Featured Stories

St. Helens Hall of Fame inducts 10


1955 swim team, Dave DePriest, Naomi Calkins, Carson Bartlett, Scott Olsen, Police Chief Ralph Painter, Dr. Paul Tesar honored

The annual St. Helens Sports Boosters’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony last Saturday was again about honors, reconnecting with old friends and mentors, libations, steak dinners, and general conviviality.

The Boosters have been holding the annual event for a quarter-century (since 1987) and there was again a good crowd of coaches, athletes, friends and family.

It was also a night of joviality, deep emotions and praise for those whom their sports days meant a lot and for many continue to.

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Three of the four members of the 1955 St. Helens High swimming medley relay team were on hand for ceremonies. They included: (from left) Don Heacock, Dave Fish, and Greg Gill. Joe Coats was unable to attend.

1955 Medley Relay Swim Team

St. Helens High Athletic Director Cyndy Miller introduced the oldest contingent on hand, the 1955 AA Medley relay swimming champions. She pointed out that two of the members, Greg Gill and Dave Fish, each had appropriate last names for swimmers. Those two and Don Heacock were on hand for the ceremonies. The other member, Joe Coats was unable to attend.

Greg Gill added, “One of the reasons we were so fast was that the water was so cold. We wanted to get out as fast as we could.”

Fish chimed in with, “All I can say is that with a name like mine it’s tough to stay out of the water.”

Heacock parlayed, “I don’t have a name like fish, but I’ve been in a lot of hot water myself.”

The team took first place in the medley relay and were second in the individual relay. Gill also had a third in the 100 breaststroke.

Dave DePriest (1974)

Chuck Whittick highlighted the high school career of Dave DePriest, and talked a bit about his continued involvement in sports. DePriest graduated in 1974. He was a three-sport athlete, competing in football, wrestling, and track. He was second team all-state as an offensive lineman. He wrestled some in college and afterwards became an EMT with the local fire district. He held some coaching positions and since retiringby: JOHN BREWINGTON - DAVE DePRIEST from the fire department is back at the high school as a campus monitor.

DePriest said he sometimes feels like it’s the movie “Ground Hog Day,” where he enters the high school every day, walks the same hallway, goes to the same room: “It’s like 1974 all over again.”

DePriest was a former president of the Boosters. He compared the advantages of being a big guy in school to the disadvantages. There seemed to be more advantages.

Being a heavyweight wrestler and not having to worry about what he ate was one, as was not being forced to run after losing track meets. (Former coach Gene Strehlou used to make the runners get off the bus after a bad meet and run the last two miles back to the school.)

Former coach Wally Green wasn’t able to attend but Whittick read a letter saying he was pleased and not surprised to see DePriest inducted.

Naomi Calkins (2003)

Longtime St. Helens track and cross country coach Gerry Tinkle said that he knew from the first time he saw Naomi Calkins that she would be someone special.

Calkins graduated in 2003 with 13 varsity letters from four years in soccer, basketball, and track, plus one from her senior year when she also ran cross country. She earned accolades in all the sports, but her mostby: JOHN BREWINGTON - NAOMI CALKINS impressive were in track where she is in the top 10 in several events, plus holds the 800 meter run record.

Calkins has returned to the high school to teach (taking Tinkle’s position when he retired this year) and is also his assistant in cross country and track.

“That was a lovely romp down memory lane,” Calkins said after Tinkle’s remarks. “I’m extremely proud to be a part of the Hall of Fame.”

She said her dad was her first coach and her mom taught her patience, and calmed her dad on the sidelines in basketball. She said (athletic director) Ken Bailey taught her how to deal with playing teams like the Oregon City national championship basketball team, that Wes Bigham showed her that girls could lift weights, be strong and tough, and still be girls, and that Cyndy Miller showed her in elementary school that women could coach and do something in life.

“Gerry Tinkle was an amazing mentor in both track and field and cross county—and in my teaching endeavors. He’s been a huge supporert. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to come back to St. Helens and work with him.”

Carson Bartlett (2007)

The 2007 graduate probably had the most notable high school career, competing in four sports—soccer, basketball, track, and as a kicker on the football team his senior year.

Coach Tinkle said he didn’t know much about soccer but that Carson’s favorite sport was basketball and he enjoyed playing with his brother Ross Bartlett for two years.

While track was his least favorite sport, it was the one he was most accomplished in. Carson had already been inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 2007 5Aby: JOHN BREWINGTON - CARSON BARTLETT championship team. Since Bartlett’s 29.5 points were the highest of anyone in the meet, it was fitting that he be inducted on his own as well.

From his sophomore year on, St. Helens did not lose a district or dual meet. Bartlett was used wherever the team needed points.

At the state meet he would win the triple jump and the high jump, take second by going 6-feet, 6-inches in the high jump, and was on the third-place 4x100 relay team. Bartlett holds the school record in the triple jump, the high jump, and is three inches short of the record in the long jump.

At Pacific University, Bartlett finally got to play college ball with his brother Ross, but had to pull out of track after a knee injury.

“Over the years, I’ve been asked who was the best athlete—Ryan Waite or Carson Bartlett,” Tinkle said. “They are two very different types. Ryan was No. 2 in the nation in the 800 and a two-time state champion, but no one ever had a state meet like Carson Bartlett.”

“I want to thank my parents. Ross you were a big part of this—I was always looking up to you and trying to beat you. You’ll be up here someday,” Carson laughed. “I want to thank Cyndy Miller, my p.e. instructor and all the coaches that got me here, Tinkle especially. Jim Crislip, Pat Logan, Kyle Wroblewski all were a big part of my career at St. Helens.”

Scott Olsen (2003)

Former St. Helens High football coach Wes Bigham spoke of football player Scott Olsen that he coached for three of his four years.

Olsen was an all-state defensive lineman in high school, but he blossomed even more in college playing for Linfield. His teams won four conference championships and one national championship, plus a close semifinal appearance.

Olsen played there all four years, starting his junior and senior years, but also playing most of the national championship game his senior year.by: JOHN BREWINGTON - SCOTT OLSEN

Bigham recalled Olsen as a very hard-working athlete, always busy.

“When things were not going well his cure was to work hard,” Bigham said. “He was a very hard worker in the weight room.”

Bigham noted that Olsen broke his ankle in several places before his senior year and the question was if he would walk again. He spent a year rehabilitating it, and played his senior year and was all-league.

“I didn’t get the message about speeches,” Olsen said. “I am obviously very honored to be inducted. Playing football here meant a lot to me. It definitely helped me out a lot with what success I’ve had. Wes Bigham was a big influence growing up and Neil Johnson his last year as well. I want to thank my parents, Connie and Leonard—I was a pain in the butt. They sent me to college, though. That’s where I met my wife. And (also) thanks to Cyndy Miller.”

Chief Ralph Painter (1974)

Gary Hallaian, a teammate of Ralph Painters and a friend since eighth grade, made the presentation to his family.

Painter was inducted posthumously after dying in the line of duty on Jan. 5, 2011.by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Daughter JULIE HEUER for RALPH PAINTER

“Ralph was an outstanding athlete in both cross country and track,” Hallaian said. “This acknowledgement goes far beyond his high school days. It recognizes his role as a civil servant and community leader in St. Helens and Rainier.”

Painter led his team to Coast Valley League championships in cross country and track. He ran the half mile, mile, and two-mile runs in track.

Hallaian showed a picture of Painter from his high school days.

“That’s a classic picture of my dad,” daughter Julie Heuer said. “His legs looked like that. Skinny. White. He’d get off work from his police job, change his clothes and go off and run still wearing his black socks. He loved running. He truly loved running. We ran Hood to Coast with him for three year in a row. The first van was for the old people. The second was for the younger runners. The young guys ran for Rainier (High). Their goal was to always to beat him. They’d always ask what his time was. They never beat him. They were so frustrated. Even at 45 he could beat the pants off them.”

Heuer said her father would have been very honored by the award.

Painter was in his 50s when he died. He had been training for the Portland Marathon with his eyes set on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. He probably would have made it too.

Dr. Paul Tesar

The evening ended with the induction of Dr. Paul Tesar, a team physician in St. Helens and Scappoose for many years. Tesar started his medical career with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts. He would get a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and spend most of his early years as an army physician. He operated a clinic in St.by: JOHN BREWINGTON - DR. PAUL TESAR Helens for 37 years, closing it’s door this past year. He, along with Dr. Lyle Ackerson, and other St. Helens doctors gave free physicals to athletes for many years.

Speaking about all the coaches and teachers at the banquet, Dr. Tesar said, “I only had one coach and that was Doc Ackerson. He really taught me the ropes. He warned me about Jerry Belcher. He warned me about Wes Bigham. He warned me about Bert Mueller. He really told me about these guys and how to avoid problems when you’re trying to take care of their athletes.”

Tesar told a story about how young athletes were always afraid of hernia checks having been told stories by the older athletes.

“Doc Ackerson warned me about that,” he said. “I really have to say I owe this award to Doc Ackerson. He was my mentor and taught me the ropes. I’m very honored to receive it and thank you for it.”

Dr. Ackerson was in the first Hall of Fame class in 1987. The football stadium is named after him.