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Memorial to Alex Rovello organized at Berkeley Park

LOCAL ATHLETE DIES


by: RITA A. LEONARD - Visitors to the Alex Rovello memorial at Berkeley Park recall the young tennis star, a Cleveland High School graduate and later a student at the University of Oregon - and his friendly spirit.Local tennis athlete Alex James Rovello, only 21 years of age, passed away after a cliff-diving accident May 11 in the Willamette National Forest.

On Saturday, May 11, at about 2 pm, Linn County Emergency Dispatch was notified by Lane County 911 that they had received a telephone call requesting assistance in rescuing a man who had jumped into what’s known as Blue Pool, from the 60-foot cliff at Tamolitch Falls, and had not surfaced.

Tamolitch Falls and Blue Pool are in Linn County, about two miles north of Trail Bridge Campground, on Highway 126 near the Lane County line.

Witnesses told deputies it appeared Rovello hit the water with his face and upper chest. Several attempts by friends and bystanders to save him were unsuccessful, due to the depth of the victim, and the frigid 37 degree (Fahrenheit) water.

Deputies from both Linn and Lane Counties responded, and found the victim deceased at the bottom of Blue Pool, 30 to 40 feet below the surface.

Alex was a 2010 graduate of Cleveland High School, where he made state history as the first men’s tennis player to win four singles state titles. One local tennis player who’d watched Alex play in those days commented to THE BEE, “he just never missed the ball!” He was a journalism major at the University of Oregon, and was also a member of the tennis team there, where he was reportedly loved as much for his warmth and leadership as for his exceptional athletic skill.

On the weekend of his memorial service at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, grieving friends and neighbors created a spontaneous memorial to him in Berkeley Park, at S.E. 39th (Chavez) and Bybee Boulevard, to remember the special young man.

Messages of remembrance there cited his helpfulness, integrity, friendly manner, and contagious smile. He was recognized as an exemplary student-athlete with a warm personality who brought people together with his upbeat, team-oriented ethic.

Flowers, balloons, photos, T-shirts, posters, tennis balls, and cards lined two sides of the fence in the park, suggesting just how many people he had affected in his short life.

A memorial account (#1070674971) has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank to honor Alex and his impact on the tennis community. Friends were urged to donate funds at any Wells Fargo Bank in lieu of flowers, to create a lasting memorial in his name. As many of the memorial messages indicated, “You left us too soon; we'll miss you. May your spirit live a little in all of us, forever.”