Watzek Awards honor Oregon’s finest

Watzek Awards honor Oregon’s finest

Aubrey R Watzek was an attorney, a lumber executive, and a model citizen. He shaped Oregon through generous contributions to many causes, including education, the environment, and the arts. Lewis & Clark College annually presents the Aubrey R. Watzek Awards to Oregonians who have similarly enriched the state and the lives of its people.


On June 6, President Michael Mooney presented this year’s awards to Brian Booth, Joan Strong Buell, Rev. Michael Maslowsky, James Rudd, and William Swindells.


“Our recipients have built institutions; created wealth and collected it for good causes; recognized the glories of our citizens both in times of greatness and need; spoken for those who have no voice; and laced together the young and the old, the powerful and the weak in a common enterprise called humanity,” Mooney said. “Oregon would not be what it is today without these people.” 


Brian Booth is a fourth-generation Oregonian dedicated to the preservation of the state’s public lands and literature. He is a founding partner of the Tonkon Torp law firm and is listed in the first and all subsequent editions of The Best Lawyers in America. In the 1970s, Booth was president of the board of trustees of the Portland Art Museum. He later created the Oregon Institute of Literary Arts and started the Oregon Book Awards to honor works of merit by Oregon authors. Later, he founded the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission to celebrate the state’s literary and cultural heritage. From 1989 to 1997, Booth served as the first chair of the Oregon Parks Commission, where he developed stable funding and public support for the parks system.


Joan Strong Buell is a pioneer in end-of-life care. In the early 1980s, after serving as a volunteer nurse assistant at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London and directing volunteers at Portland’s Visiting Nurse Association Hospice Team, Buell cofounded and incorporated the first self-supporting hospice center in the Northwest. As executive director of Hospice House, now Hope-well House, she assisted in writing Oregon’s standards for hospice care and helped people prepare for their deaths or those of loved ones. She continues to work at Hopewell House as an on-call bereavement counselor, maintains a private practice, and leads workshops related to hospice care. In the 1960s, Buell founded the Beginning School at Catlin Gabel School, a private K-12 school in Portland.


Rev. Michael Maslowsky brings together people of all ages through residential, faith-centered experiences. In 1981, Maslowsky earned a juris doctorate at Lewis & Clark Law School. He later joined the priesthood and, in 1993, became pastor of Portland’s St. Anthony Parish, a deteriorating facility that the Catholic Church wished to close. Instead of shutting its doors, Maslowsky transformed the parish into St. Anthony Village, now a national model of multigenerational low-income housing. The village includes care facilities for senior adults, a day-care center, and a parish. As the president of St. Anthony Village Enterprises, Services for All Generations Enterprises, and Faith Enhanced Development Enterprises, Maslowsky develops communities similar to St. Anthony Village, manages their operation, and guides others in adopting the village model.


James Rudd is one of Oregon’s most successful volunteer fund-raisers. The chief executive officer and principal at Ferguson Wellman Capital management, Rudd balances his corporate responsibilities with a commitment to community. He has played a leadership role in organizations such as the Oregon Independent College foundation, Portland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and United Way of the Columbia Willamette. In 2000, he chaired the United Way’s annual campaign, raising a record-breaking $21 million for its affiliated programs. Currently, Rudd chairs Oregon Health & Science University’s $300-million campaign, called the Oregon Opportunity. He is also president of the Arlington Club’s board of directors.


William Swindells is a corporate citizen who has contributed quietly to Oregon, much as Watzek did. As chief executive officer of Willamette Industries from 1981 to 1995, he led the company to triple its annual sales. Swindells made sustainable forestry a reality at Willamette, developing practices that set the standard for forest stewardship throughout the industry. He chaired the board of directors of Willamette from 1985 until 2002, when Weyerhaeuser Company purchased the company. In addition, Swindells guides cultural, environmental, and educational organizations in Oregon, and he has served on the boards of groups including the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation. Currently, he is a member of the board of trustees at Willamette University and at Oregon Health & Science University, and chairs the board of Oregon Steel Mills.


The Watzek Awards jury, chaired by Mary V. Bishop, included Joan Austin, L. Martin Brantley, Sue Fields, Gerry Frank, John Jaqua, Fred Jubitz, Michael Mooney, Marilyn Pamplin, and Doug Strain.


—by Jennifer Carter