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In Memoriam

February 05, 2009


Clifford Comisky J.D. ’40, February 16, age 91. He attended the law school’s evening program and passed the Oregon bar in 1940. Comisky began his career as a police officer in Portland and was a Multnomah County assistant district attorney for two years. In 1947 he joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers legal staff. He worked there for 32 years and was named Federal Man of the Year for Oregon in 1958. After retiring to Cannon Beach, he served as a municipal court judge for 10 years. Comisky always found time for professional, charitable, fraternal, civic, and religious activities, both in Portland and at the coast.

George Palmer B.A. ’40, February 11, age 95. Palmer was born and raised in Idaho and earned a degree from Cascade College before attending Lewis & Clark. He taught business, economics, and sociology while serving as business manager at Cascade College from 1938 until 1957. He was business manager for an architectural firm from 1957 to 1960, then joined Far West Federal Savings in 1960, retiring as assistant vice president in the loan department in 1976. Palmer enjoyed softball, golf, badminton, racquetball, and photography and was active as a recorded minister in the Friends Church.

Marguerite Ordway Nicholson B.A. ’46, March 13, age 88, of complications from a stroke. She and her husband, Rev. John Nicholson, were Baptist missionaries after World War II in Japan. They raised their family there and she taught music and he taught English. Her lifelong dedication to music dated to the age of 4, when she learned to play the piano. On furlough from missionary work in Japan, she earned a master’s degree in sacred music at Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1961. In her later years she played and sang in retirement homes, continuing despite health challenges until the end of her life.

Edwin “Ted” Smith B.A. ’48, May 4, age 83. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps in Europe. After the war, he returned to Portland, where he was an expeditor for Topline Equipment. He moved to Centralia, Washington, in 2007.

George William Hudson B.A. ’49, March 29, age 82. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He moved in 1970 to Canby, where he owned Hiway Auto Parts and later sold real estate. He served on the Canby Utility Board.


Eugene Cook B.A. ’50, January 28, age 80. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Oregon and pursued a career in education. He taught in elementary school in the David Douglas School District, became a principal, and retired in 1984. He also found time to coach Tri-County Junior Baseball in Rockwood for six years in the ’60s, leading his teams to the state playoffs each of those years, winning the tournament twice and finishing second twice. In his retirement, Cook continued to mentor new school administrators, played golf, and volunteered in his community and church.

Edward Arndt B.A. ’51, March 2, age 88, of a stroke. During World War II, he served in the Army in Europe and North Africa, winning the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for action during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a longshoreman for the Pacific Maritime Association.

Charles “Bud” Stolte Jr. B.A. ’51, February 6, age 80. He was a fleet salesman for Francis Ford, retiring after 27 years.

Stanley Clark B.A. ’52, April 21, age 78. He was a stockbroker for more than 30 years, first with Foster & Marshall and later with Smith Barney. He and his wife, Patricia Boals Clark B.S. ’52 (now deceased), raised four sons in a farmhouse in Washington and were active in community affairs. He especially loved sailing and sharing sea adventures with his family.

Joan Hill B.A. ’52, April 10, age 77. She was a turkey rancher, a real estate agent and developer, and a charter pilot and had two sons. In 1981 she married John W. Hill.

Dean Alexander Binn B.A. ’54, April 19, age 76. He served in the Army and for 25 years was an account executive for TransAmerica Insurance.

Perry Johnson B.S. ’54, March 25, age 88, in Wasilla, Alaska. He earned a Purple Heart while serving in the Navy during World War II. He was a teacher and a school principal in California and Oregon before moving to Alaska in 1969 to continue his career in educational administration.

John Meves DeKoning B.A. ’56, March 28, age 75, in Palm Springs, California. Born in Australia, DeKoning grew up in Portland and served in the U.S. Air Force. His career spanned 45 years working for the textile companies Jantzen and Wamsutta, and finally owning the Desert Bootery in Palm Springs. After retiring in 1990 he kept busy with computers and photography.

John Dougherty B.S ’58, March 13, age 73. He served in the Navy from 1952 to 1954. After a long career at the Clackamas County Juvenile Department, he retired in 1997 as its assistant director. He enjoyed vacationing at the Oregon coast, cooking, listening to classical music, and collecting Northwest Native American art and literature.

Robert Sells B.A. ’58, March 19, age 81, of Alzheimer’s disease. He served in the Navy during World War II in the Mediterranean. After graduating from Lewis & Clark, Sells worked as a sales representative in the photo finishing industry. In 1965, he and his wife, Clarana, opened K&K Color Lab; they operated it for 25 years. Three of their children continue to own and operate the business in Sellwood. Sells enjoyed hunting, fishing, and gardening.


Earl Martin Benson B.A. ’63, November 26, 2007, age 68. Benson went from singing in the school choir at Jefferson High School to become a pivotal presence in Portland’s coffeehouse/folk scene in the 1960s, where he sang and played autoharp. At the 9th Street Exit coffeehouse, with Steve Bradley and Bill Wyatt, he formed the Sleezy Pieces, one of Portland’s legendary bands of the ’70s. Benson was a prolific songwriter and the band performed over a hundred of his originals. Sleezy Pieces fans will remember Earl, stage left, shades on, cigarette in hand, dancing to the music.

Kathryn Nilles B.A. ’68, January 16, age 61, of cancer. She taught music in elementary schools in the Ashland School District and later devoted her life to raising her children. She loved singing, sunshine, and reading.

Thomas Boyle B.A. ’69, March 12, age 61, of cancer. He worked as a teacher and coach at West Linn High School, and ran the family automotive business for many years before retiring to spend time with family and friends. In 2006, he was inducted into the Lewis & Clark Sports Hall of Fame along with other members of the 1966 football team.


Dennis Henninger J.D. ’70, October 15, 2007, age 68, of cancer. He was a self-employed Lake Oswego personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney. After serving in the U.S. Army in Texas and Korea from 1957 to 1960 Henninger attended Portland State University and then the law school while working for Standard Oil. An active member in Tualatin Rotary, he was named a Paul Harris fellow. He also volunteered with Franciscan Enterprises to rehabilitate homes and with St. Vincent de Paul’s food bank, taught English as a second language at church, and sang in his church choir and the University of Portland Community Choir.

Linda Newman Johannsen B.A. ’72, J.D. ’90, March 11, age 57, of ovarian cancer. She met her husband, Cliff Johannsen B.S. ’71, M.Ed. ’74, on an overseas program to Austria; they were married in 1971 and raised two daughters. After earning her law degree she worked as a bankruptcy attorney. In 2006 Johannsen was honored with an award of merit by the debtor-creditor section of the Oregon State Bar for her work in bankruptcy law. A volunteer with the Cascade AIDS Project and Outside In, she was also an avid reader of mystery novels, enjoyed many kinds of music, liked to travel, and especially loved white-water rafting.

Dana Taylor J.D. ’77, in January, age 57. Taylor was a litigator for Duffy Kekel and a legal champion for children with special needs. He enjoyed photography, exotic travel, sailing, and the company of great friends. He was a member of the law school’s Alumni Board of Directors.

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