New award established in House District 52 to honor people like Dick McQueen

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: SANNYE PHILLIPS - Pictured immediately after the first presentation of the Dick McQueen Award are, from left, Susan Drew, co-district leader of the Oregon Democrats in Clackamas County House District 52; McQueen holding the award; Stephanie Nystrom, district leader of Oregon Democrats in Multnomah County HD-52; and Dennis Ghelfi, co-district leader of Oregon Democrats in Clackamas County HD-52.To be honored by generations to come for a lifetime of accomplishments must feel incredible, but to be honored publicly before life’s end and to know that recognition is destined to continue beyond your life must be the ultimate gift.

Dick McQueen’s eyes beam with pride when he speaks of the gift he recently received.

Oregon House District 52 — which includes parts of Multnomah, Clackamas and Hood River counties — has just initiated the perennial Dick McQueen Award.

No one is happier about this turn of events than Dick McQueen, who now knows that his name will not die with him.

The award’s purpose is to honor people who exhibit goals, attitudes and actions similar to the high-bar example set by Dick McQueen.

The event where this award was first noticed publicly was the presentation to its first honored recipient at a monthly meeting of the Oregon Trail Democrats.

New award

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Dick McQueen relaxes on the outdoor patio of his home in Gresham. After setting an example for people who would choose an altruistic lifestyle, McQueen was honored recently with the first recognition in a series planned as annual volunteer awards, bearing McQueens name. The award is sponsored by the Oregon Democrats of House District 52, which includes parts of three counties.Who better for the leaders of HD-52 to select for the first Dick McQueen Award than Dick McQueen?

McQueen considered that a double honor, and the day of the award’s presentation he was shocked and amazed at the generosity of the people he had been working with for many years.

Stephanie Nystrom, second vice chairwoman of the Multnomah County Democrats, says McQueen has set an example hard to duplicate.

“He works harder than anyone else I have ever seen,” Nystrom said, “to elect people who will put the good of the community above their own personal ambition throughout the three counties of House District 52 — and that's a lot of miles.”

McQueen doesn’t think he is very different from other people because he was most active in a charitable way after he retired.

“I’ve just had the good fortune,” he said, “to have very good health after my retirement, and I’ve been able to (be active).”

One of McQueen’s areas of focus has been achieving medical care for all of the children residing in Oregon. The program is called Healthy Kids, and McQueen has been relentless before the vote in Salem promoting the program one-on-one with each legislator.

“We’re trying to find ways to get (parents’) attention, to get their cooperation,” he said, “so their children can have medical care.

“We need to think about (children’s) long-term interests; their health as children is absolutely fundamental; and it’s important also to their productivity later as adults.”

Jan Smith of Sandy has been among the most amazed at the energy and passion that McQueen has shown while advocating for the needs of people he might never meet.

“He has made sure those brochures (about the Healthy Kids program) were everywhere,” Smith said. “He drove to Eastern Oregon and to the Coast to deliver the brochures. He wanted kids everywhere to have the opportunity to have health care. That’s tremendous.”

McQueen, however, is frustrated at what he interprets as the current generation’s focus on self-interests, materialism and entertainment “that have taken such a toll on how we care about others.”

Passionate believer

People with whom McQueen has worked, especially those in HD-52, are familiar with his passion to provide for the needs of others and to assist in the campaigns of aspiring candidates who he believes have taken to heart the interests of everyone.

He could easily have been called the “sign man” because of the amount of time and effort he has devoted to placing campaign signs around the metro area and statewide.

“Dick helped put up campaign signs for everyone,” Smith said. “He even helped an ardent Republican fix and put up some signs with a candidate who was having some trouble. That’s just doing the right thing. Sometimes things are across the aisle because they are the right thing.”

Cathy Fantz of Eagle Creek, who assisted McQueen in his work to get Healthy Kids approved, is among those most amazed at the amount of energy McQueen has given to the causes of people all over the state, not just for Democrats in HD-52.

“He is passionate about his beliefs,” Fantz said, “and then he acts upon them. His advocacy for others stands out, and the fact that he embraces causes that don’t directly benefit him. He really has a philosophical overview of the way our society should be taking care of others.”

Smith admits she has used his example for years as a guide for her life.

“Dick has had drive and energy I wish I had,” she said. “He’s had integrity above all. I have always said, the whole time I have known him, that I wanted to grow up to be like him.”

Activist for all

Fantz said she was speechless when she observed how focused he was in his efforts for others.

“(McQueen) advocated for Healthy Kids at the state level,” Fantz said. “When it came time for a vote to continue funding, he (promoted it). He would go to the most unlikely places just to tell low-income people about this program so their kids could get health care. The amount of hours he put into that is just unimaginable.”

But McQueen isn’t a one-cause person, Fantz said.

“He’s that way for any cause,” she said. “He just gives 110 percent.”

Suzanne VanOrman of Hood River, former representative in HD-52 who has devoted many years to children and families, says McQueen never had to be asked to help Democrats in HD-52.

“He’s a remarkable man,” VanOrman said. “He worked tirelessly for hours. When I was in the Legislature, he was strongly advocating for the Healthy Kids initiative. He was in Salem almost every day. No one worked harder than Dick McQueen for health care for kids. We all owe him a debt of gratitude.”

VanOrman also appreciates his prowess at lawn signs. She said his efforts with her campaign got signs placed where she was not as well known.

“He talks to people about what he believes,” she said, “and Hood River knows him very well. He doesn’t just work (in his hometown).”

Nystrom says he works like a man with a mission whenever he finds a way of helping something he believes is important.

“He works with elected officials of all parties to enact legislation and policies that help our young people,” Nystrom said, “like the recent passage of the Tuition Equity bill (HB 2787).”

While everyone has something good to say to show their respect and amazement at what McQueen is responsible for, it was Nystrom who spoke the words that shows the widespread deep respect for McQueen by everyone who has worked with him or heard about his work.

“Dick embodies every day all that we fellow citizen activists hope to achieve in a lifetime of work,” Nystrom said. “Choosing the second recipient of the Dick McQueen award will be much harder because Dick has set the bar so high.”

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