Mark Smith crowned the 100th queen Saturday

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JEFFREY BALL - Emma A. Waibel, a 17-year-old West Linn High School junior, was selected Saturday morning as the 100th Portland Rose Festival Queen. She was the first West Linn student selected for the 15-member Rose Festival court. Her parents, Robert Waibel and Shannon McBride, joined Royal Rosarian Prime Minister Mark Smith of Sherwood after the coronation. This year’s prime minister of the Royal Rosarians — that nattily dressed group who serve as the official greeters and ambassadors of goodwill for the city of Portland — was none other than Mark Smith, a member of the Downtown Lake Oswego Rotary Club.

As such, the Sherwood resident was in charge of not only knighting 51 honorees Friday morning as part of the Royal Rosarians' annual ceremony, but also personally crowned this year’s queen, Emma A. Waibel, a 17-year-old West Linn High School junior.

As prime minister, Smith, 65, is the top dog when it comes to overseeing 282 Royal Rosarians, notable for their fancy white suits and cream-colored straw hats.

Smith, who lives off of Ladd Hill Road, has been a member of the Royal Rosarians for 17 years, having been sponsored by a friend from rotary.

Headed up the Columbia Gorge for a well-deserved break after the weekend’s exhausting events, Smith said outside of getting married to his wife Bobbie, and being commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy, his duties as prime minister were one of the major highlights in his life.

And the queen’s coronation was the pinnacle of those duties.

“You know, the coronation was really something,” he said. “It was wonderful.”

It was also highly significant because it was the 100th such coronation.

Smith also was impressed with the diversity of those knighted Friday. Among them were Nancy Hales, the wife of Portland Mayor Charlie Hales; Joey Webber, the chainsaw-wielding mascot of the Portland Timbers who is known to fans as Timber Joey; and Mike Irwin, head of Homeland Security for the state of Oregon.

Irwin is also a family friend, Smith pointed out.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Mark Smith, a 1966 graduate of Sherwood High School, is this year's prime minister for the Royal Rosarians. Smith is a long-time Sherwood-area resident whose daytime job is that of a forester.

Smith, who “grew up in Sherwood when it was nothing,” said he finds his selection in the much-sought-after prime minister position quite an honor.

“I’m the first forester to be prime minister in 102 years and... I’m the first prime minister to be from Sherwood, Oregon,” he said.

Smith said what also made the weekend special was the fact that both his grandchildren, Grace, 9, and Sam, 4, were able to accompany him during the Grand Floral parade ride through downtown Portland. He especially got a kick out of the fact that Sam, who is a cancer survivor, was wearing an identical white suit and cream-colored hat.

“He would doff his hat along with Grandpa,” said Smith. “That was really a special day.”

Smith said he was also pleased Sherwood has another connection the Portland Rose Festival. The Mixolydians, an acclaimed vocal group from Sherwood High School, were among those performing during the coronation ceremonies.

After graduating from Sherwood High School in 1966, where he had a role in the school’s production of the musical “South Pacific,” Smith pursued a degree in forestry from Oregon State University. He would later spend a year as a first lieutenant aboard the destroyer USS Turner Joy off the coast of North Vietnam. (The Turner Joy was one of the principal ships involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incident.)

In August, Smith and 80 other Royal Rosarians will be taking a goodwill tour of Russia traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg via a chartered cabin boat. The irony of the visit isn’t lost on the fact that in the 1970s, Smith’s U.S. ship used to hunt for Russian submarines. But the Cold War is over and the group has a different mission this time.

“We’re going to be planting a rose over there on behalf of the city of Portland,” he said.

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