Dave Dahl of Dave’s Killer Bread spoke to nearly 750 students and staff members at Clear Creek Middle School on Friday, Jan. 11, telling his life story and underscoring the importance of good decisions.

“Usually I’m talking to people quite a bit older than you, so I’m a little scared,” Dahl joked. “It’s really an honor to be here sharing with you young folks.”

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: LISA K. ANDERSON - Dave Dahl, co-founder and president of Dave´s Killer Bread, says if he could change one thing in his life, he would start over and learn from someone who went down the wrong road and suffered for it. Dahl told middle school students and staff of his struggles to overcome depression and addiction while in prison.

Dahl was a meth addict and convicted felon who spent 15 years in prison for drug crimes, armed robbery, assault and other convictions before he was released from Snake River Correctional Institute in Ontario in 2004. When his brother Glenn gave him a second chance, Dahl was able to return to his family’s bread business, NatureBake, and co-found his now popular Dave’s Killer Bread line out of Milwaukie.

He shared his story openly with students, showing them a video that chronicled his journey from prison inmate to bread company president. He landed on the name “killer” because in his day, it was slang for something awesome and amazing.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: LISA K. ANDERSON - Today, Dahl is the co-founder and president of Daves Killer Bread. He says if he could change one thing in his life, he would start over and learn from someone who went down the wrong road and suffered for it.

“A lot of people will say, ‘Dave, you’re so successful,’” Dahl said. “Success is not about money. I wouldn’t have been successful if I hadn’t learned the lessons I learned way before I had money. The lesson of humility taught me I was OK as myself.

“Success is not about my car,” Dahl said. “It’s about being able to give back and hoping I can maybe inspire at least one of you to do what I’ve done. It’s about spending time with my daughters and granddaughter.”

In prison, at age 38, Dahl learned the value of education and said his life totally changed. After battling depression for years, he asked for help and got the medication he needed.

“I went to school to learn computers, got out and made some bread, and the rest is history,” Dahl said. “It’s about really learning to accept yourself and working really hard to be what you want to be.”

Students, who were bursting with questions for Dahl — from what prison was like (it “sucked”) to what Dahl’s favorite bread was (Franz white bread, he joked) — were excited about the assembly.

“He was really able to turn his life around,” said Drue Woods, an eighth-grader. “If someone is in a deep hole, they can get out.”

For Ivan Perez, also an eighth-grader, hearing Dahl’s story reminded him of his mother’s struggles in prison. He said he was glad Dave’s Killer Bread offered employment opportunities to formerly incarcerated people — 30 percent of the Dave’s Killer Bread staff are former inmates.

“He was a very big inspiration,” said Kelley Bastin, another eighth-grader. “He sounds like a good guy, and he gives me a push on to succeed.”

Shellie Valpiani, a seventh-grader, said she had looked forward to the assembly for days and thought Dave’s Killer Bread was delicious.

“It’s inspiration through all this, he came out and succeeded,” said Korbin Williams, a seventh-grader.

The presentation was organized by Kris Voss-Rothmeier, a Clear Creek social studies teacher, as a positive behavior program designed to inspire students, help them overcome peer pressure and accept if they need help.

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