Monday, August 31, 2009

The Adventurous Life of Alyce

Alyce Mason Walberg

Looking back, Lafayette California and pretty much the entire East Bay, was an ideal place to grow up: three little towns a few miles apart, with even smaller towns scattered around the green meadows and rolling hills. My brother Richie and I could count on swimming as early as June first each year. We could walk, and later bike, to the Park Theater alone when we were very young, then home again in the dark with nothing and no one to be afraid of.

I was the youngest in my family and the only girl at that. My brothers worked for my father from 10 or 11 years old and on. I, on the other hand, was raised to be a wife and mother, as were many girls in those days. I had no chores. My little neighbor girl friend had to rush home from school each day to take the clothes off the line and feed their chickens. I actually coveted my neighbor’s chores. I had no goals; no one had any expectations of me. I pretended a lot. Often on the walk home from school I would pretend I was in a strange town, looking for a hotel. I would find one, of course: my bedroom.

After freshman year at Acalanes I quit school and got married. I wanted my own house to tend, I wanted babies. Most of all, I wanted responsibilities. Boy, did I get ‘em. By age 23 I had four children and was, predictably, divorced. I stumbled around quite a bit, moving a lot to wherever sounded fun, dragging my children along with me. Fortunately, I met my husband, Arlin, who took me on and my kids, too. He raised all of us.

At Acalanes, my first year Spanish teacher was Mr. Donna. He would describe Mexico to the class. He used to say, “Don’t judge Mexico by its border towns. Go deep into Mexico. You will see flowers growing everywhere all year long. You will see beautiful little towns and relaxed, smiling people on burros and working in the fields.” He painted such a lovely picture in my mind and I thank him for that.

Arlin and I suddenly had a small amount of money coming in monthly for a short time. We decided to move to Mexico for awhile. Arlin would try his hand at writing and making jewelry, I would tend to the house as usual and home-school the kids. We lived near Guadalajara in a small town, Ajijic, on the shore of beautiful Lake Chapala, for four years. It was a wonderful peaceful life.

In 1969, the income was about to end and we returned to the United States. Arlin was very sick. He had rheumatic fever as a kid and was always told he would not live to see 40. His main heart valves were defective. I never let myself believe I might lose him one day. We got as far as Los Angeles, then Arlin collapsed. He had heart surgery there, one of the first valve replacement surgeries. He had many strokes after that. He did not work after the strokes. I knew I would have to do something to support us.

I took a typing class at the high school, and went to work for our landlord in his Santa Monica tax office: simple bookkeeping and tax returns. Between my job, and Arlin’s disability payments we were able to save a little money for a down payment on some property. A good friend was looking for country property all over the US and wrote to us, saying, “This is it. Come here to Summit, Oregon.” In 1971, Arlin was able to travel and we moved to Summit. It was, and still is, a beautiful Coast Range mountain settlement of about 500 people. Fir trees, rivers, a grange, community center. We arrived here on my 35th birthday. That was 38 years ago this past June.

I got a job 21 miles away in Corvallis, Oregon at a CPA firm and started college (at age 35!). I got an accounting position at Oregon State University and retired as the accountant for the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.

There are four houses on my property here in Summit. My kids (Janis 56, Tim 54, Ken 53, and Ron 49) all live here, some with spouses, at this time. I have 3 granddaughters, three grandsons, and two great-granddaughters, all born in Oregon. Arlin passed away and will forever be missed.

I married again but have been single for 10 years. I plan to stay single.

I have been to Mexico many times since we left in 1969. I try to spend winters there on the Pacific Coast in the warm sunshine. I had planned to retire in Mexico, but things don’t always go according to plan.

The words, “Your Life”, have taken on a new meaning for me as I get older. It seems I thought of Life, unconsciously, as something never-ending. We are young for so long that it seems it will go on and on forever. It reminds me of Splash Mountain at Disneyland. You are in the little boat traveling on water and everything is so cute on the sidelines, sweet, happy-go-lucky music is playing, and all of a sudden an overhead vulture says, “Heh, heh, heh. They don’t know what’s coming.” Next thing, you are over the edge, straight down into the water.

Yes, Alyce, “Your Life” has an end. You better get to Mexico and spend some time there while you still have a Life. (I may do that.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wonderful Life of Bill Miller

The Lives of Bill and Mimi Miller

After a Summer of fun in 1954 I moved up North to the little town of Eugene, Oregon and attended the University of Oregon. It was long before the “Animal House” reputation. I studied Marketing within the Business School at the University. I finished my degree in 1958 and was ready to tackle the fascinating world of big business.
My first job was working for E.I. du Pont Company in Wilmington, Delaware as an Advertising Trainee. Although I enjoyed my work as I learned du Pont’s advertising philosophy my thoughts were still in Eugene where Mimi was finishing up her senior year at the University. After she finished her degree we married and she moved back to Wilmington to help me with my emerging career.
It seems that the career needed at least one more addition to be successful as we had our first child, LeeAnne in 1961. Shortly after LeeAnne’s birth we encountered one of my many career moves as du Pont assigned me to work in Southern California.
Always interested in new challenges I went to work for Ernest and Julio Gallo and their growing wine business. For a short time I worked out of Houston, Texas to open up the wine market in the South for Gallo. After having success in several of the Southern States Gallo moved me to their Modesto, California headquarters. Gallo was the largest wine producer in the United States and a privately owned business so it was very interesting to see how it operated.
It seemed that the family of three could not do all the work without adding another member. So in 1965 we added Peter our son to our household.
After about five years with Gallo I left and we moved to Portland, Oregon where Mimi was raised and I went to work for an advertising company. As I worked for the advertising company I went back to school and finished my MBA at Portland State University.
So now we had even room for more in the family so in 1969 we added our second daughter Katie. You can tell my work load kept increasing and I needed all this help from our growing family.
So after awhile with restlessness and new opportunity we moved to Alamo, California and I went to work for Pillsbury. They were a very large growing food conglomerate. In Alamo we enjoyed raising our family and being around many old friends like Ann and Buddy Needham.
After several years we moved back to Oregon and I worked for a wine company and another large food conglomerate, Lamb-Weston. Mimi was happy to be back in old familiar territory with family and friends nearby.
All this moving and experience led me eventually to become the President and CEO of Red Robin International. It was a big responsibility to run an international company but I enjoyed it immensely.
Along the way I played a lot of golf and did a lot of fly fishing. We even had a large motor boat to cruise along the Columbia and through the San Juan Islands to the top of Vancouver Island in Canada. We also traveled a lot for business and some for pleasure in Western and Eastern Europe and in Southeast Asia.
Mimi has always been a great partner in our business life and in our family life. Much of my success has been due to her help and diligence. She often had to move us as I went ahead to my new job with little notice and then get the children settled into new schools. She often had to entertain one of my business associates with little time or notice. So my career has been a great partnership from the beginning. By the way we are celebrating our 50 years of marriage this year.
Also we are very proud of our adult children and their successes. Our daughter LeeAnne is currently an HR manager for a startup software company in Portland. Our son Peter is a partner in a finance company in Portland. Finally our daughter Katie lives in Amsterdam and is working in advertising. She had to follow her dad’s first business love. They seem to represent the three legs of my own career with the added grace of Mimi’s personality.
We now have five wonderful grand children that visit us at Black Butte Ranch, Oregon where we have retired.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Who can you recognize in this early reunion?

Bob Thain's Unusual Profession

Bob Thain has a 35 year history with the sport of rodeo. As the owner of Bob Thain Productions, Reno, Nevada, the largest rodeo promotion and production company in the country, Bob was active in 19 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Bob was Co-Commission of the ProRodeo Cowboys Association during its reorganization 1985-86. He was a member of their Board of Directors for 18 yrs., 3 as Chairman, and on the PRCA National Finals Rodeo Board for 19 years. Bob was the PRCA Man of the Year for 1985 and inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1999. Bob was additionally honored by being the first ever to be "retired" in the arena in Las Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo in 2005.

Bob served as Executive Director of the ProRodeo Stock Contractors' Association for 10 years and was the General Manager of Benny Binion's Bucking Horse and Bull Sale held during the NFR, Las Vegas, for 8 years. He was talked out of retiring to produce the Senior National Finals Rodeo for 4 years. He was the editor of the glossy coffee table book 100 Years of Rodeo Stock Contracting, which sold out in 2 years and is now a collector's item. A couple of additional highlights of Bob's career with rodeo include holding the attendance record for a 1-day rodeo when he filled the Rose Bowl with 52,000 fans, and producing Rodeo as a special event held during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Bob and his wife Linda recently purchased a summer home in Gold Beach, Oregon. They enjoy traveling from their winter home base in Reno, Nevada.