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Chamber pays tribute to Koraches, Cushing

Annual awards dinner honors deep commitment to making Lake Oswego 'the special place that it is'

REVIEW PHOTO: J. BRIAN MONIHAN - Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce President Blake Zoglman (middle) poses with Bill and Ricky Korach, who were honored Saturday with the Bob Bigelow Lifetime Achievement Award.Bill Korach has given out a lot of awards for the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce over the years. But on Saturday night, the former school superintendent and his wife, Ricky, were honored for their own impressive contributions to the community.

The Koraches were named recipients of the Bob Bigelow Lifetime Achievement Award when the Chamber celebrated its 75th anniversary with a gala dinner and auction at the Oregon Golf Club, an honor Bill Korach called “so special.”

“It is special because it honors service to the community that we both love,” Ricky Korach agreed. “We have great respect for all the people who contribute so much — who have made and who continue to make Lake Oswego the special place that it is.”

Several of those people also were honored Saturday:

CUSHING-- Attorney Doug Cushing was named Community Leader of the Year for his deep commitment to the Chamber and his profound impact on the quality of life in Lake Oswego;

-- Bill and Barbara Warner were honored with the Lakewood Center for the Arts Award;

-- Scott Havens was given the Oswego Heritage Council Award; and

-- Shari Newman received the Arts Council of Lake Oswego Fortune Award.

But it was Bill Korach who drew loud applause and a few laughs when he pointed out that while his award contained the word “lifetime,” he and his wife still have plenty of “game” left.

“We are well aware that we are closer to the end than to the beginning,” he said, “but we are still fortunate to have the time to continue investing in what matters most to us — our family and our community.”

The Koraches have been doing exactly that for decades.

Over a 27-year career as superintendent, Bill Korach led the Lake Oswego School District to the top of state and national lists of excellence; at one point, every school in the district received the state’s highest rating. He was honored as Oregon’s superintendent of the year and as one of the top four superintendents in the nation.

He also served on the Chamber’s board for 27 years (including two terms as president) and played a key role in the development of its Leadership Lake Oswego program. He is a longtime member of the Lake Oswego Rotary Club and, together with his wife, co-chairs the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts.

Ricky Korach’s list of accomplishments also is remarkable. Over the course of her 46-year career in education, she taught more than 6,000 students at Lake Oswego High School; even in retirement, she continues to serve as a reading volunteer at four elementary schools. In addition to her work on the Festival of the Arts, Ricky Korach has also been a board member and volunteer at the Lakewood Center, a member of the Lake Oswego Reads steering committee and an active participant in a variety of civic boards and committees.

In accepting the honor, Bill Korach recalled one of his last talks with Bob Bigelow, the former publisher of the Lake Oswego Review for whom the Lifetime Achievement Award is named. Bigelow died of a heart attack in 2000 at the age of 42.

“Bob said, ‘You can’t always have everything go your way in life, but you can always be caught trying,’” Korach said. “Ricky and I hope to always be caught trying.”

Like the Koraches, Cushing was honored for his deep commitment to community service. An attorney with the Lake Oswego law firm Jordan Ramis PC, he served one term as president of the Chamber board and then agreed to return for a second year to help the organization recover when its bookkeeper was arrested for embezzlement.

He also has served as chairman of the Chamber’s nominating and tourism grant committees, and is the current chairman of its government affairs committee. “When the Chamber has needed strong leadership,” CEO Keith Dickerson said, “Doug provided it.”

Other awards handed out Saturday included:

Denton Small Business of the Year Award: Sisters Deborah Ulrich and Suzanne Buxton of On A Whim Studios;

Denton Large Business of the Year Award: Holiday Retirement.CEO Scott Shanaberger accepted the honor for the company, which operates more than 300 retirement centers and moved its world headquarters to Lake Oswego in 2012;

Chamber Champion Award: Christopher and Kristine Boyer of the Academy of Modern Martial Arts;

Networker of the Year: Julia Fowler of Blue Moon Coffee; and

Headlee Beautification Award: Kruse Way Village.