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An Inspiration at Any Age!

-Marilyn Clint, PRFF Chief Operating Officer

I get to meet and work with the most wonderful people at the Rose Festival. For 15 years I've been privileged to know Gil Frey, one of the recipients of the 2011 Spirit of Portland Awards. Gil is one of the passionate volunteers who has worked to save the Memorial Coliseum, which last year was christened the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, due in great part to his efforts.

On Sunday sister Charlie and I were fortunate enough to be among the many guests celebrating Gil's 80th birthday, as well as his 60th wedding anniversary with wife, Joyce.

Gil's party

Gil has gained the respect of the folks on the City Council for his tenacious lobbying for the Coliseum, which has never been mean-spirited or self-serving. There aren't too many weeks that go by without a call from Gil to keep me updated on his efforts. He knows how important it is to the Rose Festival that our signature event, the Spirit Mountain Casino Grand Floral Parade, continues to make its way through the indoor arena (described here), as it has since 1961!

Gil and me

Back in 2002, after the horrible events of 9/11, Gil worked with me to provide a very special memorial moment inside the arena prior to the start of the parade. That was the year Oregon's Katie Harmon was Miss America, and she sang the National Anthem as veterans representing all the branches of service stood in salute. I'll never forget the resonating voice of Rose Festival President Eldon Tichenor as he asked all the veterans in the audience to stand, and the way it felt to watch nearly a third of the thousands of parade guests get out of their seats!

Happy Birthday, Gil. Thank you for your years of tireless efforts on behalf of Portland and your veteran brothers and sisters!