Marcus Larson/News-Register ## Harold Washington sits near the MV Advancements building. The nonprofit is one of the organizations he’s helped over many years of quietly contributing to the community.
Marcus Larson/News-Register ## Harold Washington sits near the MV Advancements building. The nonprofit is one of the organizations he’s helped over many years of quietly contributing to the community.
Submitted photo ##
Harold and Christine Washington walk on the beach in Brookings during Labor Day weekend 2020. He calls her his “girlfriend,” although they’ve been married 42 years and together since junior high school.
Submitted photo ## Harold and Christine Washington walk on the beach in Brookings during Labor Day weekend 2020. He calls her his “girlfriend,” although they’ve been married 42 years and together since junior high school.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Stopping by: In good company

Honored for civic work, Harold Washington says he can’t take all the credit

Harold Washington prefers to be known by the company he keeps.

“My dad said if you want to be a good person, then be around good people. It’s all about association,” he said. “I wanted to be good, so I associated with good people.”

There are plenty of those in McMinnville, he said, recalling residents he admired as a young man and later was proud to call friends.

“I was in awe watching people like Glen Macy, Waldo Farnham, Jeb Bladine, Steve and Scott Macy, Chuck Van Otten, Ron Davison, so many others,” Washington said.

He said he is humbled and surprised to share an honor many of those people received earlier: McMinnville’s Man of the Year in the annual Distinguished Service Awards. 

“A lot of people could take that honor. That’s the bottom line,” Washington said. “A lot of people have done far more than I have.”

And he doesn’t consider this year’s award is his alone. 

“I’m not who I am today without my lovely bride,” Christine (Feibel) Washington, he said. “I’m so blessed.”

When he learned he was being named Man of the Year, he told his wife, “this is an honor for me and for you.” She, in turn, said it was he who deserved it.

The Washingtons celebrated 42 years of marriage July 29. They met in ninth-grade at the old junior high school, now the site of the Dollar Tree shopping center.

She cheered when he played football for the Grizzlies. They “dragged the gut” downtown — a cherished memory for Harold, who describes himself as a “car fanatic” who treasures the 1963 Volkswagen Bug his wife’s parents gave her and his own maroon-and-black 1967 Cougar, a model he’d wanted since he first saw its sequential turn signal.

Harold and Christine graduated from Mac High in 1977 and married the following year.

“My wife and I are a team,” he said. “She’s been my girlfriend for 47 years.”

He still uses the term “girlfriend,” he said, because “I spent time and effort courting her. Why does that have to stop?”

They raised two daughters, Adele, who lives in Portland, and Christine, who is the German teacher at McMinnville High School. Christine now has a daughter, Christine, 13, and a son, Ethan, 10. 

Washington’s mother-in-law also was named Christine.

When he and his wife were still dating, Washington considered attending law school. He continued his education, but went a different route, joining his father, Raymond, in the roofing business.

It was a three-way partnership with his father and his mother Joyce.

“Dad would have been tickled to have my two brothers in the business, too,” he said.

In addition to the brothers, Charles, who lives in Portland, and his late brother Alford, he also has three sisters, Linda McGrew of Dayton, Delores Diesel of Newberg and Joyce Orlebeke of Idaho.

Washington, who was always close to his parents, bought the business from them in 1986.

He moved the office from Lafayette to McMinnville. Washington Roofing was located on Lafayette Avenue for many years, and now is headquartered just southwest of the city on Highway 18.

He’s retired from roofing, a job he enjoyed because, in part, as his dad joked, “people always look up to you.” 

But he’s busier than ever as a property owner — he and his partners recently built Falcon Suites, an office complex between Adams and Baker and Fifth and Sixth street — and as a community volunteer.

Although he was born in Plainview, Texas, Washington has lived in Oregon most of his life. His family moved to the Carlton area when he was a child, then to McMinnville when he was in elementary school. 

This is truly home, he said.

He and his wife adore McMinnville. While they enjoy riding their motorcycles across the Western U.S. and traveling abroad — to Germany, Italy, Austria, Cuba, Greece and other countries — they’re always happy to return. 

“We’re just blessed to live where we live, to have the children we have, to have the family and friends we have,” Washington said. “We’re blessed to be part of this community.”

In trying times, he said, “my family and my friends get me through it.”

In good times, he said, “what gets us through is being able to help others.” 

He and Christine are members of St. James Catholic Church. She asked him to accompany her to church when they started dating, and after they married, he was baptized as a Catholic.

“I’ve seen people do things at St. James that are just great,” he said.

While he’s happy to be a community servant, Washington said he’s never tried to seek publicity for his good deeds. He recalled advice from his father-in-law, Emil Feibel. “Too often people give for what’s in it for them,” Feibel told him. “You don’t do something with the idea you’re going to get an award.”

Those who seek glory “don’t go far,” his father-in-law said, advising him to ask himself, “is this just out of the goodness of your heart?”

When it comes to others receiving the credit, though, Washington is all for it. Yet he said he knows many in McMinnville whose good deeds have gone unmentioned.

He thinks of the people who secured McMinnville’s water source decades ago. “Thank God our forefathers had the foresight,” he said. “That’s a gift that keeps giving.”

His own contributions grew from the advice of his father and father-in-law, and continued when his friend Van Otten invited him to join the McMinnville Jaycees. 

Washington said the young people’s service organization offers leadership opportunities and community events, including the DSA banquet and fishing derby, as well as family activities.

He spent happy years working on the Jaycees’ annual fireworks display, spearheaded by Van Otten.

“The Jaycees were a big influence,” Washington said. “They led me to know and get to work with good people. Like my dad said, association.”

Over the years, Washington became involved in all sorts of community service, including joining the St. James Cemetery Board; the committee of the original McMinnville Food & Wine Festival; the board of the Yamhill County Gospel Rescue Mission, for which he also helped add a new building; and the board of First Federal, a local bank.

“Talk about a company that gives to the community in a major way!” he said.

Washington said he is impressed by the way First Federal supports its employees’ giving, for one thing. It allows them paid time for volunteering in the community. The company also awards grants to nonprofit organizations and events — he is on the grant committee.

He said he was invited to join the bank’s board by then-president Rocky Wade. It gave him a chance to work alongside more good people, such as Tony Meeker.

“Association,” he repeated, recalling his father’s advice.

Being on the bank board also gave him a chance to give back somewhat to the lenders who made it possible for him to buy his first house. He worked with Randy Hartzell to secure the loan.

“It’s good to go back and see a company take care of its employees and the community,” he said.

Washington has helped MV Advancements, as well, and been deeply involved with Habitat for Humanity of McMinnville since the 1990s.

The Rev. Bernie Turner, president of Habitat, asked him to roof the first Habitat house in West McMinnville. After the project was finished, Turner requested the bill. “I never sent it,” Washington said.

Since then, he and Washington Roofing have roofed each subsequent Habitat house, appreciating how future Habitat owners put in sweat equity and work alongside volunteers to complete them.

“I like helping people who are helping themselves,” he said. “If people are willing to help themselves, it’s easy to help them, too.”

Washington said he enjoys learning from others.

“In McMinnville, you don’t have to go far to find someone you can learn from,” he said. “It’s amazing to me how many good people we have right here.”

He mentioned how often he sees local business people giving freely to support the community — Waldo Farnham using his manlift to help put up decorations, Peter Kircher of Golden Valley donating beverages, among others.

When he was helping with the annual auction at St. James, Washington said, he appreciated how many businesses gave every year. “They almost look forward to seeing me coming, asking for donations,” he said.

Because of all that, he said, he is a steadfast supporter of shopping locally. His “buy local” attitude dates back at least to the moment he purchased Christine’s engagement ring at Timmreck & McNicol.

“It’s tough for me to leave town to buy something,” said Washington,

After all, he said, “it takes us all, not just one company or one person,” he said. “All of us.”

Starla Pointer, who believes everyone has an interesting story to tell, has been writing the weekly “Stopping By” column since 1996. She’s always looking for suggestions. Contact her at 503-687-1263 or



We are blessed to have people like Harold and Christine in our community! Thank you both! Great article Starla..


Thank you Harold and Christine for making Mac a better place to live.

And thanks to Starla for another excellent article introducing us to the unsung heroes of Yamhill County.

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable