The Oregon Road Runners Club is dedicating their annual Y2K Run to missing Cornelius resident and former Hillsboro schools administrator Ralph Brown, who has been missing since May.
The half-marathon and 10K event, which Brown himself started 35 years ago as the "8.6 in '86," will kick off Forest Grove's year-long sesquicentennial celebrations. It will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, and will start and finish at Tom McCall Upper Elementary School, located at 1341 Pacific Ave. in Forest Grove.
Brown, an avid runner, is a former mayor of Cornelius. During his decades-long career in northwest Oregon, he was an educator, school administrator, city councilor, and school board member, not to mention a devoted husband, father and grandfather.
"Running and putting on races was part of his (Ralph's) DNA, and he loved to be around runners and was a runner himself," said Brown's wife, Carol. "I feel like if I turn around I might see him there at the race, exactly where he loved to be. He enjoyed meeting new people and visiting with long-time friends. It's part of who he was."
Ralph Brown, 76, has been missing since he left his home the evening of May 16, 2021. He suffers from dementia and reportedly told his wife he was "going home" (he grew up in Astoria) when he got in his navy blue 2014 Nissan Sentra and drove away from their residence in Cornelius.
According to law enforcement, Ralph Brown's cellphone pinged in the Newberg area hours after his disappearance. There were also unconfirmed sightings elsewhere around the region, but no lead or tip has panned out.
But while his whereabouts remain a mystery, his legacy in and around Cornelius is firmly intact.
"If you looked up public servant in the dictionary, Ralph's name would be in capital letters," said Steve Drake, former Hillsboro High School athletic director. "He's done about everything and he's had an impact on it all. He's always given back."
Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax spoke specifically to Brown's commitment to the Forest Grove and Cornelius communities, describing him as the epitome of a "giver."
"Ralph has always been a key part of these kind of community activities for about as long as I can remember," Truax said. "It is his picture that is next to the dictionary definition of 'community service.'"
Since May, community members have arranged search parties, printed and distributed flyers, and created web and social media pages in an effort to gather information and spread the word about Brown's disappearance.
"Ralph's Run" will offer two races, either a 10K run/walk for $55 or the half marathon event for $70. All participants will receive a medal, and a long-sleeve quarter zip shirt is available for and additional $20.
Part of the proceeds from the event will go toward the ongoing search for Ralph Brown.
To register for the event, visit the Oregon Road Runners Club website at orrc.net.
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