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Jeb Bladine: Telling stories just part of the package

Grizzlies and Wildcats will mingle and reminisce at a Jan. 7 memorial service for Perry Stubberfield, and the source for many of their stories will be the man they are there to honor.

Perry’s 78 years in McMinnville were those of student-athlete, teacher, coach, administrator and longtime sports raconteur. And yes, Perry would have bristled and said something pretty funny about the notion of being a “raconteur,” preferring the more down-to-earth synonym, teller of tales.

People associated with Linfield College and McMinnville High School sports Hall of Fame programs have long depended on Perry’s memories of the players, teams and coaches from more than a half century of local athletics. He brought those memories to life with personal recollections revealing the most human, most humorous, most memorable qualities of the people and events.

That mantle perhaps falls to another former Grizzly and Wildcat, Ross Peterson, who followed a decade behind in many of Perry’s footsteps after being one of his first students at McMinnville Junior High in 1962-63. That role should be a comfortable assignment for Peterson, already known for his vast recall and deep appreciation of Stubberfield stories and many more.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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“People often talk about what a great coach Perry was,” Peterson said this week, “but I remind them he was the best teacher I ever had.” Back then, freshmen headed up the three-year junior high, and so many of them flocked to Perry’s speech and drama class that they had to dramatically expand the school program.
“Perry,” Peterson said flatly, “was the reason I went into education.”

One story, unconfirmed but believable, recounts some simple, sensible advice Perry received as a new teacher from a veteran McMinnville educator: “Be fair, firm and friendly … it works pretty well around here.”

Of course, it takes more than passing advice to instill such qualities into someone’s life, but those were everyday standards Perry brought to the game … the game of sports, the game of life, and now, the game of remembrance.

I once wrote about the Eastern Oregon “gang of 12” who populated so many McMinnville teaching and coaching positions in the 1950s and ensuing decades. Only one survives today, that being Jerry Sherwood, whom I saw walking down Third Street this week.

People who picture that group gathering in the great hereafter will smile at the image of them enjoying tales from their own rich lives as told by newcomer Perry Stubberfield.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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