Nick C. Vandehey is the 2014 Child Advocacy Hall of Fame Inductee. Nick resided in western Washington county Oregon located in the lush Tualatin Valley. Mr. Vandehey touched the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of children helping guide, mature and sculpt kids in the transition to successful adulthood. Nick worked countless hours volunteering to help his church, the community and time being an excellent father to his children and their goals and future. He was a faithful and loving Husband to his wife Joan whom he met at the Oregon State Fair back in 1973.
The year he met Joan, some very talented tractor drivers showed-up from around Oregon, especially from the Willamette Valley vicinity to try their hand at the statewide tractor driving competition at the state fairgrounds located in Salem. According to the presiding tractor driving contest Judges, not a one of those talented and gifted young men could match Nick in the "mastery-of-the-machine" Nick demonstrated that year ending up the first place blue ribbon winner of not only the tractor driving contest, but the hand and heart of his future wife Joan.
Nick Vandehey was a resident of the Banks and Forest Grove area of Western Tualatin Valley Oregon noteworthy for its lush fertile soil excellent for producing high yield crops. As a youngster in the late 1960's and early 1970's, Nick participated in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) while learning and working summers in the farming trade eventually graduating from Banks High School in 1974.
After high school graduation, Nick went to Oregon State University in Corvallis and studied crop sciences. Nick was active in campus life and came home during the summers to continue his hands on learning of the farming trade. Nick married Joan Reynoldson after three years of courtship at St. Francis Catholic Church in Roy Oregon on December 18, 1976. By his early twenties, Nick started his own farm in Banks, eventually expanding to several acres of strawberries. During this time Nick and Joan had three children, Charlie, Michael and Stephanie.
Banks Oregon is a beautiful place to bicycle with family or call home
Starting as a young teenager, Nick Vandehey gave an overwhelming amount of volunteer time and support to the children in his Washington County communities of Forest Grove and Banks Oregon. Much of Nicks service and participation to his community consisted of vital "behind the scenes" efforts that hugely contributed to athletic, extracurricular and educational development of local children.
Nick served as Assistant Scout Master with troop 581 and gave hundreds of hours to the Forest Grove Future Farmers of American association. Nick skillfully placed the Christmas lights and decorations throughout the Banks community for decades, wired the football fields and welded the soccer goals. Nick Vandehey was a hands-on "get it done right" guy who liked to build and see things completed. This inspirational productive attitude gained Nick a reputation in Banks and Forest Grove as someone you wanted on your project.
While still in his late twenties during the early 1980's, Nick became a highly successful "heavy-hitter" strawberry producer of Western Washington County Oregon with a seasonal employment force of hundreds of local teenagers and a dozen adult supervisors or "field bosses" as they were called by the young employees. Nick and Joan's impressive "berry empire" caught the attention and respect of the community and older established farmers. Hundreds of Banks and Forest Grove area teenage kids first experience with employment and getting paid was with Nick Vandehey.
Going to work for Nick involved a brief meeting where he talked about the expectations, pay rate and an invite to an end of season barbecue at his residence. Everybody was invited but if you stuck it out till the very end of the season when the berries were smaller and it was harder to fill a flat, you were rewarded with a special bonus. This special bonus was special indeed with half of the bonus handed to you during the end of season barbecue. The other half would arrive in the mail some 5 months later in early December when it was especially welcomed.
Nicks entire program taught and introduced children to the "interview" aspect of employment. It taught kids the importance of sticking to it to the end and not quitting when it was not as "fun" or profitable with smaller strawberries to fill the 12 hallecks that made up one flat. The program taught kids about savings and reward for a job well done. Nick was extremely well loved by his young employees, staff and family.
Nick grew up and graduated from Banks High School
As his family grew, Nick needed a more guaranteed income than what the ever uncertain and non-guaranteed income farming provided. Nick tried his hand at various trades and eventually found his calling as a Master Electrical Journeymen with the IBEW local 48. Nick Vandehey found himself once again, a first-place blue ribbon winner, this time at a Fairbanks Alaska National Journeyman Electrical Workers Championship where he won the contest by a record-setting margin.
After a short amount of time in the electrical trade, Nick became a respected knowledgable teacher and mentor of new apprentices at the Union for years. Nick used his skills as an electrician to help the children in his community develop athletically and intellectually. The Sunset Park Baseball Barn exists because Nick skillfully built it along with co-founding the Banks Youth Soccer Association and being a long time board member of the Banks Baseball Association. Nick Vandehey was a fixture at local scout camps where he volunteered for decades. His level of participation rose to achieve "Vigil Status" in the Boy Scouts Order of the Arrow. Nick voluntarily wired most every building at Boy Scout Camp Meriwether at the Oregon Coast.
Nick Vandehey seemed to always have a warm smile, something positive to say and an occasional clever clean joke to share, he was a true "old school" gentleman who did not cuss and lead by example for his children and those around him. Nick was elected by members of his communities as both the "City of Forest Grove Hometown Hero" and the "City of Banks Volunteer of the Year" yet he shunned recognition and never sought reimbursement for his decades of selfless giving to his local community. Wealth, status and power were definitely not the goals or ambitions of Nick Vandehey.
Nick Vandehey's name was submitted to the Hall of Fame by an individual who happened to see him at the end of the Banks Barbecue in 2013. It had been years since this person last saw Nick and engaged him in a conversation regarding his days raising Strawberries. The passage of decades of time was good to Nick and he looked much as he did back in his earlier days, signature smile ever present. Nick explained his transition to the electrical trade from farming and was friendly and engaging.
Nick Vandehey gave of himself on a fantastically high level to the children in his community and was an excellent role model to his three children and thousands of other local children. Some of those kids he influenced had fathers that walked out on the family in search of "greener pastures" and Nick became like a surrogate father figure to these kids. Nick taught many life lessons enriching the safety, health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of children for little recognition and no reimbursement for his precious time and that is precisely why Nick Vandehey is the Child Advocacy Hall of Fame Inductee for 2014.
Nick, THANK YOU for your contribution to the lives of children. Congratulations on a job unbelievably well done !