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Teacher's retirement ends a family tradition

Tualatin High School math teacher ends a 74-year Dolbeer teaching streak

The last in a long line of educators in the Dolbeer family retired this week from the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

Mark Dolbeer's retirement as a Tualatin High School math teacher ends a 74-year family tradition of a Dolbeer teaching in the school district.

"There was an overlap of someone from my family teaching all the way through," Mark said.

That tradition began in 1938, when the Dolbeer family moved to Tigard and Mark's paternal grandmother, Reeta, started teaching at Charles F. Tigard Elementary School.

Reeta served as a teacher for 20 years, retiring in 1958. She died in 1959, and her husband remarried.

His second wife, Ruby, who started teaching in 1945 also at C.F. Tigard, took on the Dolbeer name and continued to teach until 1972.

Records show she taught at C.F. Tigard until 1965, when she transferred to Templeton Elementary for the remainder of her career.

Both of Mark's parents graduated from Tigard High School and went into teaching.

Mark's father, Bill, taught science and math at Fowler Junior High School from 1954 to 1988.

His mother, Dorothy, spent her career teaching third-graders at C.F. Tigard from 1965 to 1988.

Following her death, Bill Dolbeer remarried another educator, who had been teaching in the district at Fowler since 1967. His second wife, Jane, took the Dolbeer name and continued her career teaching English to students at Tigard High School. She served at Tigard High from 1987 to 1997.

Mark admitted teaching wasn't always in his plan, although he grew up used to living in a home of educators.

"I always did my homework, and I always got good grades," he said. "It was sort of an expectation.

"As a teacher, my dad wasn't happy with just an answer. He always wanted to know how you got to it and what it meant."

After graduation from high school in 1972, Mark initially set his sights on a career in dentistry while also playing baseball at Portland State University.

"I wanted to be a dentist and ended up teaching health," he said, after determining he didn't want to spend his days with his hands in someone's mouth. "I knew I wanted something different, and after seeing my parents' careers, knew I could enjoy teaching and trying to make a positive influence in kids' lives."

Mark began teaching health in 1978 at Creswell High School, south of Eugene. He taught at the school until 1981, when he decided to run a restaurant for a couple years.

Missing the classroom and ready for a change, Mark moved back to Tigard, earned his math endorsement and started teaching math at Tigard High School in 1985.

"Teaching has kept me on my toes," he said. "It's different every day. You never know what to expect.

"It's rewarding when the light bulb comes on for kids and they start to get confidence in what they're doing."

Over the years, Mark took on coaching duties as well, coaching first his daughters' teams and later high school baseball, softball and basketball teams. In addition, he spent the past 27 summers teaching driver's education.

Mark also served on the faculty that opened Tualatin High School in 1992.

"The people I teach with here are all really great," he said of his last decade at Tualatin. "It was neat being part of the school as it was starting its own traditions.

"I'm going to miss being here in the grind, trying to make this place better and the kids. Kids keep you young, that's for sure."

At 58 and after 32 years of teaching, Mark said he is looking forward to sleeping in, traveling and spending time with his grandchildren.

"It will be interesting to see who I am without this identity as a teacher," Mark Dolbeer said.

Former students and the community are invited to a retirement gathering June 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bull Mountain Bar and Grill. Mark and his stepmother, Jane Dolbeer, will both be there to visit with any of the family's former students. Guests will be invited to share memories of their Dolbeer teachers.