Saturday, May 13, 2017

All about the Desels, Linfielders

Terrific “Stopping By” column by Linfielder Starla Pointer in the 5/9/2017 McMinnville News-Register/N-R about the Desels, Ted (Portland’s Washington High School Class of 1957, Linfield Class of 1961) and Lynne (Spokane’s Lewis & Clark High School Class of 1960 and Linfield Class of 1964).

In addition to what’s in the column (scroll down to read it), here’s some additional information as told by Ted to Wildcatville.


Column mentions Ted took the Linfield drama/theatric arts/Little Theater director job even though its home, the original Frerichs Hall, had burned down.

“The Theatre burned over Christmas vacation December 1969. At the end of the school year Paul Little (the drama/theatric arts/Little Theater director) left for a job at the University of Redlands in California. Craig Singletary called me from Linfield to see if I would be interested in applying for the theater position, without a theater. Despite that deficit I decided I would apply. I discovered there was no real solution in sight. With Craig's leadership it was decided that if I came the administration would give the Pioneer Hall dormitory lounge as the "new" theatre. So we started from scratch and over time made it a flexible theatre, shop, and classroom for classes, construction and playing space. That was my theatre space for the duration of my time at Linfield,” said Ted.
Until 1980 at Linfield, Ted taught Acting I and II, Play Production (Stagecraft and Lighting), Scenic Design, Theatre History, Stage Makeup and co-taught a Dramatic Literature course with Dr. Kenneth Erickson.

(In 1980, Dr. Thomas Gressler, PhD, was hired as Linfield Director of Theater and Ted focused on all the technical theatre classes and functions.)


The N-R column said Ted’s early ambition was to be a truck driver. While he never drove trucks, he did, says the column, drive bus during summer vacations and during the winter ski season.

Ted explains that his “other ‘career’ (driving buses) began in in 1974 to “help make up for the salary reductions required when Linfield was in financial difficulties. I continued to drive part-time , with two short periods as a full-time driver, until last October (2016).”

He worked with several companies through the years as they were bought and sold, ending with MTRWestern last October. In that time he drove the western states and provinces from Jasper, Alberta, east to Denver (where he saw Pope John II), south to San Diego, and “most all highways in between plus many off roads with military and forest service fire teams.”

He drove bus for high school, college, and adult snow skiing groups on Friday nights or Saturdays to either Mount Hood Meadows, Mount Bachelor, Hoodoo or Willamette Pass.

One of his greatest pleasures was being Wildcat football team away game driver for 22 years. “I thank Linfield football Coach Ad Rutschman for that opportunity,” he said.


Ted had a few experiences helping with Linfield football and radio broadcasts along with Dave Hansen.

“As I recall, there was a Linfield football game at Whitman College in Walla Walla. It must have been in the mid-1970’s. I drove the team bus and Dave was the broadcaster. I was his spotter for him. But, the kicker was Dave and I did an impromptu description of a halftime marching band routine at the game. I did one or two other spotting jobs for him in those early days. Somehow I did a Linfield men’s basketball play-by-play from PLU. It was terrible and forgettable. In recent years I did some spotting for Craig Singletary at least once a season when his daughter was not available,” Ted said.
Oh, Ted also remembers going with Dave when they flew to College of Idaho (game in Caldwell) and Whitworth (game in Spokane) to do football games. “I may have been along for the ride and/or helped with spotting,” said Ted.


As a high school and college student, Ted was a team member swimming the breast stroke “to get the points for third/fourth,” he said.

At Linfield he was head coach of the Wildcat swim team in the 1973 and 1974 seasons. “We had a small team blessed with very talented swimmers. Lance Powell was the NWC breaststroke champion. We were competitive in all events we entered, too small to win any meets,” he said.


A full, happy life
By Starla Pointer, McMinnville N-R

Ted and Lynne Desel had demanding schedules when they were working, he as a professor of speech and drama, she as director of the Linfield Preschool.

They thought they were busy then. Now that they’re retired, though, their itinerary is completely full.

By choice.

 “We’re always scheduled for something,” Lynne said. “That’s nice, the way it works. We have time when we need time.”

Lynne, a member of the McMinnville Garden Cub, loves to grow plants and fashion arrangements from her own flowers and greenery.

 “Arranging is my thing,” she said, explaining how she might use daffodils, hellebores and false holly together in spring, or mix an assortment of blooms for a summer bouquet.

She’s been thinking lately of ways to discourage deer from getting to her flowers before she does. “I may get one of those big water guns,” she joked.

Lynne has a pillow in her living room that reads, “If friends were flowers, I’d pick you.” She is, in every respect, a flower person.

Indoors, she loves knitting, a pursuit she first took up in retirement. “You need to do one new thing a year, right?” she said, explaining why she decided to embrace knitting.

She also devotes time to reading.

A book club member, she reads “everything under the sun,” from self-improvement and health to mystery and suspense. She favors J.D. Robb and Catherine Coulter for the latter.

Ted is a reader as well. He’s in a men’s book club that just finished “Silence,” by Shusaku Endo, as translated by William Johnson. The historical novel tells the story of Portuguese Catholic missionaries in 17th century Japan.

Ted also directs plays, and retirement gives him time to pursue direction in greater depth. For example, when he directed Gallery Theater’s production of “Wings,” a drama about a stroke victim, he read every book available on strokes.

He and Lynne enjoy attending plays, as well. And he served as a consultant on Chehalem Repertory’s recent production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

Ted also enjoys creating N-scale model railroad layouts. He concentrates on the period between 1965 and 1975, when the Northern Pacific and Great Northern combined to become Burlington Northern.

He also has a couple of steam trains and some special pieces, including the Southern Pacific 4449 Daylight engine and a White Pass train, a reminder of the Desels’ trip to Skagway, Alaska.

The small scale — 1:160th, making locomotives about 4 inches long — challenges him to do more in less space, he said.

 “It’s like doing a big show in the Arena Theater,” he said. “You take a big idea and squish.”

In addition, Ted said proudly, he provides the muscle in his wife’s garden. He does their general yardwork, too, even giving their thick, wet lawn its first trim of the spring with a weedeater.

“Ted hardly ever sits down,” Lynne said.

Both are active in the McMinnville Covenant Church. They participate in couples’ Bible study sessions and monthly outreach sessions downtown in addition to Sunday services.

Lynne also sings soprano in a choral group and teaches children’s classes. Ted works with the sound and lighting systems, leads drama productions and drives the church van.

They both enjoy traveling, too, especially if their destination is Washington, D.C., or Texas, where they have children and grandchildren. Daughter Erin Lynne and her two girls live in the capital, while son Jeremy and his four children live in the Lone Star State.

 “One of the nicest things about retiring is the freedom to go see the grandkids,” Lynne said.

She was the founding director of Linfield’s preschool. She retired in 2005 after putting in 31 years.

“No matter what, I can’t go anywhere without someone saying ‘Hello, I had you in preschool!’” said Lynne, who has also done some public school substituting in retirement.

 “Some of them, I had both them and their parents in preschool,” she said. “They remember me.

 “That’s the fun about having a long career,” she added. “I love it!”

Although Ted also runs into former students, he’s not recognized as often as his wife. “It’s nice to be anonymous,” he quipped.

Ted retired in 2005 as well.

He had been teaching speech and directing plays at Chemeketa Community College for 14 years. Earlier, he had spent 17 years as a theater professor at Linfield.

He also drove bus during summer vacations and during the winter ski season.

The Desels, who marked their 52nd anniversary on March 21, came to McMinnville separately as Linfield students. When they met, Ted, a Portlander, was a senior, and Lynne, from Spokane, was a freshman.

Lynne was attracted to Linfield by the choir. She planned to major in English, then decided to become a teacher.

Since Linfield had no elementary education department in the 1960s, she transferred to Portland State to finish up.

Ted’s early ambition was to become a truck driver. When his mother urged him to attend college, he visited Linfield and met Paul Little, an admissions counselor and theater professor.

Ted enrolled. And he decided to pursue an interest in the technical side of theater — lighting, sound work, set building, designing and other backstage crafts — that he’d developed in high school.

He still recommends the technical side, as it offers great career opportunities for those who enjoy theater, but have no yen for the stage.

 “There are jobs with very good money and consistency,” he said. While acting is extremely competitive, he said, “as a tech, you always work.”

He has tried his hand at acting, but only on a handful of occasions.

Following graduation, Ted taught at Portland State, then Beaverton and West Linn high schools, for a time. Then one of his former professors, Craig Singletary, called to urge him to apply for a job running Linfield’s theater department.

Ted said yes, even though he knew it would pose a special challenge.

It seems the original Frerichs Hall, which housed the drama department, had just burned down. And there was neither money nor space for a new facility.

 “Linfield had produced some graduates who were doing good theater work,” he said, and he wanted to maintain that tradition. So he accepted that challenge.

During his first years as a Linfield professor, he and Lynne also served as dorm parents. Along with their baby son, they lived first in Grover, then Larsell.

On Sundays, Lynne would cook a spaghetti dinner for dorm residents, as the dining hall was closed.

He taught and directed in a small black-box performance space in Pioneer Hall, the college’s original building. For larger productions, such as the musical “Godspell,” he used Melrose.

Another of his roles was to work with the newly emerging community theater, Gallery Players of Oregon, which began staging plays in Linfield’s Renshaw Gallery during the summer. Ted directed some of the first productions for the operation, now known as Gallery Theater.

Almost half a century later, and more than a decade into retirement, Ted still directs at Gallery every year or two. His next show is set to open the theater’s golden anniversary season in January, in fact.

With help from his wife, the director will soon begin preparing.

There’s plenty of time for that. They just have to work it into their schedule.


PHOTO FROM 1974 Oak Leaves of Ted as Linfield swim coach.