By MIKE FERGUSON
Of the Baker City Herald
For dreaming the dream more than 30 years ago, Peggi Timm was afforded the honor Thursday evening of smashing the bottle of sparkling cider that officially christened the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway.
Great cities big and small pay attention to the river that runs through them, Baker County Commission Chairman Brian Cole said. Peggi had the idea that was just a little ahead of its time.
A large crowd gathered at Geiser Pollman Park to wolf down hot dogs and celebrate with neighbors and friends the first-ever community celebration of Baker Countys biggest benefactor.
Later most of the crowd walked the parkway to the Baker Sports Complex, taking in youth baseball and softball games and snacking on pies provided by area churches and businesses.
During the dedication ceremony, Cole chronicled the $1.507 million worth of grants both public and private that funded construction of the parkway.
It takes one person who wont take no for an answer, Cole said, noting that in this case that man was Tabor Clarke.
I just hope this small project honors Leo in a way thats fitting, Clarke said.
Also speaking at the brief ceremony was Norm Kolb of Ontario, Adlers long-time accountant.
Its my job, he said, to capsulize 106 years in 10 minutes.
Who was Leo? Kolb asked, and then he answered his own question. Leo it was never Mr. Adler wasnt physically imposing. He was just 5-feet-2 or 3, Kolb said, although DMV records from the early-1980s (which allow the license holder to state his own height) pegged him at 5-feet-6.
And he could not be taken as a poster boy for Weight Watchers, his friend said, smiling.
Adler was a living contradiction, Kolb said. He got a good education at Baker High School, graduating in 1913, and received no more formal training after that. Yet his foundation has funded thousands of higher education and technical training scholarships worth millions of dollars since his death in 1993.
He never ran for public office, and yet he counted among his friends U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and U.S. Sens. Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood.
When Adler wasnt selling magazines, Kolb said, he was caddying at the old Fireside Hill golf course with Sally Stanford, who would one day make her mark as what Kolb charitably called a San Francisco entrepreneur and later the mayor of Sausalito.
Thursdays celebration baseball, hot dogs and apple pie is just as Leo would have liked it, Kolb said. And the parkway that bears his name is the perfect way to honor the gift to the community he loved.
Theres no doubt in our minds that Leo would have been very happy with this asset, he said.