Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Coaches’ Room’ of McMinnville’s Hotel Oregon honors Linfield’s Durham, Helser, Rutschman and Wilson

What’s the best place in McMinnville to sleep and have sweet Linfield Wildcat dreams?

Room 414, “The Coaches’ Room” in Hotel Oregon.

It honors Linfield Wildcat coaches Paul Durham, Roy Helser, Ad Rutschman and Ted Wilson, among initial enshrinees in Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.

All but Wilson graduated from Linfield where they were outstanding Wildcat athletes. (Wilson was an Eastern Oregon University grad and standout athlete.)

The tallest building in the city, the hotel – listed in the National Register of Historic Places -- is downtown at the corner of Third and Evans Streets, 310 NE Evans St.

It opened in 1905 as two-story Hotel Elberton. Soon thereafter, two more floors were added.

A Portland Business Journal article says Hotel Elberton was popular with “commercial and transient traffic as well as students and professors from McMinnville College (now Linfield College).”

In 1932 it was renamed Hotel Oregon.

In the late 1990s, after McMenamins – a Portland-based chain of brewpubs, breweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs – bought the hotel, it was renovated. Renovation included completing the fourth floor, refurbishing guest rooms, and more.

Tim Hills, McMenamins historian, said he remembered having a “lot of fun” gathering details for “The Coaches’ Room,” especially in phone conversations with Paul Durham, Dorothy Helser (Roy’s widow), Ad Rutschman and Ann Wilson (Ted’s widow).

Below (with editing/rewriting by Wildcatville) is text from McMenamins which inspired brief biographical info painted on walls of The Coaches' Room. (Photos with story show only Durham bio. There are, indeed, bios for each coach on room walls.)

As a Linfield student in the 1930s, Coach Durham starred on the school's football, basketball and track teams. A pivotal person in Linfield's athletic development, Durham coached the college's football team for 20 years (1948–1967), racking up a phenomenal 122-51-10 record, including six conference titles and two trips to the NAIA championship game, the 1961 Camellia Bowl in Sacramento, Calif., and the 1965 Championship Bowl in Augusta, Ga. Coach Durham's Linfield squad was the first NW Conference team to participate in the NAIA playoffs. For three seasons, 1949-1952, Durham and Roy Helser were co-coaches of Linfield men’s basketball. He was the coach who started (in 1956) Linfield’s well known national consecutive winning football seasons streak. As Linfield athletic director, 1949-1968, he hired Helser, Rutschman and Wilson. He’s enshrined in the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame and honored with a statue/monument in the courtyard next to Linfield’s college’s health, human performance, and athletics building. The college’s athletic hall of fame and foyer, named for Coach Durham, are housed in the building.

Linfield's baseball field is named for Coach Helser, who was an awesome athlete for the school and even better coach. “Lefty” lettered in basketball, baseball and football at Linfield in the 1930s, after which he was a star southpaw pitcher for the professional Portland Beavers through most of the 1940s. (Although a member of Linfield Class of 1936, he didn’t graduate with that class. He came back to school and earned his degree in 1941. There is evidence he may have been Linfield head baseball coach in 1941.) In 1949, “Lefty” returned to his alma mater to coach the Wildcats nine to 14 NW Conference Championships and the college’s first national team championship (NAIA baseball) in 1966, and the men’s basketball team to three NW Conference co-championships and one outright NWC title in 1961. He and Paul Durham were co-coaches of men's basketball 1949-1952 (3 seasons) and he coached the sport solo 1952-1961 (9 seasons). He served as an assistant football coach under Paul Durham for several seasons. From 1968 to 1973, “Lefty” was Linfield athletic director. He’s a member of the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame.

He is the only college coach ever to skipper both football and baseball teams to national titles. In Coach Rutschman’s 24 seasons (1968-1991) leading the football team, the Wildcats won three NAIA national championships, 15 conference titles and compiled a remarkable record of 183-48-3. As baseball coach from 1971-1983, Rutschman led the team to a NAIA national championship, six conference championships and seven district titles. A member of the NAIA Hall of Fame, he is enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Rutschman also left quite a legacy from his nearly quarter century (1973-1996) as Linfield's athletic director. For example, his leadership successes included construction of the college’s health, human performance, and athletics building. Linfield’s athletic field house honors Coach Rutschman and his wife, Joan Rutschman, long-time Linfield Athletics secretary, ticket manager and booster club coordinator. Both Rutschmans are Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame members.

As head coach for Linfield's men's basketball team from 1961-1981, Wilson amassed over 320 wins, including 10 conference championships. His teams set school records for longest home winning streak (25), longest road winning streak (6), single game scoring record (141) and single-season scoring average (99.3). A Linfield and Eastern Oregon University Athletics Hall of Fames member, Coach Wilson was inducted into the national basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. Linfield's gymnasium in the college's health, human performance, and athletics building is named for him.

THANKS to Hotel Oregon (McMinnville) and its owner McMenamins (corporate headquarters office in Portland) and specifically to Tim Hills, Angie Marsh and Dani Chisholm for assistance with this posting. Wildcatville photos taken Nov. 5, 2015, of and in Hotel Oregon.

SOURCES include, but not limited to:
Portland Business Journal
McMinnville Downtown Assn.

or call 888-472-8427 or 503-472-8427.