Saturday, June 01, 2019

After 30 years, Linfield’s nameless HHPA should memorialize Paul Durham

After 30 years, Linfield’s nameless HHPA should memorialize Paul Durham

(This story posted June 1. 2019.)

During the summer of 1989 Linfield College’s HHPA/Health, Human Performance and Athletics building opened at the corner of Linfield Avenue and Lever Street.

A story in the June 15, 1989, Oregonian said the college’s new “physical education, health and athletics complex … has not been named.”

It’s been 30 years since HHPA went into use that summer and it’s approaching another 30 year milestone in November. It was dedicated Nov. 4, 1989.

HHPA is a well-designed and well-used facility which serves the needs of a vibrant college community. From when it opened its doors to the present, the building has continued to have a generic name when other athletics-related facilities on campus memorialize former Linfield coaches:

·        Roy Helser Field.

·        Ted Wilson Gymnasium.

·        Hal Smith Fitness Center.

·        Ad and Joan Rutschman Field House.

There is one person for whom HPPA should be named: Paul Durham (1913-2007).

Born in 1913 in Portland, where he was raised, he died at age 92 in Honolulu in 2007.
Call it the "Paul Durham Health, Human Performance and Athletics Building."

Durham’s initial contact with Linfield came as one of its students. He had wide ranging talents. Competing in football, basketball and track, he was a star athlete at Linfield in the 1930s and is one of the few Wildcats in history to earn 10 or more letters. A good student, he was also a talented singer. He graduated from Linfield in 1936, then coached at high schools in Yamhill and Portland before returning to his alma mater in 1948 to coach football and, starting in 1949, to also serve as the college's athletic director.

Durham was Linfield's head football coach for 20 seasons (1948-1967), compiling a record of 122 victories, 51 defeats and 10 ties for a .694 winning percentage.

In his final 12 football seasons, the Wildcats went 90-16-6 (.830), won six Northwest Conference championships and reached the national championship game of the NAIA twice. Those two teams were the first from the Northwest Conference to participate in the NAIA football playoffs.

His 1956 team started "The Streak" of consecutive winning seasons that continues to this day as the national record at all levels of college football.

Durham was inducted into six athletics Halls of Fame, including the Linfield Athletics, (1998, charter class); Portland Interscholastic League (2001); Oregon Sports, 1989; NAIA Football, 1969; Helms Foundation and University of Hawaii Circle of Honor (both 1997). He has been nominated for the national College Football Hall of Fame.

In 1961 he was Oregon ‘Man of the Year’ and in 1962 the NAIA football ‘Coach of the Year.’

In the season-opening game of 1967, Durham took the football Wildcats to Honolulu, where they upset the University of Hawaii, 15-13, at rainy Honolulu Stadium before a Honolulu Stadium crowd of about 20,000 - still the most ever to see a Linfield game.

Hawaii was so impressed with Durham and the Wildcats that it hired him away from Linfield in 1968 to direct its athletic program.

Durham was a Renaissance man.

Not only did he coach and teach (he taught health classes in addition to the life lessons he imparted on the football field) at Linfield, Durham read widely, sang in choirs and as a soloist, was an accomplished formal speaker, a wonderful story and joke teller with a deep, booming voice.

Raising a family in McMinnville on a small-college coach's salary was a challenge, so Durham augmented his income in other ways.

During summers -- in addition to teaching classes at Linfield -- he ran the McMinnville city recreation program - overseeing activities in the city park during the day and softball games at night.

And, he was sports editor of the McMinnville News-Register newspaper. He also wrote a popular sports column, "Dodging with Durham.”

He was paid to sing popular hymns such as “How Great Thou Art” at funerals in McMinnville.

He was chosen First Citizen of McMinnville by the Chamber of Commerce and was elected president of the Linfield Alumni Association and honored as Alumnus of the Year.

Born in 1913 in Portland, where he was raised, he died at age 92 in Honolulu in 2007.

There’s more.

Here’s the story -- engraved on one of the tablets accompanying the Paul Durham statue/monument on the Linfield campus next to HHPA -- to look into his soul:

“Long before racial sensitivity became a national issue, (Paul) Durham judged his athletes by the strength of their character without regard to race or religion.

“He made a strong unpublicized statement for human and civil rights during the Champion Bowl in Augusta, Georgia, in December of 1965. When a hotel official wanted to serve the Black and Hawaiian members of the team in the kitchen at the banquet following the game, Durham advised the restaurant manager the entire team would eat in the kitchen.
“When the manager said there was not enough room to feed the team in the kitchen, the team stayed in the dining room but there was no food served at the Linfield tables.

“As a result of this incident and his personal lobbying efforts, the 1966 NAIA championship game was moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Such was the profound influence of a man whose memory is still alive in the hearts, minds, and actions of those he touched during his distinguished career and extraordinary life. One of life’s blessings was to be a friend of Paul Durham. He was a beacon of light in the darkest of times.”
Paul Durham was more than a football coach. He was an extraordinary person. A talented Linfield student, including in athletics and music, his successes after graduating from Linfield are storied. He was a respected community leader in McMinnville with a positive national reputation which enhanced Linfield. His teaching skills and leadership of Linfield teams and athletics and impact on all of those with whom he had contact, including players he coached, were beyond compare. 

For all the good Paul Durham did and for his undeniable positive impact on Linfield, Linfield Athletics, McMinnville and more, the Linfield Board of Trustees doesn’t think it was enough. 

Twice, most recently in 2014, the trustees were asked by alumni to name HHPA for Paul Durham. Twice the board said, “no.”
In the aftermath of the Linfield Trustees saying no in 2014, friends raised funds and had the aforementioned Paul Durham statue/monument created and installed next to Linfield Avenue between HHPA and the Linfield Aquatic Center. It was dedicated in 2014.

In concert with that, to placate some, Durham’s name went on the front of HHPA to indicate the lobby and foyer inside HHPA are named for him.

(The Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame and Hall of Champions are housed within the Paul Durham Lobby and Foyer.)

But, don’t be misled. It’s what’s inside HHPA/Health, Human Performance and Athletics building that’s named for him, not the building itself.

In summary, Paul Durham’s name is on the building and inside the building. But, the building is not, as it should be, named for him.

Read more about Paul Durham here:


=Although not athletic facilities, Lever and Brumback Streets on the Linfield campus memorialize former coaches. Lever Street is for Henry Lever, longtime Linfield coach and athletic director. Brumback Street is for Arthur M. Brumback, a former president and the college’s first football coach.

=HHPA was to be named for Kenneth W. Ford (1908-1997) of Oregon. As it turned out, it is not. Instead, another building on campus -- Kenneth W. Ford Hall, home of Marshall Theatre at Linfield – bears his name. According to The Ford Family Foundation website, Ford “pursued a vision with a single sawmill in the southern Oregon community of Roseburg. From his tenacity grew Roseburg Forest Products Co., one of the largest, family-owned wood products.”

=PHOTOS: Linfield Archives, Wildcatville, Oregonian, McMinnville News-Register.


HHPA over the years

1989 –In June 1989, Linfield’s new Health, Human Performance and Athletics (HHPA) building opens. On June 17, 1989, it is host of Oregon boys’ high school all-star basketball games.

1989 – On Nov. 4, 1989, HHPA dedicated. During dedication, it’s announced gymnasium is named for Ted Wilson, a Linfield men’s basketball coach.

1991 – On Oct. 19, 1991, HPPA’s fitness center dedicated for Hal Smith, a Linfield track & field, cross-country, wrestling coach and p.e. dept. chair.

1998 – On Oct. 17, 1998, Paul Durham among six members of first “class” enshrined in new Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame.

2006 (guesstimate) – Linfield Board of Trustees say “no” to naming HHPA for Paul Durham.

2007 – On June 22, 2007, Paul Durham dies at age. Born Oct, 18, 1913 and a 1936 Linfield grad, he was a Linfield coach (football, basketball, golf), administrator (athletics) and faculty member (health and p.e.), 1948-1968.

2014 – On April 14, 2014, Linfield Board of Trustees -- via Dave Haugeberg, board chair -- say “no” to naming HHPA for Paul Durham.

2014 – In June 2014, Paul Durham signage added to HHPA building exterior.

2014 – On Oct. 18, 2014 -- 101st anniversary of Paul Durham’s birth -- Paul Durham statue/monument, funded by his Linfield players and friends, unveiled/dedicated on Linfield campus outside near HHPA. Event took place during Linfield Homecoming, before a Wildcats football game.

2019 – In June 2019, HHPA is now 30 years old. It has been 30 years since HHPA opened and it’s still not named for Paul Durham.