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Stadium put school in big leagues 30 years ago

Tigard High School will honor former School Board Member Robert Gray by naming stadium after him

TIGARD - The stadium at Tigard High School will be 30 years old next week, and as a birthday present the Tigard-Tualatin School District will name the stadium after former School Board member Robert Gray.

Gray, a contractor who served the board when the stadium was constructed in 1981, was integral in building the stadium and the $200,000 'Project Pride' fundraising campaign that paid for it.

The stadium was first dedicated in October 1981, and the district will officially unveil the new name during the Oct. 7 football game between Tigard and Tualatin high schools, just one day shy of the stadium's 30th birthday.

The stadium would not exist today without Gray, said district spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon.

'His ability to transform community pride into tangible support made the stadium a reality,' she said.

The new stadium was important to the community, Gray said Tuesday, because it gave the Tigard area confidence.

'We had just joined the Metro league and all of a sudden we were playing with the big boys,' Gray said. 'I think (the stadium) was important because it gave kids in Tigard the feeling that they were important, which I think is good.'

Gray is the first to say that he didn't do it alone.

'It's a hell of an honor, it's awfully nice,' Gray said. 'But it's hard to totally accept because (the stadium) depended so much on everybody else.'

When the school district wasn't comfortable with having taxpayers foot the bill for an athletic facility, Gray started 'Project Pride' to raise the money.

'There were 900 families and businesses that donated to the stadium,' Gray said. 'Some kids donated $10. I remember two ladies in town who had a rummage sale and they ended up with about $300 that they donated.'

The 2,000-seat stadium was an ambitious undertaking for its time, Stark Haydon said.

Stark Haydon said that 'Project Pride' was a demonstration of community support for its young people - an example that Gray believed would sow seeds of future projects when those young people became adults.

Gray said he was only one of several people who worked on the stadium, including Bill and Kathleen Ayres, Hardy and Lynn Scroggin, Harris Hansen, Bob Carn, Dan Larsen, Joe Chamberlain, Randy Volk, Chuck Lamb, Charlie Schulz, Jean Haldorson, Wayne Huberd and Don Ferguson.

'I'm not sure this is a good thing to name it after me, there were so many people that did so much to get that thing done,' he said.

That included his own staff.

'When we put on the roof, my crew went over on a Saturday, and they just did it for free,' Gray said.

When it first opened in 1981, the stadium was widely regarded as the finest high school stadium in the state, Stark Haydon said.

'Project Pride wasn't about building a structure; it was about building pride in our young people and pride in our community,' Stark Haydon told the Board last November when it voted to name the stadium after Gray. 'His company has built all over the metro area, but one of the most important things he's ever built was that stadium.'