This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 15, 2012 9:50 AM. The previous post in this blog was Nurse Amanda's last year. The next post in this blog is Metro vs. Troutdale. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

He was there

Several of our readers have alerted us this week to the death of Ron Abell. Abell was an important figure on the Oregon journalistic, political, and literary scenes for many years. He also founded a half-serious "society" opposed to population growth in the state. His heyday was 30 to 40 years ago, a little before we arrived in Portland. As a result, we have no firsthand experiences with him to relay. But based on the comments that are being made on his passing, we wish we had paid more attention to him.

Richard Meeker, publisher of Willamette Week, remembers Abell today, here. David Sarasohn of the O posted this last night. The obituary in the O is here. Our condolences to the bereaved.

Comments (5)

I met Ron Abell once, back when I still lived there. He was one of the people who gave you an idea of what Portland used to be before the developers and hipsters descended, and what it could be again. I'm definitely going to miss him.

Slight correction: He revived, rather than founded, the James G. Blaine Society in Oregon. Small difference.

None of the obits includes Ron’s brief stint teaching journalism at Lewis & Clark in the early ‘70s. I took the class, which mostly consisted of Ron telling stories and commenting on articles we wrote for the college rag, the Pioneer Log. My mom, who was Morse’s secretary for the last few years of his life, knew Ron, too. Just pulled my copy of Tap City off the bookshelf, and the back inside flap says he was a “college teacher.” He was quite a guy.

Abell did not drink much, and he hated the smoke he generated, as well as he hated giving smokes to those who would not buy their own. He counted his smokes by counting matches. He drank coffee. One time at the Goose, tired of swapping negative stories, he suggested we make a list of things which were getting better. I came up with the abolition of legal sized 13 inch paper; I forget what his contribution was, but it was short, and it took several minutes. He often spoke about his brothers, and his book, and his work, and his preference for manual typewriters. I never met his lady, but I know she was a good one.

Ron gave me my first low-paying job working for the Northwest Review at the UO while I was a J-School student, and remained a good friend during our many shared political activities throughout the next four decades. We ran into him at Lake Tahoe back in the 60's, where he admitted that he was there to gamble (surprise) and continued to do so here with long-time low-limit poker buddies who should speak up if they're still alive!

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