mistake, that Potter was
going to get his butt kicked and ‘you will be punished by Jim.’”
Sten followed his instincts and won—helping Potter easily
defeat his well-financed opponent, Jim Francesconi.
Score: Sten-1, Portland Business Community-0
And then came Texas Pacific wanting to buy a Northwest
utility, PGE. Sten first learned about the deal when he got a call from Texas
Pacific proponent Tom Walsh.
Sten remembers his initial meeting with the Texas Pacific
executives. “I met with David Bonderman and Kelvin Davis. They were very
condescending to us. Patting us on the head.”
He explains that it was when Texas Pacific filed their
proposal with the Oregon PUC in March of last year that his fight began. “The
proposal stunk. Local ownership was a shell. There was no rate reduction. The
short-term focus was opposite of what the utility needs. It was clearly a play
for a quick buck by an out of state turn-around artist.”
“I gave a fiery speech at the City Club and said ‘this thing
stinks and ought to be turned down.’ It was the first rallying point for the
opposition. I was stopped by people for about a week who agreed with me.”
Sten compares his decision to fight Texas Pacific with his
support for Mayor Potter. “It was a bit like the Potter thing, when
conventional wisdom is wrong about what the public really thinks.”
Updated Score: Sten-2, Portland Business Community-0
And Sten’s next mission, besides having the city buy a
regional utility, is making future races for City Hall publicly funded. He
calls it “Clean Money.” Grabbing the $200,000 available public dollars requires
1,000 residents to give $5 for a commission race, and 1,500 residents to give
$5 for the mayor’s race. Sounds like a job for the unions, making this one more
like “Clean Union Money.”
Predicted “Clean Money” Score: Sten-3, Portland Business
If you’re Erik Sten, still in your 30s, happily married, and
having spent the last year playing the city’s king maker, and diverting
resident’s attention from a previous multi-million dollar water billing fiasco,
the future deserves a cackle.
Happily tucked away in south Central Oregon lives Rick
Steber, and he just won the Super Bowl. Well, the western writers version of
the Super Bowl—the 2005 Golden Spur Award.
Steber’s book, “Buy the Chief a Cadillac,” won the award for
Best Western Novel and joins the ranks of “Lonesome Dove,” by Larry McMurtry,
“Dances with Wolves,” by Michael Blake and “Skinwalker,” by Tony Hillerman.
The award will be presented by the Western Writers of
America at their annual meeting in June in Spokane, Washington.
“I was really surprised when they called me,” Steber says.
“I had to call them back the next day to ask if I’d really won to make sure I
Steber is using this opportunity to bring his books to a
wider audience. He has found an agent and is working on a deal with a major
publishing house that should be finalized this month (April). Previously,
Steber published his 34 books himself, and they were only available regionally.
“I’ve sold about one million books in the West, but I looked
on a map and it looks like there are a lot more people in the East,” Steber
Steber is eager to take advantage of the benefits of working
with a major publishing company.
“I’m looking forward to having more time to get back to
writing,” he says. “The more success I’ve had, the less time I’ve had to
Most of Steber’s books were written in his cabin in the
woods, he says. It doesn’t have any electricity so he takes 12-volt batteries
to run his laptop, and he had to run two miles of phone line in order to
receive telephone service.
“Now when the phone rings,” he says, “I say, why the hell
did I do that?”
Even leaving his cabin to come into tiny Prineville can be
culture shock for the 58-year-old writer.
“I like it rural,” he says. “If I can’t pee off the deck, I
don’t want to live there.”
“Buy the Chief a Cadillac” is about the termination of the
Klamath Indian Reservation in 1961. In a settlement from the federal
government, each man, woman and child on the reservation received $43,000 in
“I’ve heard that there are about 250 writers in the United States who make a living writing books,” Steber says. “The rest have to teach school
or do something else to make money. I’m lucky because I’ve been making a living
writing books since 1975.”
Fanaticism? No. Writing is exciting and baseball is like writing.
You can never tell with either how it will go
Or what you will do;
From the “Complete poems of
Marianne Moore” (1961)
Under a warm winter Florida sun, a 21-year-old rookie with a
golden arm punched his fist into a leather glove. The sweet scent of new mown
grass in the air and fresh white chalk on a perfectly raked infield was the
tableau for Larry Colton’s new life. The year was 1965. It was spring training
camp in Clearwater, Florida. Living his childhood dream of playing major league
baseball, Colton was one of the most promising young pitching talents in the
country. He had it all—a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies and an
engagement to a beautiful young co-ed from his alma mater, University of California, Berkeley. In July of that year he would be featured in Life magazine
as the groom in a fairy tale wedding on Rodeo Drive, to Denise Loder, actress
Hedy Lamarr’s daughter.
Flash forward 40 years, two marriages and two daughters
later. Life had certainly thrown Colton a few curve balls. Never would he have
imagined himself, in the spring of 2005, sitting comfortably surrounded by
books at The University Club of Portland’s library room, as the Writer in
Residence. Colton, author of four narrative nonfiction books, one a Pulitzer
Prize nominee, now pondered whether or not he would be the guy who picks up
Norman Mailer and John Irving at the Portland airport for his upcoming book
festival, Wordstock 2005. From April 19-24, Wordstock Festival will be held as
a benefit for Colton’s charity, the Community of Writers, commonly known as
In 1960 Larry Colton was an 18-year-old boy from the suburbs
of Los Angeles. Colton says, “I had an idyllic childhood, pretty conservative,
actually. I played sports and grew up near the beach. My mother was a housewife
and my father was an aerospace executive. I could have gone right into
professional baseball after high school but my father insisted on college.”
Colton attended Berkeley on a full ride scholarship and
majored in “beer and sorority girls” and graduated with a degree in
Communications and Public Policy—two skills he would put to good use. “At that
time in my life I had no notion of being a writer,” says Colton. “In fact, I
had to take what we called bonehead English at Berkeley because I flunked the
challenge test. Then I flunked bonehead English.”
He laughs. “I have often wanted to call that teacher’s assistant
who flunked me and wave my books in front of him and say, ‘See, see!’”
It would be a couple of years in the minor leagues before Colton would actually make it to “the show.” His first major league game was against the
Cincinnati Reds in May of 1968. And the first pitch was to Pete Rose. Colton says, “Yeah he got a hit off me; he doubled.”
A week later Colton was in San Francisco having a few beers
with an old friend after a game with the Giants. “I remember the night,” says Colton, “because it was the night Bobby Kennedy was shot. I came out of the bar and there
was a lot of confusion and anger in the streets and just before a fight broke
out I remember thinking, is the world going insane?”
There was a brawl and Colton injured his shoulder. Colton shrugs it off. “Hey I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It just happened.”
Colton’s pitching arm was never the same and his baseball
career took a slow steady slide. Without any bitterness, Colton says, “I never
would have become a writer had I not been injured. I would have been Sam Malone
in some bar telling stories about back when.”
For eight years he played in minor leagues and on club
teams. Then he made a personal decision to leave baseball. Colton played his
last season in 1970 with the Tacoma Cubs. He had a young daughter and
his marriage was falling apart. He decided to start over. He moved to Portland and through the recommendation of a friend started teaching through an internship
at Adams High School. “I liked English, and I really liked kids and teaching,”
says Colton. “It became my passion.”
When asked about writing, Colton says, “My friends told me I
was a good letter writer. I enjoyed writing. But you know really I’m a
storyteller and here’s the story. It was 1975 and there was a team called the
Portland Mavericks. The owner was Bing Russell, Kurt Russell’s dad. Our country
was in pretty bad shape; we were just pulling out of Viet Nam, and I was
realizing baseball just didn’t mean that much to me anymore. During the summers
for extra cash I painted houses. I knew I didn’t want to do that. My hair was
long and I had a beard. I looked like Charlie Manson. I tried out for the Portland team and made it.”
Colton laughs. “Russell gave me a good deal—$400 a week and
all the beer I could drink at a place called Peter’s Inn. I played for two
weeks and then I got injured. I wrote about that experience and submitted it to
the Oregonian and it was published ‘above the fold.’ That’s writer’s
lingo for the top part of the page. Six months later I quit teaching to write
Eventually Colton remarried and had another daughter. Colton went on to write hundreds of articles for magazines like Esquire, Sports
Illustrated and The New York Times Magazine.
In 1977 he wrote “Idol Time,” a story about the Portland Trail Blazers
in their championship year. “Living on a writer’s salary, trying to support two
daughters and my wife, took its toll on my second marriage and that ended,”
In the ’80s Colton worked for Nike as a corporate writer and
met his current wife Marci. “Corporate writing was not my calling, and it was
right around this time that I was losing the battle with the cocktails. I quit
drinking in 1988.”
He wrote a book proposal for Doubleday and in 1993 “Goat
Brothers” was published. “Goat Brothers” was the story of the lives of Colton and four of his fraternity brothers from college into their 40s. “Those were tough
times,” says Colton. “We went to college in 1960 in an age of innocence. When
we left there was a war going on, and demonstrations, guys going to Viet Nam. Berkeley was Berserkley. They changed the rules on us. After that book…some of
those guys won’t talk to me.”
Colton says the writer who has had the most impact on his
work is Truman Capote. Says Colton, “He is the guy who wrote the bellwether
book for narrative nonfiction—‘In Cold Blood.’ Truman Capote puts you there, in
Truman Capote’s influence is evident in Colton’s writing. Colton researched his third book, “Counting Coup” while living for 15 months with
the Montana Crow Nation. He immersed himself in the Crow culture and the lives
of the tribe’s high school girl’s basketball team during a championship year.
The book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2000. However, the reception was
not as glowing on the reservation. “I didn’t sugarcoat what I saw there. I’m
not sure I’d be welcome back,” says Colton.
“You want to know why? Read the book.”
Colton is completing his current book “Ordinary Joes,” a
true story about the lives of four World War II vets who survived the sinking
of their submarine off the coast of Malaysia in 1943. Colton laughs, “Yep, that
was due yesterday. I’m a little over my deadline.”
As important as writing is to him, Colton is also a
passionate beneficent. As a teacher, he saw a need in the Portland schools for
teachers to learn how to teach writing. In 1997 he founded the Community of
Writers, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving student writing by
improving instruction. Teachers take a much sought after 40-hour COW
Professional Development course taught by published writers and receive four
graduate-level credits from Oregon State University. To date, 850 teachers have
taken the course. More than 21,250 students from Portland, Tigard/Tualatin and
Clackamas school districts have been influenced by the program.
And Colton has raised the $2.5 million for the program over
the past eight years on his own. Along the way Colton has called on many
friends in the community. Tim Boyle, Columbia Sportswear CEO and longtime
golfing companion of Colton, says, “Larry’s the best at raising funds and he’s
very low-key about it. You’re playing a leisurely round of golf and betting a
few quarters on each hole; the next thing you know you’ve committed to help
fund Community of Writers on a major project…and you’ve lost the quarters as
Arlene Schnitzer, an old friend of Colton’s and a dedicated
supporter, sums it up: “Larry Colton’s work, from his art to serving his
community, is a genuine reflection of his inner self. He has always done well
and given to humankind.”
There are those who say Colton possesses great talent and he
should just write. He replies, “I know I get criticized for doing this, but
there is nothing like COW that I know of anywhere in the country and there is
such a need for it. The rewards that I get are in stacks of emails from
teachers thanking me. They say I’ve changed the way they teach. And I get it
from the kids. I have boxes of their writing. Not to mention the higher test scores
they’re getting. Every so often I read some of their writing and that’s enough
satisfaction for me.”
BrainstormNW - April 2005