By Kirby Neumann-Rea • Of the News-Register • 

Back, and forth: Relishing a well-worn pattern of crossing paths

In April, I rambled on about what I call “crossing paths.” I was referring to surprise or chance encounters, faces from the past, or kindred associates unexpectedly passing into, through or alongside one’s life.

In my case, my past times living in McMinnville and other associations with this community find repeated connections to my 21 years in Hood River — as well as other towns I have lived in or known.

These encounters seem to fit a pattern, and they played out during a weekend visit paid to Hood River on June 4-5. Indeed, it was a double dose of crossing paths: At a downtown tap room, I ran into friend Steven Curley having a beer with friend Brad Gearhart.

Some of you might recognize Brad as the owner of Jacob Williams Winery. It’s located just a few miles up the Columbia from Hood River.

But Jacob Williams also has a tasting room on Third Street in McMinnville. It was a pleasure to meet Brad and let him know how much we’ve enjoyed his McMinnville wine bar.

Add to that, Steven mentioned he had recently purchased a motorcycle from another McMinnville business owner I happen to know — one that’s also in the fermentation field.

This encounter amounts to two more intersections in a long list I’ve experienced since moving to McMinnville in April 2021. There have been many.

Maybe the best such encounter was with Joe Pearson, pastor at Praise Church, at a recent Chamber Greeters event. I recognized Joe, a classmate from South Albany High School, Class of 1976, even though we’d not seen each other in 46 years.

Then there was my encounter with Linfield Director of Athletics Garry Kilgore, SAHS Class of 1978, whom I wrote of in the April “crossing paths” as well.

Others I have not mentioned include Kevin and Becky Simpson of McMinnville, who lived in Hood River County in the early 1990s, a decade or so before I moved there.

They were friends of a family I knew. Becky worked as their nanny, which involved taking care of Zak Taylor, now around 30.

Zak was a high school job shadow of mine from about 2005.

I loved learning that John Buchner worked on the staff of this newspaper in the early 1960s. That means he wasn’t that much farther along in his career when, in 1978, as editor of the Albany Democrat-Herald (D-H), he hired me to write columns while I spent my junior year of college in Tel Aviv.

John and my father were good friends, which is probably how I got the chutzpah to approach John in the first place.

This is the natural place to mention that I have two “past-lives” connections with two reporters I very much enjoy working with today:

I briefly knew Paul Daquilante when he was a reporter with the D-H. I was in high school at the time and would see him at events.

Also, Starla Pointer (Linfield Class of 1982) served with me on the old Linews campus newspaper, now The Review, at Linfield. My recollection of the ever-gracious Starla was that she was somewhat irritated by her loud-mouthed co-worker — at least the 1970s version.

Mark Lago, Yamhill County public works director, and Travis Pease, newly-hired parks manager, both took phone calls from me when they were employed by Hood River city public works. Pinch-hitting on sports, I think I also interviewed Mark in connection with his soccer coach role.

Other links and encounters have cropped up, including unsurprising but fun ones such as brewers in both towns who know each other well. It’s been fun getting to know McMinnville’s Charlie Van Meter again, 10 years after meeting him when he was a brewer at Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, then located near Hood River.
A few months back my wife and I had a chance encounter with Scott and Sonja Caul of McMinnville, whom we had never met. We learned they had known my brother, Joel, for about 25 years in Corvallis.

Todd Caster of McMinnville looked me up not long after I arrived in Mac to say that he was a childhood friend — as in they went to preschool together in Ashland — with my high school journalism adviser, Jan Bateman.

Others include the daughter of a couple I knew well in Hood River, and a guy who told me, after seeing my April column, that he had lived in Hood River as a kid. As I traded notes with him, I learned his nephew is a guy I used to play basketball with in Hood River.

Also, there is Sean Patterson of George Fox University’s public affairs office, whom I hired as sports writer around 1986. We worked together for a year or so at the Polk County Itemizer-Observer.

A nexus of sorts arose between my childhood on the east side of Seattle and later years spent in Port Townsend:

Danny, younger brother of John, my friend since age 8, was once a co-worker of Peter, whom I got to know in Port Townsend. I looked up Peter at his office in Seattle around 2010, and when Peter introduced me to Danny, we put two-and-two together.

A business owner I got to know in Port Townsend had, 20 years earlier, lived on the same kibbutz in Israel where I spent three months in 1984.

Eric Hidle, a high school intern in Hood River around 2005, went on to take a newspaper job in Port Townsend that I had held from 1990-98 with the Peninsula Daily News.

Eric was there for about four years. He got to be cycling partners with Rick Sepler, once a friend and co-worker of my wife’s.

Eric has long since moved on, and I have fallen out of touch with him. But who knows? Half the fun of crossing paths is the second or third time it happens.

Contact Kirby Neumann-Rea at or 503-687-1291.


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