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Southwest Portland high school churns out notables and not all are steeped in privilege.

COURTESY PHOTO: OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY - David Griggs soared high as a Cardinal and became an astronaut.

Many notable Portlanders went to Lincoln High School, but some names leap off the page:

Mark Rothko, abstract painter; Chris DeWolfe, co-founder of Myspace; Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny; Matt Groening, the twisted mind behind "The Simpsons" cartoon; Elliott Smith, indie singer-songwriter; Stanley David Griggs, space shuttle astronaut; and legendary 92-year-old drag queen Walter Cole, doing business as Darcelle.

Others, like golfer Peter Jacobsen and former Seahawks football player Ronald Allan East, have a certain name recognition, although their accomplishments are harder to recall for a nonspecialist.

And others, like Ted Wheeler, the current Portland mayor, and Therese Bottomly, the editor of The Oregonian/OregonLive, are still at the peak of their powers in Portland.

Something about the high school, whose area includes the tony West Hills and gritty downtown, turns out more than its fair share of notable citizens.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Drawing of Bart Simpson in the sidewalk on Southwest 18th Ave near Lincoln High School where Matt Groening attended

Fame becomes honor

There are two lists of those alumni, the Wikipedia one edited by the public, and the Lincoln High School Alumni Association Hall of Honor. The latter was known as the LHSAA Hall of Fame until 2020, when it was adapted to include less well-known but still worthy subjects.

For instance, in 2013 the initial list was mostly businessmen and politicians. More recently the LHSAA sought to include a more diverse group like Ruth Arbuckle, a legendary LHS student and then teacher.

In 2022 they realized the list was still mostly male, so the LHSAA added more women. These included Joy Lawrence ('94) who played soccer, basketball and softball, was a place kicker on the school football team, and the 1994 Rose Festival queen; Brenda Helser ('40) an Olympic swimmer; and Kendall Johnson ('09) a pro soccer player who had a spell with the Portland Thorns.

Other new notables include the late Bud Clark ('49), former Portland mayor and owner of the nearby Goose Hollow Tavern. Another is Aaron Director, the conservative economist who influenced both the law and economics schools at the University of Chicago. Jordan Schnitzer bought the naming rights for Director Park, next to the Fox Tower downtown, in honor of his maternal grandparents, Simon and Helen Director.

Aaron and his brother, Simon, were friends of another Jewish immigrant from Europe, Mark Rothko. One of the greatest abstract painters of the 20th century, Rothko ('17) attended Lincoln. (Rothko suffered from depression and committed suicide in his New York studio on Feb. 25, 1970, overdosing on barbiturates and slitting his wrist.)

Dana Cress ('64) is secretary/treasurer and archivist of the LHSAA. The fifth generation of her family is currently at Lincoln. She told Pamplin Media Group that an alum can nominate someone and then the board of six alums votes on who to induct into the Hall of Honor.

Robert Pamplin Jr. ('60), businessman, philanthropist, historical preservationist and owner of Pamplin Media Group, also makes the list. Cress said Pamplin generously has his company print and mail out the quarterly alumni magazine to active members.

Cress recently had a conversation with a man named Bill Martell ('47) living in California, an all-city athlete in football and baseball who went on to coach the U.S. Greco-Roman wrestling team. Martell was very emotional, saying he was in three other Halls of Honor but that the one from Lincoln meant the most to him. "It was the foundation from which I grew," Martell said.

"He grew up underprivileged, but he was athletic. Bill said he would have been in a Portland Italian street gang if his coaches at Lincoln hadn't told him he was in charge of his life and to stay on it and get good grades," Cress said.

Another graduate, Walter Cole, ('50) founded Darcelle XV Showplace — the oldest continuously running cabaret in the United States. Cole (he/him) also was moved by the honor of receiving a Hall of Honor certificate. Cress told him she was sorry she hadn't framed the award, but Cole said he'd already done it himself the minute he received it.

Another teacher who made the grade recently is David Bailey, who retired in 2019. "He taught here for 50 years. Mr. Bailey graduated from Cleveland High and came to Lincoln the day after he graduated from Portland State University. He taught U.S. history, social studies and government here his entire life. He coached championship cross country. Mr. Bailey is another Lincoln legend."

Cress added that singer Elliott Smith ('87) isn't yet on the list, although there is a bronze plaque for him in the hall, (which the students lobbied for). Although the former Heatmiser band member's solo album "Either/Or" is considered a masterpiece, he suffered from polysubstance addiction and depression and stabbed himself to death on Oct. 21, 2003.

Cress estimates a high percentage of the Hall of Honorees came from either well-off or well-educated families, but class is still not quite destiny at the school.

Actresses include Colleen Miller, who was in many westerns and co-starred with Tony Curtis in "The Rawhide Years", and rising screen actor Rebecca Schaeffer ('87). Schaeffer was in the movies "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills" and "The End of Innocence" and was shot dead on her doorstep by a stalker in 1989.

Other women recently added are all athletes: Brenda Helser ('40), USA Olympic Team women's 4×100-meter freestyle relay; Robin Marks ('80), track champion with five state titles plus one team state crown and first Black queen of both the Rose Festival and the Fiesta Bowl; Lauren Thies ('96), a U.S. national champion swimmer and Lake Oswego High School swim coach; and Christy Lacey-Krietz MacColl ('96), all-round athlete, 800 meter track state champ and realtor.

LHSAA Hall of Honor recipients

Douglas McKay (1910) Oregon governor

David McCord (1917) poet

Mark Rothko (1921) artist

Maureen Brown Neuberger ('25) LHS teacher and U.S. senator

Mel Blanc ('29) voice actor including Bugs Bunny

Richard Neuberger ('30) U.S. senator

Johnny Pesky ('39) Major League Baseball player

Brenda Hesler ('40) Olympic swimmer

Bill Martell ('48) wrestler

Bud Clark ('49) mayor and tavern owner

Walter Cole "Darcelle" ('50) oldest female impersonator in world

Ruth Arbuckle ('51) LHS teacher/mentor

Jim Grelle ('51) Olympic cross-country runner

David E. Jeremiah ('51) U.S. Navy admiral, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, member of the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council, commander/chief of the Pacific Fleet in WWII

David Griggs ('57) Navy pilot and NASA astronaut

Mickey Lolich ('58) Major league baseball player

Matt Groening ('72) artist, cartoonist, writer

Robin Marks ('80) track and basketball

David Bangsberg ('81) Dean OHSU-PSU school of public health

Todd Harris ('93) NBC sportscaster

Joy Lawrence ('94) soccer, basketball and softball, place kicker on football team, Rose Festival queen

Christy Lacey-Krietz MacColl ('96) cross country, basketball, soccer, track and field

Lauren Thies ('97) swimmer

Jordan Polk ('08) Three sport athlete

Kendall Johnson ('09) soccer professional

Nathan Mathabane ('09) Soccer

2020 Hall of Honor inductees

Dr. James Goodrich ('64) neurosurgeon

Harry Glickman ('41) a founder of the Trail Blazers

Judge Hans Linde ('41) Oregon Supreme Court justice

William Porter ('54) Watkins top retail salesman

Tom Hallman ('71) Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The Oregonian newspaper

Colin O'Brady ('02) American pro endurance athlete

2021 Hall of Honor inductees

Earle A. Chiles (1923) philanthropist

Elmer Kolberg ('35) All American and All Pacific Coast football player at OSU

Robert Pamplin Jr. ('60) businessman, publisher, philanthropist, historical preservationist

Scott Cress ('64) super athlete/scholar

Kathleen Hart ('78) one of first three-sport athletes, all PIL state honors

Julian Illingworth ('02) All-Star soccer player

Chet Orloff ('67) historian, Pamplin International Collection of Art History manager

Doug Morten LHS teacher/coach for 50 years

David Bailey LHS teacher/coach for 50 years


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