Family, friends pay tribute to former THPRD leader

A throng of visitors packed the spectator seats at Monday night’s Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation Board of Directors meeting not to weigh in on a neighborhood project, but to honor a man many consider responsible for making the park district into the prized community asset it is today.

Before digging into regular board business at its monthly business meeting, district officials took time to recognize Howard M. Terpenning, who served as the district’s general manager from 1959 to 1993. Terpenning, whose leadership was considered visionary enough to name the district’s 92-acre recreation complex at 158th Avenue and Walker Road in his honor the year after he retired, died on Saturday, Feb. 8, after a long illness.

Close to 15 of Terpenning’s family members and friends, along with local dignitaries such as Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, attended the meeting to pay tribute to the man and his accomplishments. by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - This photo was taken while Howard Terpenning was at the helm of the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District.

Noting Terpenning led the district through “a pretty explosive period” in which the district’s population grew from 20,000 to 150,000, District General Manager Doug Menke presented a video clip from the Special Districts Association of Oregon. The organization named its lifetime achievement award for Terpenning, who headed up the association from 1985 to 1988. In a grand coincidence, the organization announced its decision on the very day of Terpenning’s passing.

“He was the warmest, most genuine person you could meet,” said Frank Stratton, the association’s executive officer, in the video. “Howard has left an incredible legacy for this organization.”

Nancy Berman, one of Terpenning’s two daughters attending Monday’s meeting, spoke of her father’s “open door policy” at his office, where employees were always free to come talk to him about whatever they felt like.

“He really treasured his years working with the park district,” Berman said. “He made many friends, many of whom became lifelong friends. He was very proud of what he did both in the Special Districts Association and the (park district).”

Joe Blowers, president of the park district board, extended his appreciation to Berman, her sister Carol, and the other family members in attendance at the Dryland Aquatic Center’s meeting room.

“We thank you with our warmest, heartfelt thanks to your family for this wonderful man you shared with us,” he said.

As family members and friends mingled outside after the ceremony, Wayne Boaz, Carol’s husband, recalled his father in-law’s generous, unassuming nature.

“Howard was very much a humble man,” he said. “He didn’t take credit for a lot of stuff. He saw the added benefit the park district was to the community. He enjoyed the fact that the community got so much out of it.”

Carol Boaz didn’t fully appreciate how integral her father was to the community until she became an adult.

“Growing up, you don’t realize all that’s involved,” she said. “Later on, you really came to understand the impact that he made.”

It wasn’t lost on Carol that her father’s name was attached to a high-profile recreational complex while Terpenning was still in his prime years.

“But he was really humble about that too,” Carol said. “He was always giving credit to those he worked with, and would never take credit for himself.”

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