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Easing into retirement

Doctor-nurse couple throws wing-ding of a party to celebrate new phase in life
by: John Klicker, Linde and Peter Eidenberg enjoyed a retirement party at their Wheeler Road home last weekend.

For the first time in years, Linde and Peter Eidenberg can go someplace in the same car. The two are stepping into retirement one foot at a time. Peter Eidenberg, 69, retired last September after a 38-year career as a Gresham physician. Linde Eidenberg, a nurse who took up nursing computers for the Legacy Health system, retired the last day of January.

'We never got to go any place in the same car because Pete was on call and might need to leave,' Linde says of their working years.

Fortunately, just as gas got to $3 a gallon, he laughs, they can now share a ride.

The two and their children threw a retirement celebration party last weekend on their Wheeler Road acreage. There is room for a crowd and Linde estimates 250 people came to mark the life change that sends the two longtime community volunteers into retirement.

Betraying the skills that made her a good nurse and a great volunteer, Linde posted signs all over the place naming the various flower gardens, the dogs, the cats, Patrick the cantankerous rooster, and the frog pond.

'I didn't want to have to keep repeating myself all day,' she said of the signage.

The pair had a wing-ding of a party. Church carnival games were set up for the kids. A line-dancing teacher came to give lessons and even Smudge, the no-eared cat got his photograph taken by a curious physician-guest. (Smudge is white and lost his ears to skin cancer.) Peter Eidenberg rented a car racing arcade machine.

'They're addictive,' he observed.

Instead of gifts, guests brought food for Zarephath Kitchen, the free lunch program that is a mission of Trinity Lutheran Church and other congregations in the area.

The Eidenbergs, who met in the ICU in Philadelphia when he was a medical student, came west to 'God's country' on the advice of fellow Air Force families when they were stationed in Great Falls, Mont.

'So we came to see the West and stayed,' says Eidenberg, who is the 'city boy' of the family from Philadelphia and environs. Linde grew up in the wilds of Manitoba, the daughter of missionaries.

'We had the horse and buggy, no running water, the Saturday night baths, the whole thing,' she remembers.

She first noticed Peter as a med student - 'They are lower than low in the hospital' - who kept hanging around the nurses' station. Someone set the two up with a blind date. They have been married 40 years.

When they arrived in Oregon in 1967, they lived in Fairview next door to Phil and Aris Painter. Aris and Linde, both nurses, were mainstays at Gresham's hospital.

'And probably because I had an old Apple at home, I was supposed to have experience and got to do the computers for the hospital,' Linde said. For the last eight years she commuted to Portland for her job, a drive she does not miss.

A devoted gardener, this has been the summer of her deep content, planting, watering and digging with no time schedule.

'It is my therapy and my passion,' she says of her gardens. 'I get up and come down here in the morning with a cup of coffee to dead head and weed. At night I come down here with a glass of wine and do it again.'

Peter Eidenberg came first to the area to the Orient Drive clinic of William Rohrberg. He joined Gresham's Roberts Street Clinic in 1989.

'It was great,' he said. 'Great people to work with. The patients were wonderful people to know over 38 years. There were very few times when working that office was stressful.'

Eidenberg joined the National Guard and later the Air Force Reserve and served for eight weeks in Spain during Desert Storm.

While he tended his practice, Linde also tended the community.

'She makes things happen,' he said.

Both are supporters of Gresham-Barlow school district.

She served on the Mt. Hood Community College board and later the foundation board, as well as the foundation boards for the hospital and the Gresham-Barlow school district.

She has pruned down those activities, confining her most consistent volunteer work to Trinity Lutheran Church.

'We've reached the point in life where we have time for each other,' she says.

The Eidenbergs raised four children, have four grandchildren and are expecting two more. A new playhouse, finished 15 minutes before last weekend's party, sits near the garden.

For a riotous time, they raised about 18 head of what he calls 'dumb' Herefords.

'There would be knee-high grass where they were, and they'd want to go someplace else,' he says.

'A fence meant nothing to them,' she recalled.

'Anytime there was a cow out anywhere within miles, people would call us and they would usually be right. It was our cow,' he said, remembering countless lunch-hour roundups.

These days, they are content to enjoy their nine acres of garden with the rest in bovine-free pasture. It will be a long time, Linde says, before she is ready to leave the pleasures of her garden.

'I tried to talk about an eighth-floor Portland condo, but it didn't float,' he said.

The Eidenbergs are retired in God's country.