Awards pay tribute to volunteers who often work behind the scenes to make LO a better place to live

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - With members of the City Council behind them, Lake Oswego's Unsung Heroes for 2015 receive their awards (from left): William DeBuhr, Stephanie Wagner, Bob Liddell, Mark Hoyt and Art Henderson.They’ve dedicated their lives to protecting natural areas and spreading the gospel of environmental education. One man has been a champion of the city’s public art program, while another has mentored 42 Eagle Scouts — including his own son — through his work with the Boy Scouts of America. And two have seemingly volunteered everywhere, from the Adult Community Center and Public Library to church, school and neighborhood groups.

All have worked quietly behind the scenes on behalf of the community, without any expectation of recognition or reward. But on Tuesday, they got both when the Lake Oswego City Council presented its 2015 Unsung Hero awards.

“These are the people who put their hand up, step forward and get things done,” Mayor Kent Studebaker said. “To these people, their contributions are second nature,” but their impact on the city is immeasurable.

The goal of the Unsung Hero awards is to recognize individuals who have volunteered during the past year or over an extended period of time but who are not generally well known by the public for the good deeds they do.

Past winners have included a mother who worked to bring a language immersion program to Lake Oswego elementary schools, three people who arrived early on Saturday mornings for five years to help Farmers Market vendors unload their goods, and a volunteer who created fitness programs for special-needs children.

The heroes for 2015 are just as impressive:

• Stephanie Wagner, a 30-year volunteer with Friends of Tryon Creek, who still serves on the organization’s board, teaches environmental education courses at Portland State University and serves on both the Oswego Lake Watershed Council and the Natural Resources Advisory Board.

• Mark Hoyt, who has dedicated more than 16 years to the enrichment and development of local Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs, ever since his young son asked him if he could join a pack. “Of course you can,” Hoyt answered, “and I will even go with you.”

• William DeBuhr, whose 35-year volunteer career has included roles as a scoutmaster, homeowners association president, school committee member, Community Emergency Response Team leader and much more.

• Bob Liddell, a longtime volunteer for the Arts Council of Lake Oswego who is a champion of the Gallery Without Walls and serves as chairman of the city’s Public Art Committee.

• Art Henderson, who plays key roles at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, the Lake Oswego Public Library, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Parish and Meals on Wheels.

Stephanie Wagner

WAGNERWagner has been called “the lady with the green heart” by colleague Mike Buck for her dedication to protecting and preserving Tryon Creek State Natural Area.

While volunteering with Friends of Tryon Creek, Wagner developed “Kids in Nature,” a program designed to help parents of preschoolers engage their children in the wonders of nature. She developed a field trip program for schools that draws 5,000 students a year to the park, and forged a partnership with Portland State University in which Capstone students help with program development and implementation.

Wagner still serves on the Friends board and still teaches environmental education classes and workshops at PSU. In addition, she is a founding member and current chairwoman of the Oswego Lake Watershed Council and a longtime member of the Natural Resources Advisory Board.

“I believe the City of Lake Oswego has been one of her ‘children,’” said Buck, who was honored as an Unsung Hero last year for his work with Friends of Iron Mountain. “We (owe) this ‘volunteer mom’ a big debt of thanks.”

Mark Hoyt

HOYTLittle did Hoyt know that a simple request from his son to join the Cub Scouts 16 years ago would lead to a dedication to providing a positive male role model for hundreds of boys.

Hoyt has served as cubmaster for Pack 403 and scoutmaster for Troop 127, where he guided his son Robert and 41 others to the rank of Eagle Scout and then wrote letters of recommendation for many of their college entrance and scholarship applications. He has instilled in his Scouts a sense of commitment to the community, guiding their volunteer efforts with local churches, the Oswego Pioneer Cemetery, programs for fallen firefighters and police officers, the local Pet Parade, and as the color guard for many city events.

“Mark Hoyt is a special kind of individual,” said Diane Grover, who nominated him for the Unsung Hero honor. “His contributions will continue to positively impact Lake Oswego for years and generations to come.”

William DeBuhr

DEBUHRDeBuhr has also had a profound impact on the people of Lake Oswego. Among his many roles in the community: scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 146; president of the Bryant Woods Homeowners Association; member of the city’s Community Emergency Response Team and its Amateur Radio Emergency Services group; search and rescue command officer for Mountain Wave Emergency Communications; and volunteer on a variety of local school committees.

He’s working now to plan and execute Bryant Woods’ neighborhood earthquake preparedness plan.

“You might see Bill in his red Jeep, winching out a stuck driver. Or delivering Christmas presents for Toy & Joy Makers with other members of Jolly Jeepers,” said Julie DeBuhr, who nominated him. “Within his own neighborhood, Bill can be found helping a neighbor’s nanny deal with a really scary spider, leading the annual Fourth of July parade, giving advice on car troubles or advocating for those around him.”

Bob Liddell

LIDDELLLiddell was nominated for his Unsung Hero award by Carol Winston, Nancy Nye, Sheri Richards, John LaMotte and Curtis Schabe — all of whom mentioned his work not only as a passionate advocate for the arts but also on a host of Rotary Club projects that have benefitted the community.

“Bob is always the first one to volunteer to lend a hand,” said Winston, the current president of the Arts Council of Lake Oswego and a past president of the Lake Oswego Rotary Club. “His assistance in the installation of the Gallery Without Walls is nothing more than Herculean.”

Liddell is currently chairman of the Public Art Committee, which cares and maintains the city’s permanent art collection. He is the Arts Council’s installation crew leader, helping to install and remove as many as 30 sculptures a year. And as a Rotarian, he has done everything from designing floats and cooking lobsters to coordinating the group’s annual Holiday Food & Toy Drive for neighbors in need.

“Bob’s positive outlook and can-do manner make him a pleasure to work with,” Richards said. “I cannot think of a better Unsung Hero than Bob Liddell.”

Art Henderson

HENDERSONHenderson earns similar praise from Kay Kerr, a member of the Learning and Technology Group that Henderson leads at the Adult Community Center. He is the group facilitator for the ACC’s Computer Learning Center, where he organizes meetings and arranges for special presentations and guest speakers.

Henderson also directs meetings for the ACC’s monthly investment group and drives the center’s van for special trips. He is on the board of the local Meals on Wheels program, organizes meetings of a genealogy group at the Lake Oswego Public Library and takes Communion to residents of assisted living facilities once a month as an active member of the congregation at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church.

“Thank you for this opportunity,” Kerr said, “to reward him for jobs well done.”

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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