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Happening People

April 6, 2017

 “I started out as an ‘A’ student,” says Barb Ryan, who grew up in Schenectady, New York, and lapsed into depression and began using drugs after her best friend’s suicide at age 14 — eventually graduating in the bottom third of her class. “Later, looking back, I learned a lot about life and myself.” In her 20s, she volunteered for a suicide hotline while working for pay at a headshop warehouse. “I was clean,” she says, “and living in a socially active, anti-war Christian community.

March 23, 2017

“My parents were the children of sharecroppers in the panhandle of Texas,” says David Monk, who was born in Texas but was reared from age 6 in Las Vegas. “My dad worked at underground construction, digging tunnels for sewers and hydroelectricity.” After high school, Monk came to Eugene to study Russian at the University of Oregon. He took three year-long breaks to work underground, in a coal mine and a hydro project, on his way to a 1983 degree in political science.

March 9, 2017

“I’ve had two lives,” says Ilene Cummings, who grew up in Irvington, New Jersey, got married after high school and had five children by age 35. “I was a full-time homemaker: PTA and apple pie.” Then, at 38, she enrolled at nearby Ocean County College. Eight years later, with a degree in literature from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a divorce, she returned to OCC to start up a non-credit human growth and development program at the Center for Adults in Transition. “It was the era of civil rights and feminism,” she says. “Women came out in droves.

February 16, 2017

When twins Joshua and Benjamin Phelps were four years old and living in Pittsburgh, their dad Randy Phelps taught them to build a circuit with a battery and a motor. “He got us interested,” Joshua says, and two years later the family moved to Eugene, their dad’s hometown. “Over the years, we’ve built many more complex circuits.” They ran wires throughout the house for an in-home telegraph system and built an electric airplane that flew five blocks before landing in a tree.

February 2, 2017

The daughter of a pair of Methodist missionaries, Sarah Swofford grew up from age three to eight in Montevideo, Uruguay. “I was old enough to keep my Spanish,” she notes. Back in the U.S., the family settled in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. “After high school, I lived in Bolivia for a year,” she says. “I volunteered with a women and children’s social project in a rented garage. The director and I helped them find medical and legal resources.

January 19, 2017

“I studied for a year at the University of Dakar in Senegal,” says Michael Fuller, who was at the time a philosophy major at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. His graduation requirements included study abroad and work-study at home, so he also taught outdoor school in his home state of Maine. After graduation, Fuller returned to Ocean Park, Maine, to continue teaching outdoor school. He moved to Eugene four years later, in 1986.

December 22, 2016

“As a kid, I did drama, music and dance,” says Via Filipe, who grew up in Salt Lake City. “At first, my mom didn’t allow sports.” But her mother later relented, and in high school Filipe excelled at volleyball, basketball and track. She won a volleyball scholarship to the University of South Alabama in Mobile, and also played for the USA Junior National Team in Europe and for a pro team in South America.

December 8, 2016

A native of Clearwater, Florida, Sam Krop got her start in social and environmental activism as a student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. “I was working with Food Not Bombs,” she says. “The city had made it illegal to share food with more than 25 people. They were trying to suppress the homeless population. Lots of people got arrested, but in the end, the law was overturned.

November 17, 2016

On Sunday, Nov. 20, from noon-2 pm, Tsunami Books will host a book release celebration for Kristin K. Collier of Eugene, author of the memoir Housewife: Home-remaking in a Transgender Marriage. After high school graduation in Eureka, California, Collier’s planned odyssey to New York to study theater took her only as far as Wyoming, where she met the son of a rancher. They got married and moved to Eugene, where she studied English and he majored in architecture at the UO.

November 10, 2016

“I grew up on the creek,” says Lane County native Corrina Welding, “out past Pleasant Hill on Lost Creek Road, a mile from the dead end.” Her father, Alfie Welding, was a welder. He had a structural steel construction business and managed a crew of employees, working mostly in Eugene and Springfield. He was also a Vietnam veteran who had been exposed to the insecticide Agent Orange. He developed cancer years later and died in 2010 at age 59. Following graduation from Pleasant Hill High School, Welding studied at the Cascade Institute of Massage and Body Therapies.

October 27, 2016

Born in Sonora, California, to a Native American mother and a European-American dad, Sara Billdt grew up in several small towns in the Sierra foothills. After her parents divorced, she and her father, Luther Billdt, moved to Phoenix, Oregon, near Medford. “My father sold cars,” she says. “We were poor, but we had everything we needed.” After high school graduation in 2003, she and her father moved to Eugene, where he has retired. She held a series of food service jobs and began to sing and play guitar on open mic nights at Cafe Paradiso.

October 13, 2016

Though he was born in Eugene, Charles Denson moved to Silver City, Nevada, with his parents when he was 6. “We came back to visit family in the summer and for weddings,” he says. “I moved back in 2006 after high school and got started at Lane Community College.” He began to volunteer with campus groups addressing environmental and social justice issues, and he traveled to Copenhagen in 2009 with a group of young people to lobby U.S. delegates to the United Nations negotiations on climate change.

September 29, 2016

“I’ve been an artist my whole life,” says Mija Andrade, who made national news in 1986 at Salinas High School in California, when she went to the senior prom with her best friend, another girl. “We had boy friends at different schools. When we were denied permission, we took it to court and won the case.” Andrade studied graphic arts at University of California, Santa Cruz and worked for a decade as a graphic artist in Monterey. She began to study massage therapy in 1994, a year before moving to Eugene with her then husband.

September 15, 2016

 “My parents both taught piano,” says Amy van der Linde, whose father also taught math at Bennington College in Vermont. “When I was 6, they opened a summer piano camp in our house. I started teaching at age 9.” The camp, called Summer Sonatina, became so popular that the family moved, seven years later, into a 42-room mansion, previously a convent. “We had 26 pianos for 50 students,” she says.

September 1, 2016

  At age 15, Serena Orsinger has spent 10 years in French immersion classrooms, from kindergarten at Fox Hollow/Charlemagne through middle school at Roosevelt, to South Eugene’s International High School. She’s front row center in the photo. As a freshman last year, she was looking for a way to get involved in the community beyond school. “I wanted to volunteer at the hospital,” she says, “but they said I was too young.” 

August 18, 2016

“I started guitar lessons in third grade,” says Linda Burden-Williams, who grew up in Marysville, Washington, and played bass guitar for 15 years in Puget Sound-area rock bands. “Shady Lady, She, Ship of Fools, City Slicker,” she enumerates. “We changed names regularly. We played music on the road, six months at a time. We traveled with eight people, two dogs and a monkey in a school bus with a VW van on top.” 

August 4, 2016

A physician, a psychiatrist and a Jungian analyst, Dr. David Rosen spent 25 years in College Station, Texas, where he held the McMillan Professorship in Analytical Psychology at Texas A&M University. When he retired in 2011, Rosen moved to Eugene, a city he had first visited six years earlier. “I house sat for someone on Crest Drive and worked on a book,” he explains. “I enjoyed Eugene.” 

July 21, 2016

 When Lauren Moore was 6 years old, her mother, Anne Marie, suggested that she try a class at the U.S. TaeKwonDo College. “I liked it,” Lauren reports. “We were totally sedentary,” says her father, Michael Moore, who spends his working days on a computer. He decided to enroll as well and also recruited his mother Bonnie Moore, a Eugene native and a pharmacist. She calls it “a great family activity.” 

June 30, 2016

Ever since 1999, when the Rooster Man, aka Gavin Fox, long-time host of KLCC’s Saturday afternoon Blues Power program, was struck down by ALS, Skip Jones has kept the weekly Rooster’s Blues Jam alive. “Rooster hired me to be the house drummer in 1990,” says Jones, a regular at the Monday night jams at Taylor’s Bar. After years of hopscotching from club to club, the jam has enjoyed a stable venue for the past six years, Tuesday nights at Mac’s at the Vet’s Club, 1626 Willamette Street. Admission is free. 

June 16, 2016

In the spring of 2015, Samantha Wise took a job delivering The Register-Guard newspaper. She had a 5-mile route that took four hours to walk in the early morning. “I had painful knees from jogging,” she says. “I learned about barefooting, and I went without shoes around the house and doing errands.” 

June 2, 2016

Growing up in Nevada City in Northern California, Lisa Shea-Blanchard got her start in community theater at age 9 with the Foothill Theatre Company. “It was a big part of my childhood,” she says. “My sister and my parents were involved.” Shea studied for a degree in theater at UC Davis and an MFA at the University of Wisconsin, then moved to Seattle and took a job at the Museum of Flight, where she met exhibit manager Ken Blanchard. They got married and moved to Eugene in 1995. 

May 19, 2016

A third-generation Oregonian, Kay Holbo grew up in Grants Pass. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the UO in 1963, married history professor Paul Holbo and became a faculty wife with two kids. “I love to garden,” says Holbo, whose green thumb encompassed the pioneer Mulkey Cemetery, adjacent to the family home in West Eugene. “I saw in the old cemetery a beautiful landscape.” 

May 5, 2016

“I got started on gender issues in eighth grade, when I took an elective class on ‘The ’60s,’” says Maya Corral, now a sophomore at South Eugene’s International High School. “My friend and I did a project on the second wave of feminism and the controversy around birth control and gender roles.” Afterwards, she took a course on activism, including feminism.

April 21, 2016

 With a degree in marketing from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, Deron Fort returned to his hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania, for a sales job at a titanium manufacturing plant. “It was not inspiring work,” he says. “We wore badges to measure radiation from the electron beam furnaces.” Fort quit two years later to study for a master’s in education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, then taught middle school for two years.