Riversider Profiles

Abbey | Dorothy | Lucas | Leonard and Janet | Bill and Jackie | Matthew | Bodei  | Amira | Kylin & Paloma| Ben | Carson | Everley | Lily  | Annabella | Paloma  | Ruby | Beth | Maurine | Elaine

Abbey Making Most of Covid Time

Abby is definitely one of RCC’s precious jewels! Spunky, funny, out -going, social justice oriented, talented, smart and caring. What more could one ask for?

Riverside Church’s long-standing commitment to social justice and concern for the environment has resonated with Abby and compelled her to take action. Like many, Abby is troubled by police brutality and has attended some of the local BLM vigils so that she can support her friends of color. She also has dedicated some of her time to Columbia River Keeper, a local organization that focuses on climate and clean water issues, as well as helping to support the local homeless shelter program and FISH.

Abby is 16 years old and a junior at HRVHS. She was born and raised in Hood River and has attended RCC since she was about four years old. She lives with her mom, Dawn, who works in the field of physical therapy/ home health and her dad, Matt, who works in finance for a restaurateur who owns an Italian restaurant chain. She also has a dog named Vixen, and a cat named Erma who keep her good company while she is doing online school.

Abby is light-hearted and funny, but she also has the ability to be more serious when she needs to be. When she goes to college, she hopes to study social work, psychology and sociology because she thinks she might like to eventually pursue a career in social work. Covid -19 has been challenging, but these last few months have given her more time for self-reflection as well as time to read some books about psychology.

With an aptitude for the performing arts, Abby has studied both ballet and modern dance as well as voice, music and acting for several years. In her last theater performance, she demonstrated her expertise by being the dance captain. She is grateful for her choir teacher, Don Kenealy, because he is supportive, funny, dedicated and caring, and she is currently in the play entitled, All I Really need to Know, I Learned by Being in a Bad Play.

The holidays are one of Abby’s favorite times of year and we could all benefit from sharing in her enthusiasm. She loves the holiday season partly because Thanksgiving foods are delicious, and she also loves to watch Christmas movies. Her dog, Vixen, is named after one of the reindeer on Rudolph’s team so I am hoping she might put on a pair of antlers and join in the fun too.

– Katie Cook

Adventurous Dorothy Knows Valley, Mountain Top

Dorothy Mellenthin knows Hood River better than most. Born here in 1923 to a father who himself had been born in Hood River, she attended Barrett Grade School, located at the corner of Barrett and Methodist in the times when life was difficult, but simpler. Her family lived on Methodist, about a quarter mile from the school, and Dorothy burned through some shoe leather walking to and from school for eight years. Starting in ninth grade, she rode the bus to Hood River High School which was located in the current middle school building on May Street.

Her father, Ted Hackett, owned and operated an appliance store in The Heights. Today the space is occupied by Paddock’s Appliance Store. Hackett’s Store sold not only major appliances but also record players as well as records of the vinyl type. Ted was very interested in radios, having built his own when he was a child. Paul Henne worked for Ted at one time, prior to starting his own radio/electronics store in The Heights which later became the local Radio Shack, which even later was run by Dave Henne, Paul’s son.

As a young girl, Dorothy could be adventuresome. When she was sixteen, she climbed Mount Hood with a group of friends. She recalls that her day began at 4 a.m. and they initiated their ascent at Tilly Jane. They reached the summit before noon, but the sun had softened the snow to the extent that it was not safe to return via the route they had climbed. So they descended the south side of the mountain where Dorothy was roped between two young men who were not moving at the same speed, making her descent a bit uncomfortable. They made it down safely and then rode in the back of an open truck around the base of the mountain, back to Tilly Jane where they had parked their cars. She slept well that night.

At the age of nineteen, Dorothy married Pat Evans, also from Hood River. A year later she gave birth to Judy. World War II was raging and Pat joined the Marines. Unfortunately, he was killed on Guam in 1944.

In 1946, Dorothy married Walter Mellenthin who had returned to his home in The Dalles after serving four years in the Navy. Walt had studied a year at the University of Oregon prior to the war and, when he returned and married Dorothy, he was eager to get back into school. By then he had decided on OSU because of their Agriculture curriculum. Because he had a family and there was such demand for educational funds under the GI Bill, he had to establish a residence in Oregon for a year before starting school. Walt and Dorothy and Judy settled in The Dalles where Walt worked at several odd jobs for a year before enrolling at OSU and moving to veterans housing near Corvallis. Eventually they moved into Corvallis where Walt completed his degree and went to work for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Walt and Dorothy eventually had two daughters, Kay and Jan.

After graduation, Walt took a position as superintendent at the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station on Tucker Road in Hood River. The family lived on the Experiment Station property in a very nice house where they raised their three daughters. Dorothy was interested and involved in a number of activities and organizations in Hood River, including 4H, the County Fairs, the Hood River Garden Club, the Columbia Center for the Arts, and the Hood River History Museum. She and Walt and a few good friends were all members of the Carousel Club of Hood River where they took ballroom dance lessons and strutted their stuff regularly at dance parties. She recalls that dancing with friends was great fun!

When the girls were grown and gone, Walt and Dorothy built a home in Pine Grove near Panorama Point. They bought a sailboat and kept it on the river where they had many pleasant outings with friends such as Jim and Jackie Wade who also had a sailboat.

Walt and Dorothy owned a travel trailer for a number of years. One of their regular destinations was Phoenix, an area they really liked, and an area where they had friends. After Walt retired, they moved to Phoenix. While living in Arizona, Walt was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and the couple moved back to Hood River, to a home on Adams Loop Road. Dorothy lost Walt in 1999. He had spent his last 16 months in the VA Hospital in The Dalles. In 2000, Dorothy relocated to a lovely condominium on Avalon with a beautiful view of Mt. Hood. In 2018, she took up residence at Parkhurst but kept her condo and, until the novel corona virus changed everything, visited the condo several times each week.

Church was part of Dorothy’s life from an early age. Although her family attended a Baptist church in Hood River, she started attending the First Christian Church in Hood River as a teenager. The father of her first husband, Pat, was the minister at that church and that’s where she met Pat. Her second husband, Walt, had gone to school in The Dalles with the sons of Reverend A.R. Hutchinson. When Walt and Dorothy returned to Hood River following Walt’s graduation from OSU in 1952, Hutchinson was the pastor at Riverside Church. So they decided to try the church on for size, it fit, and they stayed. They were members when, in 1955, the church building was expanded to the west, adding the Pioneer Room (now the Riverview Room) on the top floor plus additional space below. Two of their daughters were married in Riverside Church in the 1970s while Arlan Fick was the pastor. Over the years, Dorothy taught Sunday School and really enjoyed her involvement in the Women’s Guild.

Dorothy’s oldest daughter, Judy Gaulke, now lives in San Francisco. Her second daughter, Kay, lives in Eugene, and third daughter Jan lives in Arizona. Continuing the string of female offspring, Dorothy also has three granddaughters. One lives in Seattle, one in Portland and one in San Francisco.

When you get to wondering what Riverside Church, or Hood River for that matter, was like mid-twentieth century, consider giving Dorothy a call. Many things have changed, some have not, and she’s witnessed it all.

– Doug Roof

Shooting for the Stars? The Moon? Maybe Both?

Lucas saw the movie Avatar when he was five years old and he was fascinated because “it was ahead of its time.” Lucas is “ahead of his time” too. As a 15 year-old sophomore, Lucas understands the value of working hard in school. He attributes much of his academic success to Eric Cohn, a favorite math teacher, who has challenged him to study honors algebra, trigonometry and calculus. In the future, Lucas is looking forward to attending college and probably graduate school as well. He is exploring the idea of studying genetics because he expects that they will be a big part of the future.

With the help of another friend, Lucas wants to share his knowledge of science and math. He is in the process of designing some small, interactive science experiments called “Stemonstrations.” He believes that it’s important to provide STEM activities for younger grade levels and he is more than qualified to take this project on because in addition to traditional classroom learning, Lucas has participated in programs and classes provided by the National Science Foundation in Washington DC and other international programs as too. Lucas also enjoys robotics and has joined Java and other robotics teams with some of his good friends.

Riverside Church has played an instrumental role in Lucas’ life from an early age. He was baptized in this church and believes that it has contributed to his faith formation. So far, his faith journey has helped him to develop a strong understanding of what is right and wrong and now he is in the process of trying to discern what this means on a deeper level because of the BLM movement and the murder of George Floyd. One of his most memorable church experiences was working at the Blanchett House and serving food to people in need. He said it was rewarding because he knew he was making a difference. At our annual church retreat at Camp Adams, he most enjoyed hanging out with his family and friends in his church community.

Because of Covid-19, Lucas has figured out how to adapt to online learning, but he misses the levels of engagement that in-person learning can provide. He has managed to stay in contact with several friends and this has kept him from being too isolated. By nature, Lucas says he is more of an introvert and one advantage of online school is that he has more time to pursue other interests. He studied piano when he was younger, and he is glad that he now has some time to take more lessons. Covid-19 has also afforded Lucas more time to read. He loves science fiction and he is fascinated by authors who manage to build stories around creating entirely different worlds or civilizations. Some of his favorite science fiction books are Scythe, Steelheart, Leviathan and The Dune Chronicles. He also enjoyed Boys in the Boat, and Refugee.

Lucas has lived in Hood River his whole life and he has two younger sisters, Kylin, 13, and Alyra 10. He has a golden retriever named Pascal and a Siamese cat named Cinder. His mom is a pediatrician and his dad is an emergency room physician and when asked how his family ended up in Hood River, Lucas said they were drawn to the area, in part, because of wind surfing. Lucas has recently taken a part-time job at the Riverside restaurant and he also enjoys being on both the HRVHS swim and water polo teams. He in the process of learning how to drive and likes to play video games with his friends when he has extra free time. Lucas has traveled to Mexico, Aruba, Canada and hopes that he might be able to travel to Japan, Australia and New Zealand. He is intrigued by these places because they are so different from the U.S.

Lucas wants to build a comprehensive portfolio so that he can aim high and shoot for the stars. He is obviously well on his way!

– Katie Cook

Mr. and Mrs. Riverside Roll Through 50 Years of Change

Leonard and Janet Wood have been a part of Riverside Community Church for nearly 50 years. That’s not a typo. Fifty!

Janet was born in Hood River, grew up here, and graduated from Wyeast High School. After attending business school in Portland, she went to work for an insurance company based in Portland. She traveled to Cleveland for training, then opened an office for them in Tucson, and finally landed in their operation in Sacramento.

Leonard was born in Portland. While his father was overseas with the Army in World War II, Leonard and his mother moved to Boise to live with Leonard’s grandparents, the first of many moves. When his dad returned from the war, the family moved to Nampa. His dad was employed by JCPenney and on a management track that saw the family relocate to Pendleton, then to Hood River, then back to Pendleton, and on to numerous other locations in the Western US. His father eventually settled the family in Stockton, where he got into the motel management business and where Leonard graduated high school. Leonard spent some time performing general maintenance at the family motel and restaurant before taking a job with SCM, where he was a calculator repairman when calculators were mechanical in design. As that technology transitioned to electronics, Leonard went to work for a restaurant supply company, and then moved on to become a sales representative for a tobacco company.

Janet and Leonard met at a young age. They were both in grade school when Leonard’s family moved to Hood River with JCPenney. The two families became friends and their parents remained friends even when, three years after arriving, Leonard’s family moved away again. Janet remembers Leonard during those three years at Pine Grove Elementary: “I always thought he was the cutest little boy!”

As a result of their parents’ friendship, Janet and Leonard reconnected years later when they were in their mid-twenties. Leonard’s parents invited Janet to Stockton to join in the celebration of Leonard’s parents’ shared July 5 birthday. Leonard, who then lived in Reno, was given the assignment to pick Janet up in Sacramento and bring her with him to the birthday celebration in Stockton.

A mutual attraction bloomed, and they dated about a year. It didn’t take Leonard long to propose; even so, his dad’s patience was stretched thin. At one point, he told Leonard, “If you don’t ask Janet to marry you, I’m going to.” They were married in 1970 at Riverside, Pastor Arnold Brown presiding.

The happy couple lived in Sacramento for three years. Six weeks after the birth of their first daughter, Julie, in 1973, they moved to Hood River where Janet’s parents owned a farm that had been in the family for several generations. Her grandfather came to Oregon from Iowa in the early 1900s and eventually started farming in the Hood River Valley. Her father served in the Navy before returning to farming. The family landed on the current farm location in the Pine Grove area around 1950, where they currently grow six varieties of pears, mostly Anjous. The technology associated with producing a successful crop of pears has changed significantly since 1950; you should ask Leonard or Janet to give you an overview sometime.

Back to this couple’s story. There were no immediate openings on the farm when they moved from California, so Leonard went to work for Hood River Supply and stayed with them for five years. From there, he moved to a quality control position with Stadelman Fruit. In 1977, their second daughter, Jennifer, was born. After about a year at Stadelman, a job opened up at the family farm and Leonard took it.

Janet recalls growing up in a family with three younger brothers and she recalls that money was always tight. But that didn’t keep them from enjoying an annual family camping trip with friends. Janet also enjoyed skiing during the winter months. She played the piano from an early age and, as a teenager, often played in organ and piano duets at Riverside Church. She was active in 4H, achieving first place and grand champion ribbons for her scratch angel food cake.

Leonard suffered from hearing loss from birth which, combined with his family’s many relocations, made it challenging for him to make a lot of good friends. However, he turned a few heads when, in high school, he bought a 1958 Austin Healy Bug Eye Sprite. He also owned a Chris Craft boat during his bachelor time in Stockton and became an excellent water skier.

In 1973, Leonard joined the Pine Grove Fire Department where he remained a volunteer for the next 35 years, as well as an EMT and first responder. He was elected to the Board of Directors of the Fire Department and also served on the Hood River Supply Board for 18 years, including three 3-year terms as chairman.

Janet’s association with Riverside Community Church dates back to her elementary school years. She was confirmed at Riverside when she was 13 years old. Leonard was raised a Catholic and decided to become a part of Riverside shortly after marrying Janet. Julie and Jennifer grew up in Riverside Church and were active in the children and youth programs. Like their mother before, the girls had opportunities to play organ and piano duets during Sunday worship.

Today both daughters reside in Oregon and spend a lot of time in Hood River. Julie, a graduate of Lewis & Clark College, is an entrepreneur with her own bookkeeping business, and teams up with others to run several small businesses. She and her partner, Brian, are very active athletes. Brian is involved in promoting and selling Fischer Skis. Jennifer has been the manager of and buyer for G Willikers Toy Shoppe in Hood River for twenty years. She and husband Toby live in Dundee where Toby’s two children reside.

Leonard is a past trustee of the church and, in more recent times, has served on the Council. He currently serves on the Building Committee. One of his most memorable events goes back to the 1990s when he was active in initiating and supporting a major remodeling of the church sanctuary.

In 1981, Janet became Office Administrator at Riverside and served in that capacity for 29 years! Both Janet and Leonard served on the Diaconate and Janet has been on many of the church boards, including the Christian Education Board. She is a past member of the Justice & Witness Board.

Over the years, Leonard and Janet have seen many changes at Riverside. Some have been very challenging, including the loss of members over adoption of the Open and Affirming status. They have experienced the ebb and flow of the church’s energy during periods of change, such as the transitions between pastors. During their married life, they have witnessed the coming and going of 14 pastors, including five interim pastors. They appreciate what the church stands for in this community and they appreciate the leadership and guidance provided by Pastor Vicky. Janet feels that her church experience has kept her open to new thinking and helped her to understand what fills her spiritually. While change has often been difficult, and there have been some significant bumps in the road, she has grown and has learned to forgive.

Both Janet and Leonard smile when they recall several long-serving members of the church referring to the couple as “Mr. and Mrs. Riverside”. As they approach 50 years of active service to this community, it’s a fitting moniker.

— Doug Roof

A Dance Leads to a Long Life Together

In 1952, in the fall of their 7th grade year, Jackie Eicher asked Bill Light to a Halloween party, and two weeks later, to the Sadie Hawkins Day dance. She could not have imagined a school-girl crush would lead to a lifetime with Bill, two children, travel to 30 countries and a life jam-packed with volunteer and professional pursuits.

But that fateful fall in Lima, Ohio, brought them together, and they stayed together through high school, and two years of college at separate schools, when they married. They will celebrate 60 years of marriage this month on July 13.

They graduated together from Shawnee High School where Bill was an athlete as well as a scholar. He lettered two years in football, two years in basketball, one year in baseball and four years in golf. In football he was All-League, both offense and defense. He still had time to keep up with his studies and graduated salutatorian of his class. Jackie was equally engaged in high school, active in the Girls Athletic Association, the orchestra, where she played string bass, and the choir. She was elected homecoming queen her senior year.

Following high school graduation, Bill headed off to Princeton University for two years and Jackie went to Oxford, Ohio, to attend Miami University, where she played on the varsity women’s basketball team. But after two years of college, love prevailed, Bill and Jackie were married, and Bill transferred to Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio, where he majored in Chemistry. From there, they were off to the University of Michigan medical school in Ann Arbor for four years where Bill trained to become a dermatologist, followed by a one-year internship in Kalamazoo.

By that time, the Vietnam War was cranking up and Bill and Jackie had two children: Brad was born in 1961 in Bowling Green and Karen in 1964 in Ann Arbor. Bill volunteered and joined the Public Health Service and worked the next two years in a research lab in Providence, Rhode Island.

From Providence, they moved back to Ann Arbor for Bill’s three-year residency in dermatology. In planning where they wanted to live, they considered the Pacific Northwest and traveled to Idaho, Washington and Oregon. But they landed back in Lima. In 1972, Bill joined another dermatologist in a practice there and the family remained in Lima for the next 38 years.

While Bill practiced medicine, Jackie was busy with the children as a leader with Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. She organized an environmental education program for a Girl Scout day camp. She was a volunteer at the local hospital. From 1988 until 1996, she owned and ran her own retail yarn shop where she also taught knitting and other handwork skills. She became an accomplished seamstress, creating clothing as complicated as women’s suits.

Jackie was president of the local Audubon Society and active there for a number of years, even earning the Great Egret Award. In 1979, she launched an annual Environmental Education Weekend for the eight-county region encompassing Lima, a program that continues to this day. An avid photographer, Jackie taught herself how to create multiple-projector 35-millimeter slide presentations with background music, prior to video cameras becoming affordable for hobby use. She employed this talent in both her volunteer work and in recording and presenting some of the Lights’ many vacation adventures.

Both Bill and Jackie enjoyed playing golf over the years. In one of Bill’s most memorable golf tournaments he competed against, among others, a young guy named Jack Nicklaus. Another memory from their golf endeavors is that both Bill and Jackie made a hole-in-one on the same golf course, on the same hole, but not in the same round.

When Bill was still in high school, his father bought a cabin on Coldwater Lake in Michigan. That’s where Bill, along with Jackie, occasional water skiers, became even more interested in the sport. He and a friend took the summer between their junior and senior years to remodel the cabin, and they found time for some water skiing. Ever since that summer, continuing through their child-rearing years, water skiing was a much-loved family activity. Both Bill and Jackie were accomplished on a single ski (slalom) and were able to ski no-hands (one foot in the ski, the other on the tow rope). Bill was also pretty good on trick skis, spinning around and skiing backwards when the rear view appealed to him. Their most memorable skiing accomplishment together was the day they created a pyramid with Bill’s sister standing on their shoulders while Bill and Jackie were on skis behind the boat.

While in medical school, Bill took up windsurfing, too. Jackie was never as interested as Bill, but Bill took opportunities over the years as they vacationed in Florida and on the West Coast to practice the sport and to teach the kids.

Bill and Jackie have traveled extensively over the years, often as tent-and-canoe campers and often with good friends. They figure they’ve been in 49 of the 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries. They’ve accumulated many stories during those travels, and one of Bill’s favorites is when they traveled to the Holy Land with a group from their church. They were staying near the Sea of Galilee, and Bill and a friend went out very early one morning to swim in its icy waters … right where a different church group was holding a sunrise service. Let’s just say that the group had not planned on Bill and his friend being part of the quiet morning scene.

Jackie has always been interested in animals. Several memories of surprise encounters bring her a smile. There was the seal she approached, unobserved from behind, on a New Zealand beach, which she startled by reaching out and touching its rear flippers. The beast swung around, let loose a frightening snarl, and bared its teeth. Oops! And the armadillo in Florida that she surprised when she touched it from behind and it leaped vertically upward, with Jackie almost simultaneously leaping vertically upward (remember, she played college basketball). But turnabout is fair play. There was the monkey that surprised her while she was reading on the patio of their lodge during a trip to Kenya. Determined to scare it off, she threw her arms over her head, bared her teeth, and made a frightening yell, only to have the monkey mirror her reaction, just as violently. Jackie retreated inside.

Beginning around 1990, Bill and Jackie frequently visited Richland, Washington, where their daughter, Karen, and her family were established. By 2000, they had decided to invest in real estate in Hood River. They bought a home on Fir Mountain Loop next door to Rodger and Judy Schock’s home. Although they did not relocate to Hood River permanently until 2010, they spent many weeks here each year, eventually expanding the home for their full-time residency.

Bill has a woodworking shop and over the years has crafted some beautiful furniture, primarily for family members. The closet in the Riverview room that holds the communion sacraments was one of his creations.

Today, the Lights’ two children and four grand children also live on the West Coast. Karen is still in Richland, WA, with her husband and two children. Brad is in Pleasanton, CA, with his wife and two children.

Bill was born in Lima, Ohio, and grew up there in a Presbyterian church. His dad, was a physician, in the U.S. Public Health Service.

Jackie was born in Leipsic, Ohio, 30 miles north of Lima, and was raised in a Methodist church, in which they were married.

When they ended up living year round next door to Rodger and Judy Schock, it didn’t take Rodger long to encourage Bill to bring Jackie to a worship service at Riverside. Bill did and they found the people to be very welcoming and the service-oriented mission to be consistent with their values. Riverside Church became their new church home.

Bill and Jackie are now living at Down Manor, if you would like to send them a card for their 60th wedding anniversary.

Doug Roof

Matthew: Buried in a Book

May, 2019

“I like it and I come here because I like helping people. It makes me feel empathy towards people who might not just have everything they want.” 

That’s what eleven-year-old Matthew says about spending a beautiful spring day inside at FISH foodbank, taking customers around the store to help them stock up on food. 

Matthew has taken every opportunity he can to help out at FISH, often accompanying his parents or older brother Sam, until he was old enough to participate on his own. He likes reading, math and P.E. in school, and also likes to play basketball.

As a 6th grader, when he’s not at FISH, you just might find Matthew with his head in a book, as his favorite subject is reading. He is a fantasy reader fanatic and can easily list several series of books he’s devoured. Right now, his favorite reading is “Keeper of the Lost Cities,” a fantasy tale about a place, as he explains, where magical creatures and humans have to learn to interact.

Matthew is one of those quiet youth, who obviously spends a lot of time thinking about and imagining his world. Those thoughts also make him think about how his interactions affect others. When asked what he would tell someone about volunteering at FISH, he volunteered this reflection, “It opens up your mind to the world and it’s a really fun experience.”

Thank you to Matthew for participating with us at Riverside.

Bodei: Helps at Home, on the Beach

June, 2019

Bodei loves the outdoors, and that’s why he recently came along on the Middlers service trip to the Oregon Coast. Bodei is pictured here with a pair of kid scissors he picked up at the beach, which were still sharp and able to cut, so he donated them to the church Sunday school.

He was one of ten Middlers who went to the beach May 3-5 to participate with the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition in not only picking up trash at the Cascade Head Marine Reserve, but sorting and categorizing it for scientific research. “I liked helping out cleaning the beach and helping save wildlife by getting rid of plastics. We’ve done some school projects like that.”

Bodei is in the eighth grade, and is a very well-rounded young person, who enjoys skiing, soccer, and running long distance in track, as well as reading and math in school. He is also the oldest child in a family with three other siblings: Annabella, 11, Rocco, 9 and Nils, who is 7. Bodei says he gets along well with them and helps get the younger ones dressed and put their clothes away, not to mention his other household chores of recycling and emptying the dishwasher.

At church, Bodei completed Our Whole Lives last fall. He remarked that he learned way more in that 16 week curriculum than he ever did in school, and says, “I was kinda surprised how much I learned – way more than I expected.”

This summer, Bodei is looking forward to traveling with his family to Canada, and has already seen almost all 50 states. And when school starts up again, he and his family are regulars at the Camp Adams family camp in November. What’s his favorite activity at camp? There was no hesitation with getting an answer to that. “Playing in the gym!”

Amira: Finding the Holy in Art

July 2019

“I feel really calm and collected when I look at something God created and that’s probably why I like drawing.”

Amira is not your typical 11 year old. Spend a few minutes in her company and you can reflect on the saying that “still waters run deep.”

This is a person who goes out of her way to share her talents. When Elaine Thompson’s brother passed away, she painted her a lovely picture of an owl flying in the woods. She also took a good thirty minutes in Sunday school to depict a crawdad on the banks of the river for the Rodger Schock memory book. She claims about her talent, “I’m just as good as you are, I just do it more often.”

When Amira isn’t drawing, she often likes to cook, mostly sweets, but has also made the occasional dinner of mac and cheese for her family. Amira is drawn to both cooking and art for the reason that both are something she can share with other people. She has had a few cooking failures, especially with macaroons. One time Amira says the recipe wasn’t any good, and the second time the cookies all stuck to the parchment paper! But as a young person, going into the sixth grade this fall, she says she has learned from her mistakes, and keeps trying.

Of course, she is also never far from a book, having read the entire Harry Potter series and the Percy Jackson books … all, many times. She has a busy summer planned, with roller derby camp, visiting relatives and traveling on the agenda.

Amira is looking forward to her twelfth birthday in September, and she shares that birthday with two other siblings. As a triplet, she has noticed the benefits of always having someone to play with, but explained that also means she always has to share everything as well, which is an art in itself.

And art is part of what she likes about coming to Riverside. When asked about her favorite part of church she said she really likes “all of it”, but would tell people it’s a “cool place where you can get connected to God. It’s easy going, fun AND there is lots of art!”

Kylin and Paloma: Adventure Girls Buddy Up

August, 2019

Nothing like having a buddy at youth group!

Kylin has been attending Riverside since she was a very young girl, but Paloma just started this past year. They met during a skit the youth group did for a spring worship service, and then bonded this summer at a week-long girls adventure camp.

When they both showed up to serve at FISH foodbank last month, they wanted to be together helping the customers.

“I like Paloma because of her humor,” says Kylin, “and, I like her shoes!”

Paloma was wearing a pair of stylish red Converse and she noted of Kylin, “She’s very calm and mature. She’s definitely quiet, but in a good way.”

In fact, Kylin did not want to be interviewed alone, but opened up once we got talking about Oregon Battle of the Books, a passion of hers. Every summer, Kylin reads 16 books – two times each – to enter the competition. She was understandably proud to beat her older brother, Lucas’s team, when she was in fourth grade.

Now she’s entering seventh grade and is the middle of three children in her family, with her younger sister, Alyra three years behind. Kylin says of being the middle, “I get to do things earlier than my brother, but Alyra gets to do even more!”

Paloma is the oldest of four kids, and welcomed a new baby brother, Bennett, to the family this summer. Her other siblings are Georgiana, 9 years old and Julian, 3.

Paloma loves drama and was recently in the Mary Poppins production put on at the middle school summer program. She is also passionate about any kind of crafting. “Hot glue is my favorite!” She is enrolled at Frontier Charter, taking her public school classes online.

That’s why the girls first met at church and later at adventure camp, since Kylin goes to Hood River Middle School. Part of the girls shared adventure camp experience had been at FISH foodbank, pulling weeds. But they also enjoyed hiking Beacon Rock, going white water rafting and learning survival skills.

They are looking forward to more time together in the middler youth group, as Paloma has told Kylin about the beach clean-up trip she was able to take with the group this past spring.

Both new friends said about church that it is “fun” and when asked what they liked best, agreed wholeheartedly that, “it includes everyone.” And Kylin, with her shy giggle added, “And at Easter, the little kids don’t get trampled!”

Ben: A Riverside Native

September, 2019

If you want an example of a well-rounded and balanced young person who has grown up at Riverside, look no further than Ben.

At 17, Ben consistently shows up at FISH Food bank to volunteer, has spent the past seven years going to Camp Adams, is involved with the church youth group, graduated from OWL and has been to the UCC Western Regional Youth Event.

We chatted as we sat on a bench at FISH Food bank that he created as part of a required school project. He made the bench realizing that, “People here need to take a load off. I imagine they are dealing with so many other things.” Ben says he likes being part of the youth group, which nudges him out into the community and gives him opportunities to help. At Fish, he observes the customers are “just normal people like us, who need a little boost.”

Ben is the still-waters-run-deep type, who will open up about his spiritual side if asked. Camp Adams is a spiritual home for him, where he says he “feels connected to people and God.” One of his favorite camp traditions is going to vespers every night, crossing the bridge and being silent as he goes up the hill to chapel. One of the connections he has made is a friend in Portland, another UCC youth from the Parkrose church. Now that Ben is old enough to drive, he was driving in to see his friend later in the week. And he is also good camp and school friends with Mateo Campos-Davis, who attends Bethel UCC.

Ben excels at school, especially math. He has his sights on going to California and hopefully Cal-Poly for college in a year. Besides school work and volunteering, Ben also finds time for soccer and tennis. His older sister, Caitlyn, just graduated from college in California and she was also very active in the church youth groups and camp.

In a day and age when many youth are questioning God, I thought Ben had a beautiful answer to what God feels like to him. We both admitted God was beyond description, but in essence God comes to him in “a sense of unity between people and everything working in harmony.”

And when you are sitting together on a bench made out of compassion for people, you can see that unity at work in the world through the hands of Ben.

Carson: Oldest Brother Sees God in his Heart

October 2019

If you don’t know this fourth-grade boy with twinkling blue eyes, you’ll recognize him from his comments during Children’s Time. He’s the one, when asked what makes his heart happy, pointed to his one year old baby brother Isaac and said, “He does.”

Carson has a full household: a younger sister, Lily in kindergarten, two goats names Bingo and Bongo, one dog, Lucy and a tabby cat Talulah, along with mom, Melissa and dad, Kevin. Grandma also shows up on a regular basis to enjoy the baby.

If you want to get to know Carson, who describes himself as “kinda shy,” he says it’s OK to share a seat beside him during coffee hour. His favorite thing about church is getting to load up his plate with treats. Then he might tell you his favorite class in school is science, and as an inventor, he’d like to create a robot that makes coffee and cocoa.

Carson is also exceptionally talented at origami, and was seen last year at Camp Adams folding paper into all sorts of objects. At camp this year, he’s looking forward to crawdad fishing and making bracelets.

He also was asked during Children’s Time what he was grateful for, and stumped Pastor Vicky with his grown-up answer of “R and R.”

“R and R?” she queried. “You mean rest and relaxation?” Carson claims as an avid reader he learned the term from a book. He adds to his life with soccer in the fall and is a year-round water polo player.

His favorite food is a cheeseburger, but hold the pickles, which he will not eat.

However he has ingested a great deal of spiritual sense through his family and church along with the loaded plates of treats. What Is God to Carson? “I think God is a kind being, because he created everyone.” And where does he see God? “I see God in my heart.”

Everley: Aspiring Thespian Co-Writes Christmas Play

November, 2019

Everley has been at Riverside since she was a baby. Her earliest memory is being baptized at church. She’s not sure how much of that memory comes from the photos or the actual event, but there’s something about the water on her forehead and being held up by her mom, Pastor Vicky, that resonates with her.

These days, you can often find Everley with her friends, and she brings many of them to church with her. When she was younger, she admits her favorite thing was to play tag after the service in the sanctuary. As a young teen, now she likes activities like meditating with the Middlers in that space as a spiritual activity.

You might also know that Everley likes peaches! There was many a Sunday when she sat on the altar steps and routinely offered thanks for peaches during Children’s Time. But her tastes have changed, and even though that special fruit will always bring Everley to mind for many of us, she would say her tastes have expanded.

As an 8th grader, Everley also is taking the Our Whole Lives class, and says she would recommend it to any kid. “Even the adults should try it,” she says. Overall she feels OWL is, “really informative and makes you feel more comfortable with yourself and that topic in general.”

You probably also know that Everley is the pastor’s younger daughter. Her older sister, Charley, is now away at college. Everley misses her a lot, but is such a social young lady that her days are full. She likes language arts the best in school, and is known to be quite a writer.

In fact, since about 4th grade, Everley has written, directed and produced a Christmas play featuring many of her friends. She staged one last year downstairs in the Fireside room and invited parents and friends to watch. The plays included songs and dance numbers, as Everley is also a dancer and is currently enjoying hip-hop.

This year, Everley asked Youth Pastor Elaine Thompson if they could do-write the Christmas play, and suggested a show themed around the Wizard of Oz. This picture of Everley was taken while she and Elaine met at Dog River to flesh out ideas, and the mug seemed to fit her approach to life perfectly. Everley has a knack of knowing how to do more of what makes her happy, and we look forward to seeing her creative talents this Christmas at church.

Lily: Drawing, Listening for God’s Voice

December 2019

If you haven’t noticed a budding young artist in our midst who loves to perform, let us introduce you to Lily. Lily is just 6 years old, but took the podium with her mother, Melissa, in November, to help read a kid’s poem. As a kindergartner she is just learning to read, so Lily took the time to memorize her lines, and recited them into the microphone without missing a word, all the while maintaining eye contact with the crowd.

Needless to say, she is already looking forward to being in the Christmas play on Dec. 15, saying she loves “when you get to wear your costumes.”

We caught up with her after church, when she was waiting patiently in the pews for her parents to finish up at coffee hour. What was she doing? Lily had drawn three different pictures for her maternal grandmother, all of which said, “I love you.” She claims to like drawing “ice cream, flowers, hearts, and chocolate chip cookies,” because “they look cute if I add eyes.”

Lily and her family, which consists of older brother Carson, younger brother Isaac, parents Melissa and Kevin, came to Camp Adams this year, but had to leave before the variety show on Saturday due to illness. Lily was heartbroken but recorded her ballet dance on an i-Phone for the show. The crowd watched it and sent back a video of them applauding.

Lily loves to dance and takes ballet and tap. Besides expressing herself through art and dance, Lily has no trouble sharing her thoughts about God. She says that God “helps me a lot when I need help. He tells me what to do … it goes through my body and into my brain.” Lily says that “God lives in my heart,” and that is where she hears God speaking to her.

Amen to those sage thoughts from a 6 year old!

Ruby: Easy-Going Ruby Contemplates Health Care

January 2020

Ruby has come to church since she was a little girl. You might remember she always wore a dress. Now, she still dresses up for church, “to look presentable,” but is no longer a little girl. Ruby, at 15 and a freshman at HRVHS, is learning to drive. She “likes her independence and being able to go anywhere,” even though she is still in the permit phase, and needs a parent to come along.

Ruby is well traveled, and remembers some of her favorite destinations as Bermuda for Thanksgiving and Vermont every summer to visit relatives. She is also well-balanced, and can list just as many indoor activities she enjoys as outdoor pursuits. You can find her doing anything from reading a romance or mystery book, enjoying her two cats, to playing with friends, jumping on the trampoline, swimming, snow or water skiing.

She also will tell you, when asked about her faith, “I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus.” She likes the ways the church has taught her, but more than anything she “lives her life by experiences.”

And the experience of growing up with both parents in the healthcare field has got her thinking about a related occupation. Right now, she wants to be either a pediatrician or a nurse midwife.

Ruby likes our church because she finds it to be very open, and “no one is afraid to speak” about themselves or their preferences. “like LGBTQ we accept it,” she says and is old enough to know that not all churches accept everyone regardless of gender or race.

Ruby is admittedly a very quiet person. However, she takes time to be with the youth group, and has participated in numerous service activities, like the recent afternoon making Christmas cookies for the shelter guests.

What would she like people to know about her, even though she is quiet? Her answer: “I’m a very easy-going person.” Quite a statement for a teenager these days!

Annabella: Lighting up the Sanctuary with her Smile

February 2020

It’s often said that the kind of person you are on the inside ends up showing on the outside.

That sentiment certainly shows in the beautiful demeanor of 7th grader Annabella.

Annabella will readily tell you that she has a mantra of positive thinking. It started for her on the lacrosse field, when she worried about being able to catch a ball. She realized that when she worried about the catch, she’d miss the catch. But when she turned that thinking around, and started telling herself, “I can do this, I can do this,” she’d land the catch way more often than not.

From there, she has taken this positive mantra into many parts of her life from giving a speech in front of her class at school or when she’s about to go on stage in a show. You might remember she was Glinda in our Christmas play, and had all her lines memorized.

Annabella comes from a family of four kids and she’s the only girl. She has an older brother, Bodei, and two younger brothers, Rocco and Nils. She admits it can be annoying at times, but because she is the only girl, she gets her own room and sometimes special privileges.

But her family life has given her reason to think about her future and her gifts. Because her brother Rocco has had speech difficulties, she has a desire to help other children with speech issues when she grows up. If you ever see her with her brother, you can see the love and empathy she has for him. On the steps during Children’s Time, there has been many a Sunday she gently put her arm around him and spoke for him when he wasn’t able to, or was too shy. Rocco has made a lot of progress recently, and having such a caring sister certainly makes a difference.

Annabella is the kind of person who is eager to make a difference not only in her family, but in her world. When Ann Harris from the Justice and Witness committee spoke to the Middlers, Annabella quickly embraced the idea of doing something to help educate about climate change. She likes art and readily used her skills to help paint a sign, saying, “I’m worried about the future and how climate change will affect my life.”

She tries to make a difference in little things herself, by walking when she can and acknowledging, “It would be better if everyone could drive electric and eat less meat.”

Church is a place where she enjoys not only friendships with other kids, but much more than that. Annabella says, “I like hearing from all ages of people.” She is still exploring what spirituality means to her, but loves putting her faith in action. She’s been to Fish food bank numerous times, participated in the buddy bowl last year, and gave up two weekends in a row last fall to do service work in Portland.

Now, she’s looking forward to another service event of selling reusable produce bags that were handmade and donated to the youth by Anna Diem. When we were thinking about where to use the donations, Annabella lit up with a wide smile when she heard of a tree-planting event. “Yes, I want to plant trees! When can we plant trees?”

And when that beautiful smile lights up her face, you can see the beautiful inside where that enthusiasm comes from.

Paloma: Loving the God of Tiny, Good Places

March, 2020

If you missed seeing the Christmas play this past year, you missed a very special performance from Paloma, age 13, who attends Riverside. Paloma took on the daunting role of Dorothy in our mash-up play about Rainbowland and the birth of love through Christ.

She knew from the beginning that the role involved singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and worked with Tim Mayer to perfect the song and her delivery. It’s the rare teen who will eagerly take on a long and difficult solo in front of the entire congregation – but Paloma pulled it off.

Acting, writing, directing: Paloma feels these theatrical skills are her talents, and she finds many ways to explore the craft whether it be in school productions, community shows or even as a working talent on the west coast. Paloma has an agent who represents her for commercial work and has been in a couple independent films.

She loves that acting “… gives you a chance to be other people,” and believes what actor Johnny Depp says that, “A part of yourself has to be the role otherwise it’s not acting, its lying.”

Paloma comes from a loving and expanding family, who welcomed baby Benny into their lives about 8 months ago. There is also brother Julian, age 3 and sister Georgiana who is 10. The family recently took a year off and traveled all over the United States, where Paloma discovered San Diego was her favorite place, along with Zion National Park and Washington, D.C.

The family decided to move to Hood River from Portland when they returned and so she is new to our area. Paloma really likes the community of church and says “I really love what this church believes in, like that kindness is really high.” She adds, “I love how Pastor Vicky changes up the gender of God,” and “I believe God is the universe, God is like all the tiny good places. God is everything.”

Paloma, even though she admits it is incredibly hard to be self-disciplined, is home schooled, and at her age, that means really taking on her own education. She enjoys spending time on the subjects she loves, which are English and writing. Those are important to her, because she believes there is “power in words.”

And if you look at Paloma’s home screen, you will see a picture she took of an eagle in flight along with these powerful words, “I am grounded, centered and present.” She’s a creative spirit, who just like the eagle, is sure to soar.

Beth: Artists Hands All Along

April 2020

When this is all over and we are passing the peace again on a Sunday, grasp Beth Hartwell by the hands, and take a good look at them. These are her treasured possessions, trained to manage business at the highest level, drive a fork lift, sew, make art, turn a page of music and cook food that begins close to the earth.

“I had good grandmas who taught me how to put my hands to work at a young age. They put knitting in our hands, spoons in our hands, a garden trowel in our hands.”

Beth grew up in San Diego in a big extended family. Her grandfathers were entrepreneurs, one venturing into potato chips before they were a thing. Her father was the consummate salesman, as San Diego was exploding.

She came to Oregon to go to OSU, where she majored in business and behavioral science, tutoring others for beer money. When her first job after graduation brought her back to California to work for Proctor and Gamble, she brought a creative spirit to sales and marketing. She was focused on getting to know what her customers wanted, while her P&G co-workers were intent on selling customers an end-of-aisle mouthwash display, whether they needed it or not.

“I didn’t last very long,” in that culture, she said, especially when her college boyfriend, Tom, was pleading with her to move to Longview, WA, where he was working for Weyerhauser. She was convinced she’d never work for that company, but five months later she was a management trainee, and then, foreman at a paper mill. She had no idea how the plant operated or what her crew did, and was certain she’d been set up to fail in this “men only” environment. But shortly after she arrived, the plant went on strike for five months. She worked 12-hour shifts, doing the work of five people, driving a forklift and loading trains. When the workers returned, her trial by fire behind her, “Nobody could pull the wool over my eyes.”

But after marriage to Tom, and two-plus years at Weyerhauser where upward mobility was just not in the cards (“My boss told me it took him 25 years to get his promotion. I wanted more, for sure.”) they heard about a ship in Seattle – a wooden WWII sub-chaser named The Phoenix – that was going to dive for sunken treasure. The crew needed a cook, and Tom’s mechanical skills, so they stored all their stuff and rented out their house.

For six months, they remodeled the boat, living on board, Beth cooking for a crew of 16, three meals a day, mostly from an odd assortment of items left in the pantry. “A #10 can of bean sprouts? Really? Finally, I was down to a five-pound block of Velveeta, and I tried to make Welsh Rarebit. It was so awful the crew was feeding it to the ducks, and the ducks were sinking.”

It was clear the boat was never going to leave the dock. Some of their fellow shipmates got jobs in a nearby mini-market, and Tom figured out there was money to be made in just such an enterprise. Soon, they were the owners of a beat-down market near Green Lake called Young Pine. Beth started cooking, filling a dairy case and a front counter with baked goods and prepared food. They were on the very leading edge of a new food revolution in the Pacific Northwest, with companies like Nancy’s Yogurt, Bob’s Red Mill and Kettle Chips just starting out, and soon they were rubbing shoulders with this new class of food entrepreneur.

It was the beginning of the microbrew explosion, too. In two years, they sold the market and moved back to Kalama, starting the iconic Pyramid Brewing Co. Tom made the beer; Beth made the money. She was just 30.

“There was a ton of creativity: signage, marketing, cooking, naming, branding … those were the things that sustained me through the long hours and hours on the road.” Her first child, Sterling, was born the month they took the lease out on the brewery building. Six years later, with second son Vance on the way, they sold the brewery and moved to a farm.

It was here that Beth began to explore Christianity.

“I’d grown up completely unchurched.” She started attending the Battle Ground Episcopal Church, and something awakened.

When the children were four and ten years old, Tom and Beth separated. She stayed near the farm for six years, caring for the boys on alternate weeks. She did whatever she could to work and still parent: catering, painting. Finally, when Vance started school, she took a job with a digital voice recording company in Bend, OR, and then moved to an exciting Bend start-up that was building a new kind of network based on GPS.

“It was the best job ever.” But the new start-up was short on cash, and soon, Beth was out of a job. Then 9/11 happened.

“I had a lot of interviews, but no one was hiring. That’s when I found a little take-out place to buy: sack lunches, breakfast to go, a one-girl shop, called ‘The Regular.’ I started connecting over the counter with my customers I saw every day. It was like Lucy’s five-cent advice.”

She started attending Trinity Episcopal in Bend, a large church where her skills took her into the kitchen to work out Family Kitchen, their plated meal program. “It was life changing in so many ways: connecting with community and the challenges of the homeless.” Beth said she always had a heart for volunteering but this was different. Between the church and her business, “My heart just burst open. Others are not just like me! Once that veil is pulled back, there is no going back.”

After six years, driving back and forth weekends to Battle Ground to see her boys, she decided she just needed to be closer. She sold The Regular and moved to Hood River to take a management job with Gorge Net. There, she met Kim Alan Miers, her husband now of eight years. “Yin to my yang,” she says.

Beth went to St. Marks, but the transition from Trinity was difficult. As the congregation’s Gorge Ecumenical Ministry representative, she met Pastor Vicky and John Boonstra, and connected to FISH food bank, the warming shelter and other believers in progressive congregations.

“I laugh, sometimes it’s just God’s humor. I had never heard Vicky preach, only gone to her for advice. And then Kim and I went to Riverside, and I got home and just laughed my head off. This is what I’ve been missing, and it was here all along!”

It was at Riverside that Beth realized her hands have been artists hands all along, too.

“I’ve always thought of myself as analytical with organizational skills, a distance view of time and motion. It always felt very left-brain to me. But then I did an exercise with a deck of cards called Calling Cards and discovered that every card in my hand is a creative card! Oh, I realized: all this dreaming and planning, these processes are creative! Who I was as an artist was who I had always been.”

Then Karen Harding asked her to make a piece of art for the sanctuary.

“I thought, ‘If Karen thinks I can, I can.’” Because she’d been unable to draw a horse in third grade, she was told she couldn’t be an artist. What she has learned, however, is that “art is for every single one of us if we get our heads out of the way.” That first project was a robe of healing, made of fabric, filled with lichen, that hung on the wall in the Riverside sanctuary.

She started singing with the Threshold Singers several years ago, too. “I hadn’t sung since I was 12. It was a plunge into our cultural world, and I realize how uptight we are, how many of us say we can’t sing, even though everyone else in the world sings.” She also serves on the Riverside Kitchen Team, applying her artist’s hands to food.

Today, most of her art is textiles. “Playing with color to me is like a toy box.” Her room in her home with Kim is filled with organized stacks of fabric: wool, silk, batik, often old garments that she is up-cycling.

“Sustainability has been my companion for years. There were many years I lived with very little. I hate making waste. More and more, that’s what calls me forward. I feel so strongly in these last three weeks that our focus can change, instead of buying new, to focus on reducing and reusing. Any time I am without, I love being challenged, that’s when the greatest creativity comes forward.”

Into hands that have always been artists hands, whether they knew it or not.

Maurine: Gratefulness Eases Pain of Isolation

May 2020

She might grow up to be a doctor or a model. She loves hot dogs and misses eating Banku. She loves learning Spanish, but her original language was a Liberian English dialect. She has lived in big cities like Chicago and now lives in the small town of Cascade Locks. At 15, Maurine is a girl worth getting to know, not just for her diversity of experience, but for the spiritual side that has grown and nourished her through those transitions.

Maurine is admittedly shy, but she loves being around friends, and has had plenty of experience making them. She grew up in Ghana, but her dad came to the United States and she followed at age ten. She first lived in The Dalles for a year, then went to the Midwest, bounced back to Hood River, and now lives in Cascade Locks. She and her siblings and step-mother followed her dad and his work in the medical field. Finding friends along the way continues to be difficult, but with her love of track and sports, she connects through team activities.

Covid-19 has changed her ability to be with those friends, but for her 15th birthday on April 1, Maurine got her first cell phone. So she is enjoying some virtual connections, and joins the RCC youth on their bi-weekly Zoom meetings when she’s not studying. Online school is not her favorite, but her advanced AP classes are good, and she says, “I don’t like being bored, and I liked to be challenged.”

Maurine is also juggling being at home with four younger siblings who range from Maxine, who turns 8 on May 5, Muna, age 6, Mika, age 4 and baby Meerah, just a year old. She likes being a big sister for the fun times of playing together and talking to the younger girls, but at the same time, as a teenager, needs a little space, which they don’t always understand. But she says “you can always write in a journal” or take a walk or ride a bike to cope with the shelter-in-place restrictions that keep her family in tight quarters at home.

Besides those coping strategies, Maurine credits prayer with keeping her going during this time. She says the biggest influencers on her growing spirituality and prayer life have been her stepmom, Rachel, and dad, Maurice. She says they pray at dinner and at night before bed, and Maurine feels the purpose of prayer for her is “when you are feeling down on yourself, you can pray and it helps.” She also advises praying “when other people have something you don’t – you can pray about it and get some peace.”

But right now, Maurine is struck by how much her family does have compared to others. She doesn’t like watching the news for that very reason, and says she feels “really sad about people” and the situations of homelessness and hunger exacerbated by the pandemic. Watching the news, “make me cry,” so she avoids the headlines. Instead, she says what is helping is another spiritual tool she was taught by Rachel and her dad, which is, “to be grateful.”

And no matter where life takes her from here, Maurine will try to keep focusing on that attitude of gratitude.

Elaine: Beauty Queen Inside and Out

Elaine was born in Bound Brook, New Jersey and attended the University of Vermont where she majored in Home Economics. While in college, she met Scott, her future husband, and they were married a year after Elaine graduated. The wedding would have happened earlier except Elaine had won the Miss Vermont competition and was busy with her responsibilities associated with that title. She was thrilled to represent Vermont at the 1963 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, hosted by Bert Parks. [We know a celebrity!]

Elaine and Scott moved to Oregon where Scott took a position with the Oregon Extension Office in Salem, filling in a one-year sabbatical. During that year in Salem, Elaine enrolled at OSU and secured a Master of Science degree in Home Economics, specializing in Textiles & Clothing/Sociology. From Salem, Scott and Elaine moved to Woodburn, Oregon, for a job opportunity for Scott with the Birdseye Division of General Foods. There they bought their first home.

Both Erik and Kent, the Johnsons’ two sons, were born in Oregon, Erik in 1966 and Kent in 1968. In 1969, the family moved to Modesto, California, where Scott had been transferred by General Foods. Elaine became a Home Economics instructor at Modesto Junior College, where she enjoyed a 20-year career. During their time in Modesto, they traveled a lot, both nationally and internationally.

They were able to retire while still in their 50s, and during the 1990s they traveled to Hood River for several vacations, drawn by the excellent conditions for windsurfing. At one point, they vacationed for an entire summer in Hood River and, by the end of that vacation, Elaine wondered why they didn’t simply move here. Scott agreed and, in late June of 2001, they moved into their new home and proceeded with some major renovations. They scrambled and were able to host Erik’s wedding in that home in August. Thus began a new life in Hood River where they enjoyed not only windsurfing, but also water skiing, fishing, and snow skiing. Although Scott and Elaine did not take up snow skiing until midlife, Elaine still enjoys cruising down the trails at Mt. Hood.

She lost Scott in 2014, but during their previous years in Hood River, she and Scott hosted six exchange students through the Lions Club Student Exchange Program. The young women, each of whom traveled to the U.S. for six weeks during the summer, came from Denmark, Italy, Austria, and Yugoslavia.

Elaine remains an active member of the Hood River Lions Club where she and Scott both served as officers and in various board positions over the years. In addition, she serves on the board of the Hood River History Museum and has been a staunch supporter of the various arts programs in Hood River.

At Riverside Church, Scott and Elaine were an active team when it came to decorating for any of the church’s fundraisers, especially the annual Spring Fling. Since Scott’s passing, Elaine has remained an active member of the leadership team that creates and presents the Spring Fling. She has served on the Diaconate and on the church Council, has volunteered as a Sunday School leader, participated in the programs at Camp Adams each fall, and was (with Scott) a key supporter of the Fresh Start Culinary Arts Program that resulted in the upgraded commercial kitchen at Riverside.

Elaine was raised a Presbyterian, and while they were in California, the Johnsons attended a Presbyterian church fairly regularly. When she and Scott moved to Hood River, they began church shopping, with Riverside Church being their first stop in the process. They never left. Susan Princehouse was pastor at the time, Vicky Stifter followed Susan, and the Johnsons loved our worship services. Today, what Elaine likes best about Riverside is the community involvement, the social justice focus, and the concern for the welfare of wildlife and the environment.L