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Mr. Lake Oswego

Colin Herald Campbell ’33

A picture of Herald Campbell

Courtesy of Special Collections, Reed College.

Photographer, utility executive, former mayor of Lake Oswego, and faithful Reed alumnus Colin Herald Campbell ’33 died June 26, 2009, in Lake Oswego.

Herald was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and moved with his family to Portland in 1920. To earn money to attend Reed, he worked for Portland Gas & Coke Company for a year after high school.

In an oral history interview conducted by Rita Pittman Parra '61 in 2004, Herald talked about driving to and from the college with Jack Lowe '33, who transported other day-dodgers, including Virginia Paris '34. “It was a great way to get to know somebody, especially when the weather was terrible,” Herald said. He and Virginia (an artist and musician who transferred to Reed from the University of Washington) met in a course in genetic and abnormal psychology and were married in 1935. While at Reed, Herald sang with the Reed Chorus, worked on the Quest, was editor of the Griffin, and earned a letter in tennis. He also worked as a correspondent for the Oregon Journal. He majored in political science and wrote his thesis on the Manchurian Crisis of 1931.

After graduation, he was hired as executive secretary for the Portland City Club. He volunteered on Reed's first Alumni Fund campaign and was then offered a job as alumni secretary and director of endowment administration at Reed (1939-42). Simultaneously, he worked as executive secretary of the Northwest Institute of International Relations at Reed, directed by Prof. George Bernard Noble [political science 1922–48]; and held a like position for the Institute of Northwest Affairs. In 1941, endowment efforts were “placed on the back burner,” and Herald tried to enlist in the military, but was refused entry because of poor eyesight. Meanwhile, his longstanding interest in photography led to a proposal to teach a course in photography at Reed in 1941-42.

He spent summer 1941 studying at Art Center School, the premier photography school in Los Angeles, and returned to Reed to enroll a class of nine, out of which seven became professional photographers. Herald's photos are still used in college publications, and reside in collections at Reed, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Historical Society. Especially notable are his wartime photos of the Kaiser Company shipyards, campus landscapes, and the classic portraits of Reed professors that he took in 1941. (“I had the damnedest time getting those guys to sit for me. They didn't want to have their photographs taken.”) In 1981, he donated 12 of the portraits to the college, including those of Prof. Rex Arragon [history 1923–74], Prof.  Barry Cerf [English 1921–48], Prof. F.L. Griffin [mathematics 1911–56], Prof. A.A. Knowlton [physics 1915–48], and Prof. Lloyd Reynolds [English and art 1929–69]. Herald worked as yard photographer for the Kaiser Company at the Swan Island Yard in 1942, and was promoted to contract engineering supervisor. He left Kaiser to work as assistant personnel director for Portland Gas & Coke Company in 1945. Three years later, he moved to a new position with Pacific Power and Light, where he established human resources and became director of industrial relations in charge of collective bargaining for five states; he retired in 1976.

Herald's and Virginia's association with Lake Oswego began in 1952; they bought a lakeside home, where they raised their three daughters, all artists. Later the couple moved to a smaller home, designed by Virginia, and most recently lived in Mary's Woods, a retirement community in Lake Oswego. In retirement, Herald began a second career in local government, as councilor for the city of Lake Oswego and as mayor for two terms. He was an advocate or board member for many organizations, including the Oregon Symphony, Portland Symphonic Choir, United Way, Portland Civic Theatre, Contemporary Crafts Society, and the University Club. Likewise he was involved in the work of the Oswego Heritage Council, Lakewood Center for the Arts, Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, Lakewood Theatre Company, Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, and Lake Oswego Rotary.

Herald's alumni file is filled with clippings about his accomplishments and presence in Lake Oswego, where he was known as “Mr. Lake Oswego.” Local papers referred to him as one of the city's greatest treasures, and noted that his positive stance toward community issues was influential and inspiring, as was his warm and engaging presence. He was honored many times, including as Citizen of the Year for Dedicated Community Service (1983); Community Leader of the Year (1983); and Paul Harris Fellow (1987). He received the City of Lake Oswego Distinguished Service Award (1984); and, with Virginia, the Bob Bigelow Lifetime Achievement Award (2000). The Reed Alumni Association recognized the couple with the Foster-Scholz Distinguished Service Award in 1993, and the Campbell Native Garden in Lake Oswego was dedicated to them in 1998.

No piece about Herald would be complete without mentioning his delightful sense of humor, which slipped easily into his conversations and writing. Even on an old alumni biographical information sheet, discovered while searching for details for this memorial, he dutifully penned his answers until he arrived at the entry “Maiden.”

“Never was one,” he wrote.

Survivors include Virginia, daughters Susanna, Corinna, and Virginia, and three grandchildren.

Appeared in Reed magazine: November 2009

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