June 5, 2007

Roger Stack, 1924-2007

Dr. Roger Stack

Physician, involved citizen, creator of Stack Park -- Redmond's only private park that was really public

You will be missed

Stack Park in winter

Longtime Redmond resident Dr. Roger Stack, who built his own park and delivered thousands of babies from the 1950’s through the 1980’s, died on Wednesday, May 30 at the age of 83.

Stack’s most lasting mark on the community is likely to be ‘Stack Park,’ a leafy one-block lot at the intersection of Kingwood Avenue and Canyon Drive. Starting in the early 1980’s, Dr. Stack began improving the empty lot he owned next door to his home. He planted trees and grass and built rock walls. For years, he could be seen mowing the grass every summer, and every fall, he’d spend days and sometimes weeks cleaning up the fallen leaves. During the holidays, Dr. Stack would unravel yards and yards of Christmas lights and string them throughout “his park.”

With his passing, the land will be donated to the city of Redmond. His son, Mike Stark, said the only condition is that the park remains much the same – full of trees, and available to the public for weddings and other events.

Mayor Alan Unger, who’s father worked for years alongside Dr. Stack at Redmond’s Cascade Medical Clinic, said Dr. Stack will be missed, and that the city is honored to take over as stewards of the park he built.

“This is a magnanimous gift to the city, for an individual to look at the community as opposed to looking at just making money,” Unger said. “It could turn into houses if the Stacks wanted it to, but no, they care more about the community and want to save this to be a sort of legacy place, Stack Park, and continue the usage that it has today.”

Born in Marshfield, Ore., on Jan. 14, 1924, Stack grew up well aware of how his father had never achieved his dream of becoming a physician. Stack boldly announced his plans to become a doctor in his high school yearbook, and he, his brother Richard, and his cousin Tom all lived out the elder Stack’s dream.

With World War II on the rise when he graduated high school, doctors were in demand, and Stack was exempted from the draft and rushed through college and medical school. Interviewed in the Spokesman in 1997, he said it was while studying medicine at Oregon State UniversityOregon Coast, he’d only known fir trees, he said, but the OSU campus was covered with massive oaks and maples that changed colors with the season. that Stack developed his love for trees. Growing up on the

Stack’s training forced him to miss the Second World War, but when the Korean War broke out, he jumped at the chance to serve. Assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, he was a tentmate with a young man named H. Richard Hornberger, who wrote a book that was made into a movie that was made into a television show that elevated the phrase “M*A*S*H” from military jargon to popular culture.

The book, the movie, and the show were all pretty true to life, Stack said, though he insisted none of the characters were modeled after him.

Upon his discharge in 1953, Stack came to Redmond to open his own doctor’s office. Six years later he was married to “MeMeDwyer. They were married for nearly 45 years and had four children prior to her death in August 2004. Stack is survived by his three sons, Mike of West Linn, Ore., Dan of Redmond, Ore., Sean of Zurich, Switz., and his daughter, Molly Stack of Portland. He had six grandchildren.

Dr. Stack’s interest in beautifying his hometown went beyond his self-built park. He planted the first street trees in downtown Redmond along Fifth and Sixth streets, and helped start the Budding Society, a group that installed the first landscaping in the islands in the middle of Highway 97 at the north and south Y. The club, now known as the Redmond Garden Club, continues to maintain the islands to this day. Along with his fellow members of the Rotary Club – he was an active member for 39 years – Stack cleared the brush from the triangle-shaped patch of land just east of Fred Meyer, turning the area into an informal grassy park.

Dana Sorum, who knew Dr. Stack for nearly 50 years through their involvement in Rotary, said he remembers his friend as a modest man who was proud of his achievements but avoided boasting.

“Plants, trees – Roger had a hand in it,” he said.

Mike Stack said his father was impressed by Redmond’s growth over the years, and never succumbed to the temptation to yearn for the good old days.

“We’d drive around and he’d say ‘man, look at that, you know whose farm that used to be?’ Because he used to make house calls as a doctor, he’d say ‘this used to be so and so’s farm.’ He was not upset there were houses built there, he kinda liked that change,” Mike said. “Some of those houses across the canyon from us, over by the Catholic Church, one of the things he said he like about ‘em was that he said the builder at least had enough sense to change the style of the outside so when you’re driving by they don’t look all cookie-cutter. He liked those people in developments that thought about what they were doing.”

Despite fighting Parkinson’s over the last few years, Dr. Stack stayed fairly active until recently, Mike said. Up until January, when he was admitted to the hospital for the first of a series of visits, he would go out for breakfast every Monday with “The Old Farts Club,” a group of longtime Redmond residents.

For a man who spent much of his life around sick people, Dr. Stack was generally healthy. Mike said his father marveled at the fact he’d only had the flu four times in his lifetime, and until this year, he’d only been to the hospital as a patient twice – once for kidney stones, and once for a broken finger sustained in a backyard football game with his sons.

“He said ‘I wasn’t sick most of my life, it’s catching up on me.’ That’s just the way the cards are dealt,” Mike Stack said. “Some people who get Parkinson’s or another degenerative disease like that they become bitter, but he never was like that.”

A funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, June 7 at St Thomas Catholic Church in Redmond at 11:00 a.m. Dr. Stack will be buried at Redmond Memorial Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Redmond Garden Club.

-- by Scott Hammers


Anonymous said...

Front page for a true Redmond Icon...thank you! SH

Twitch said...

Thanks to Dr. Stack, I have a perfect location for my dream Wedding this June (2009). Thank you!