• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Happening People

March 5, 2015

“My goal was to work at the Los Angeles Zoo,” says Karen DeBraal, who grew up in nearby Glendora. She earned a two-year vet tech degree, studied zoology at Cal Poly Pomona, then worked as a zookeeper for four years. “I was severely disillusioned,” she says. “I thought zoos should be genetic arks and participate in reintroduction.” DeBraal moved to Santa Cruz, where she worked for Greenpeace, served as media rep for Earth First! and returned to school at UCSC for a degree in environmental science.

February 19, 2015

“In sixth grade, I went to environmental camp for a week, in the woods near Placerville,” says Shelley Villalobos, who grew up on a 5-acre walnut farm near Chico, California. “I came back changed, aware that our choices matter for the planet.” Villalobos played softball all through school in Chico, for one year at local Butte College and for three years at the UO, while she completed a degree in journalism and wrote a weekly column on the environment for the Oregon Daily Emerald.

February 12, 2015

“I’ve had a garden every year since I’ve been an adult,” Kevin Hillman says. “My largest garden at home was 1,000 square feet.” After high school in Fremont, California, Hillman worked in steel fabrication for 24 years. He came to Oregon in 1978, found work at a machine shop in Springfield and lived in Cottage Grove. In 1985, he moved to rural Lane County outside Marcola. He left the machine shop in 1996 to work for the Springfield School District. He drove a school bus for a year then became a vocational assistant in the metal shop at Thurston High School.

January 22, 2015

A third-generation Eugenean, Dan Gleason attended Harris Elementary, Spencer Butte Middle School, South Eugene High and the UO, where he got a degree in biology and took a particular interest in birds. After a couple of years as a substitute teacher, he returned to the UO in 1972 for a job, preparing student labs for a variety of biology courses. Every summer since then, even after his retirement in 2004, he has taught a four-week field ornithology course for seniors and grad students.

January 8, 2015

“I was known as ‘eco-girl,’” says Kelsey Juliana, recalling her K-8 years at the Village School in Eugene. “I ran down the hall, turning off lights, and went through the recycling bin to find usable stuff.” The daughter of Catia Juliana and Tim Ingalsbee, who spurred on the Warner Creek timber sale protest, she was two months old when her parents got married at the protest site in May of 1996. “I grew up around adults who made it their life’s work to protect these places,” she says.

December 24, 2014

“We had an amazing world-lit teacher who introduced us to Greek literature,” says Johanna Mitchell, who was then a high school senior in Miami. “There was a lot of mention of planets. That’s astrology!” Mitchell went to a bookstore and found Sun Signs by Linda Goodman. “I devoured that book,” she says. “I knew then that astrology was a vocation.” She spent a year at the University of Miami, but dropped out to protest the Vietnam War, and for 10 years worked at retail jobs in fabric and jewelry stores in Iowa City and Berkeley.

December 11, 2014

SoCal gal Donna Riddle spent childhood summers at Outpost Camp on the trail to Mount Whitney. “My mom, my sister and I ran a trail camp for a pack station that hauled people to the summit,” she says. “I have love-of-nature genes from that time.” Riddle got married just out of Corona High School, had a couple kids and did anti-war work in Orange County. “I went to a protest in Century City,” she says. “People sat down, and police attacked with clubs.” A year later, in 1968, she and the kids moved to Eugene.

November 13, 2014

“I had an Irish Catholic upbringing,” says Maggie Donahue, who grew up in Chicago and attended an all-girls high school. “When I was 9, I did therapy, every day, at the home of a child in the parish who had brain damage. It led to a career in special ed.” She spent two years at an all-girls college in Colorado, then returned to Chicago and Loyola U for a degree in psychology.

October 30, 2014

The son of a civil engineer in Plainview, Texas, Larry Weaver studied math and physics at University of Texas at Austin and served in the Peace Corps in Colombia before he came to the UO for grad school in physics. “The research I did was in molecular biology, in Brian Matthews’ lab,” he says. “We studied the structure of proteins, using X-ray diffraction and a lot of math.” Weaver got his Ph.D. in 1978, did three years of research in Switzerland, then returned to work in the Matthews lab until he retired in 2005.

October 16, 2014

“I always loved drawing,” says Ken O’Connell, a San Francisco Bay Area kid who arrived in Eugene in the 1950s to attend Woodrow Wilson Junior High School and South Eugene High School. “I had an amazing art teacher, Larry Goldade. He got me on a pathway to study art.” After graduating from the UO, O’Connell served two years in the Navy off Vietnam, married Gwyneth, a fellow South Eugene grad, and spent a year in Eastern Oregon, teaching art at five different high schools. He returned to Eugene for an MFA and got a job at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario.

October 2, 2014

The son of a doctor and a nurse, Peter Ogura grew up in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. “It was a Leave it to Beaver kind of childhood,” he says. “We were big patrons of the St. Louis County Library.” After high school, he headed west to Colorado College, where he changed his major from English to political science. “I came out to Eugene for a couple of weeks in 1975,” he says, “to visit friends from home.” He continued westward to San Francisco for law school at USF. “It was there that I got into reading fiction,” he says.

September 18, 2014

“I was always a tomboy, building forts and riding horses,” says Angela Andre, who focused on theater and dance at Rolling Hills High School in Southern California. “I went to performing arts college for a year, but didn’t like the lifestyle, staying up late.” She began to study physical therapy, but then in 1974 met a guy who had a small farm in the Oregon Coast Range. “We were in the first wave of hippie back-to-landers,” she says.

September 4, 2014

“I knew I wanted to work with animals,” says Ashley Olson, who grew up near Sacramento with only a cat and the occasional newt or frog, until she got her first dog on her 18th birthday.

August 20, 2014

In Greenville, Michigan, where Frank Gibson grew up, the major local employer was the Gibson Refrigerator Company. “My great-grandfather, my grandfather and my father ran the company,” Gibson says, but the factory was sold when he was a child. 

August 6, 2014

“I got tired of rain,” says Ron Buss, who grew up in the Seattle/Tacoma area, but spent high school summer vacations with his older brother in Modesto, California, moving furniture for Beacon Van Lines. “I started when I was 14.” After graduation, Buss moved south to work for his brother, then spent a decade at warehouse work. He eventually got a truck and a PUC license and returned to household moving. “I made  $100,000 a year,” says Buss, who was supporting a house, a wife and three kids.

July 23, 2014

“New York didn’t resonate with me,” says Nancy-Diane Mannelli Brewer, who grew up in Northport, on Long Island. “It’s too fast-paced and competitive. I left when I was 18.” Mannelli studied for a year at West Virginia University in Morgantown, where she discovered Transcendental Meditation, and spent three years of quiet spiritual practice at an ashram in the Catskills, where she met her husband-to-be Bill Brewer, an artist. She taught TM for a while in Annapolis and in Bermuda, until she and Brewer got married, moved to Seattle and had a daughter, Rhice.

July 10, 2014

The daughter of a military man, Amy Red Feather was born in California and “moved all over” prior to her high school years in Slidell, La. “I got interested in permaculture and gardening,” says Red Feather, who completed a degree in animal science and conservation at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., then worked in ecotourism with conservation groups in Maui. “We showed them hidden waterfalls and talked environmental education.” On Maui, she met people from Eugene. “It’s like our sister city,” they told her.

June 26, 2014

The son of a natural science museum director, Glen Johnson taught natural science, archery and riflery at a summer camp while in high school in Angleton, Texas. “They loaned me out to other camps,” says Johnson, who became a traveling summer camp counselor while attending six colleges in eight years. He completed a science teaching degree at OSU in 1987, then spent 11 years in Eugene as a substitute teacher and a River House recreation guide. A photographer since age 6, he launched a new career in destination-wedding photography after his son Jade was born in 2000.

June 12, 2014

“I would like to be a useful person and bring a good change to people’s lives,” says Win Min, who grew up in Sin Tae, a farming village in western Myanmar. An avid learner in primary school, he was shocked, at age 11, when his parents told him they couldn’t afford tuition. A year of hard work on the family farm earned him permission to travel to Mandalay, where he learned that tuition was free at the Buddhist monastery’s high school. “I started learning English,” says Win Min, who memorized Myanmar history and became a tourist guide.

May 29, 2014

“My mom is white and my dad is black,” says Rena Dunbar, who learned about racism first-hand, growing up along with her twin sister Leah in Fort Wayne, Ind., a segregated steel mill industrial town. “Seeing discrimination made us activists.” The twins won scholarships to DePauw University in southern Indiana. They majored in English, started a chapter of Amnesty International and protested the first Gulf War. After graduation in 1994, Rena followed the Grateful Dead on tour as far as Autzen Stadium shows in June, and decided to stay on in Eugene.

May 15, 2014

A member of the Klamath Tribes, Rowena Jackson spent her early childhood in Klamath Falls and Chiloquin. “My dad passed away when I was 9,” she says. “He died of alcohol poisoning when he was 25. Then we moved to Portland.” Feeling that she didn’t fit in at school, Jackson dropped out at age 15, took GED classes at Portland’s Urban Indian Center and passed her exams at 16. “After that, I played,” says Jackson, who had $15,000 in an account derived from termination of her tribe’s treaty rights in 1954.

May 1, 2014

The daughter of parents who each became a teacher while she was growing up in Sacramento, Phyllis Haddox majored in education at Sacramento State and found work as a reading specialist at racially diverse Del Paso Heights Elementary, where she had gone to grade school. “The district had adopted the Direct Instruction model,” says Haddox, who came up to the UO in 1971 for training in DI, a highly scripted and fast-paced teaching method for young children, with its founder, Siegfried Engelmann.

April 10, 2014

After high school in Cleveland, Ohio, and a year at Case Western Reserve, Eric Schiff followed his older brother to Eugene and the UO. “We had done summer trips out here with the family,” says Schiff, who learned metalsmithing from Max Nixon, made jewelry, played fiddle in a few bands, studied computer science and worked as a pre-school teacher at the UO Child Care Center, on his way to a bachelor’s in sociology in 1977.

March 27, 2014

“I think of myself as a New Englander,” says Hope Crandall, who grew up in Connecticut and went to boarding school in Massachusetts. She moved west to Lake Forest College in Illinois for a degree in philosophy, then continued on to Woodburn, Ore., in 1970, for an Office of Economic Opportunity job in migrant child development. “I realized I wanted to pursue multilingual, multicultural education,” says Crandall, who enrolled in a grad program at UC Santa Barbara, earned a California teaching license, then returned to Oregon.