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Happy birthday

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: NICK FOCHTMAN - Mel Renfro, honored in 2012 as a Portland hero.Dec. 30, 1941

Mel Renfro

(age 72)

One of the greatest athletes from Portland on anybody's list, Renfro is best known for his NFL days with the Dallas Cowboys.

He was born in Houston, but his family moved to Portland, where he attended Jefferson High and starred in football and track and field. The Democrats were a combined 23-0 in football his sophomore and junior years (1957 and 1958), and many regard the ;58 team as the best in Oregon history. It included quarterback Terry Baker and halfbacks Raye Renfro and Mickey Hergert.

In 1959, a year after Baker's graduation, Jefferson lost 7-6 to Medford in the state championship game.

Renfro stood out in the low and high hurdles and broad jump, breaking several records.

He went on to star at the University of Oregon in both sports, as well, earning All-American football honors on offense while also playing defense for the Ducks.

In 1992, he was inducted into the UO Athletic Hall of Fame.

Renfro joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

The Cowboys drafted him in the second round of the 1964 NFL draft, and he became an All-Pro safety for coach Tom Landry, then at cornerback. He was a Pro Bowl player in each of his first 10 seasons, including five years as All-Pro and defensive MVP of the 1971 Pro Bowl.

In 14 seasons, he intercepted 52 passes, returning them for 626 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned punts and kickoffs.

Renfro played in four Super Bowls, was made a member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1981 and was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.