Centenarian is going strong and loves a party

by: BARBARA SHERMAN - HE'S 104 AND COUNTING - Linda Estrada takes a photo of Curt Tigard with Gilda Burks at his birthday breakfast at the Royal Villas Clubhouse on April 13.April 13 was Curt Tigard's 104th birthday, and the Royal Villas community where he has lived for more than 40 years celebrated with a breakfast in the Clubhouse before he left later in the day for another party at the John Tigard House Museum hosted by the Tigard Historical Association.

Curt's son and daughter-in-law David and Sandra Tigard came from Portland for the events and noted that longevity runs in the family - Curt's mother lived to be 105.

"We're so proud of him - he does so much," Sandra said.

Curt was recovering from a fall this past winter but said he wants to resume his golf game as soon as he can.

"I'll be getting out there swinging the golf club and watching the ball go somewhere," he said.

Curt recently renewed his driver's license after passing the vision test, and true to form, it was renewed for another eight years, until April 13, 2021. Curt was born in 1909, and his driver's license notes that his record was created in 1925, when he got his first license at age 16.

If nothing else, Curt has seen the city of Tigard's history unfold before his very eyes. When he was young, the town wasn't called Tigard. It was Tigardville.

"It was practically all farmland," he recalled in an interview for his 101st birthday. "I can remember after World War I, after the Armistice, we'd go into Portland twice a week by horse and buggy."

The grandson of Wilson Tigard, who founded the town in 1852, Curt was born to Rosa and Charles F. Tigard and grew up with his sister Grace Tigard Houghton on Fonner Street.

Curt's parents operated the Tigardville General Store and later the post office at the intersection of Pacific Highway and McDonald Street.

It was customary in those days to name the post office after the postmaster, and Tigardville was formed, Curt said. Later, with the expansion of the railroad in the area, the "ville" was dropped to avoid confusion with Wilsonville, and Tigard was born.

Growing up in a time before mass communication, Curt learned to drive his first car - the family's Model T Ford - in 1918, a few years before he got his first driver's license.

Graduating from Oregon Agricultural College - which is now Oregon State University - in 1930, Curt spent five years searching the area for work due to the Depression until finally landing a bookkeeper position at US Bank in Portland. It was a relationship that would last for more than 30 years, and longtime Tigard residents might remember Curt as the manager of the Tigard branch of US Bank.

Curt has shied away from the public light, never running for public office in the town that his family helped found, though that didn't stop him from being involved in the city.

"Spending 18 years at the bank, you were on every damn committee there was," he said. "You were involved in the activity of the community all the time. There were lots of times when I might be home two nights a week, otherwise you're at meetings with the school board or the city center."

Curt retired in 1971, the same year he moved to Royal Villas, but retirement didn't stop the energetic Curt from getting out and seeing the world.

While he's called the Tigard area home for more than 80 years of his life - he spent some time in Albany and more time in the U.S. Army overseas - Curt traveled the world, crossing the Atlantic 20 times, and visiting every continent except Antarctica.

His adventures are chronicled on a small map on his wall, a spider web of lines leaving Tigard and stretching to the farthest corners of the world. "We've been around a few times," Curtis joked. "It's a good history."

These days, Curtis isn't traveling all that much, but that doesn't mean that he's any less active.

He has been a member of the Tualatin Country Club since 1964, when the club opened its membership up to non-Jewish members.

"I'm so old and have been a member for so long, I don't pay dues out there anymore, which is nice," he said.

Curt has earned his keep in other ways, for example, as a volunteer exterminator for the country club's insurmountable mole population. It's a skill he's had since childhood, when Washington County used to pay people to catch moles.

"They used to pay us 10 cents for every mole that we caught," he said. "I'd follow my dad around plowing and then send them in to the county."

Curt said that his golf game has suffered a little bit over the years, but he hasn't let that slow him down. "My swing's a little less strong, but I still putt pretty good," he said. "If I can get on the green, then I do all right."

Curt said he's enjoying his time at the country club and living in the town that bears his grandfather's name.

Barbara Sherman contributed to this story.

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