Leo Adler Parkway honors Baker's benefactor

January 11, 2002 12:00 am
Baker City and its citizens are working to preserve the legacy of Leo Adler by establishing a river corridor parkway in his honor. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).
Baker City and its citizens are working to preserve the legacy of Leo Adler by establishing a river corridor parkway in his honor. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).

A paved path following the Powder River as it winds its way through Baker City is dedicated to a confirmed bachelor who built a magazine empire and then left his fortune to the community.

The first phase of the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway, about 1.2 miles of paved trail, begins at the Baker County Public Library and Geiser Pollman Park and travels north across Campbell Street to Kirkway. There, the path splits and takes walkers, bikers and skaters either west to the Baker Sports Complex or continues north to Hughes Lane.

More amenities, such as benches, shrubs and flowers, will be added along the path this summer, according to Tabor Clarke, who has led a committee overseeing the parkway's development.

The city also plans to begin more work on the actual path during the summer of 2001, Clarke said.

The next step will be to pave the portion that travels through a two-acre parcel between Washington and Valley avenues south to Bridge Street.

A public park is being considered for the land.

Depending on the success of grant applications, work also could begin in summer 2001 on the next phase of the path, Clarke said.

It will travel from Wade Williams Elks Memorial Park north to Bridge Street.

The parkway honors Leo Adler, who supported community projects during his lifetime and has continued to do so through his legacy since his death in 1993.

Adler was born June 21, 1895, in Baker City and began his career as a 9-year-old, selling magazines. He kept selling magazines for 72 years, retiring in October 1977. He developed a seven-state business empire with 2,000 magazine outlets selling more than 3 million magazines a year.

He died Nov 2, 1993, at St. Elizabeth Hospital at the age of 98.

Adler grew up in Baker City along with his brother, Sanford, who eventually became Baker City's postmaster; and sister, Teresa, who was a teacher.

His father, Carl, operated a Baker City jewelry and music business for about 30 years.

He was born in a house at Fifth Street and Washington Avenue and moved to his longtime home at 2305 Main St. when he was 5.

Adler's will left the historic home, built in 1890, to the Oregon Trail Regional Museum. It was restored and is open for public tours as the Leo Adler House.

Adler also left the bulk of his $20 million estate to support the Leo Adler Community Fund, which awards annual scholarships to graduates of Baker County and Powder Valley high schools, and the Leo Adler Foundation, which supports community projects such as the parkway.

The foundation has contributed $132,500 to the project in four separate occasions since 1995.

Other private funding has come from the Oregon Community Foundation, the Meyer Memorial Trust, US Bank, the Ford Family Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.

Those contributions have combined with public funding for a total of $1.5 million toward financing the project.