A look at Dennis Richardson's legacy
Ridenbaugh Press of Carlton is publishing "Our Friend Dennis: The Public Life of Dennis Richardson" this month, a compilation of anecdotes, interviews, first impressions and insights on the former Oregon Secretary of State.
Richardson, who also served six terms in the Oregon House of Representatives, was the Republican candidate for the 2014 Oregon governor's race. He died of brain cancer in 2019.
The book's author and editor, W. Scott Jorgensen, first became acquainted with Richardson nearly two decades ago when the author was working for the Central Point Sun and Richardson had just been elected to the House.
In "Our Friend Dennis," Jorgensen imparts:
"After the election, I went to interview Dennis in person at his law firm office on Fourth Street. The main topic was what he was doing to prepare for his newly elected position.
Dennis discussed how he prescribed to the Benjamin Franklin philosophy that the first part of your life is spent learning and making a living. But after that, it's time to pay it forward through public service.
As he spoke about the founding fathers and his own personal philosophy, a revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. It almost felt like the hand of God reached down, grabbed me by both shoulders and shook me. I realized that if Dennis is a conservative, and I agree with much of what he's saying, then that probably means I'm more conservative than I thought I was. That came as a quite a shock."
Richardson ultimately became a mentor to Jorgensen, who has served as Aurora city recorder for the past two-and-a-half years and is the incoming city administrator for the city of Rainier. He has published three other works through Ridenbaugh: "Transition," "On the Cusp of Chaos" and "Conversations with Atiyeh."
"Our Friend Dennis" outlines the evolution of Richardson's political and public life, which dates back to March of 2001, when he was appointed to the Central Point City Council. The book draws from a wide variety of voices, including Oregon Sen. Kim Thatcher, who is currently a candidate for Secretary of State; former legislator Jeff Kropf of Sublimity; Willamette Week reporter Nigel Jaquiss; video production company owner Michael Calcagno; and photographer Lynn Howlett.
Jorgensen said he first came up with the concept for the book in March 2019. Richardson died Feb. 26, 2019, while serving as secretary of state.
In the book's introduction, Jorgensen writes:
"... what Dennis meant to me started becoming more clear over the next few months. I had always thought of him as a friend, distinct from the hundreds of elected officials I knew from careers in the press and legislature because I had worked directly for him, as a legislative aide in the 2005 session.
"But he was more than even just a friend. I didn't realize, until after he was gone that Dennis was one of my early mentor figures. Anytime his name came up in conversation, I found myself getting teary-eyed all over again. And I knew I wasn't alone in missing him."
"Our Friend Dennis: The Public Life of Dennis Richardson"
Published by Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon.
For information, call 503-852-0010 or visit www.ridenbaugh.com
The book is available on Amazon.com.
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