Obituary of Bert Babb
Bert was born to Bert Graydon Babb Sr. and Carrie Gail (Boak) Babb in Salem, OR. He grew up in Valsetz, OR with his sisters Bette, Nancy and Margaret (Mig). Bert played football, basketball and baseball and graduated from Valsetz High School in a class of two - where he was President, Valedictorian and Salutatorian of his class. He met his childhood sweetheart, Shirley Hamilton when he was 16 and she was 14. Influenced by his father, 1920’s Oregon State University (then Oregon Agricultural College) baseball letter-winner, pitcher and team captain, Bert attended Oregon State University with the hope of playing baseball. A car accident changed the trajectory of his baseball career, but he still loved his time at Oregon State. When he went home for spring break he was drafted into the army during the Korean conflict, reaching the rank of Corporal, receiving the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and a Good Conduct Medal. When Bert came home on his first leave, he and Shirley got married on October 9, 1953.
Returning from Korea, Bert held down three jobs: days at McKay’s Market in Santa Clara where he started as a box boy working for his future colleagues Miles, Ken & Doug McKay and Harold Hagg, nights at Lane Plywood, and fill-in work at Zeke’s Tavern on River Road. McKay talked Bert into giving up his other jobs to work for him full time in the grocery business, with the promise to help him finish college. Bert worked incredibly hard to support his growing family, and as his household began to grow, so did his role in the grocery industry. Mayfair Markets eventually purchased the chain, and Bert became a district manager. He went on to become the head buyer and ad writer for Mayfair’s stores in Oregon and Washington.
In 1969, Bert & Shirley bought Harold’s Market in Veneta from Anne Hagg. With the Harold’s purchase, they began a business that not only supported their family, but their community. In 1979, Harold’s Market was named one of America’s most outstanding stores by Progressive Grocer Magazine, an honor bestowed on only 5 Oregon stores and 141 stores nationwide. In 1984, the Babb’s built the West Lane Shopping Center and opened Babb’s West Lane Thriftway in Veneta. Bert was named Man of the Year in 1991 at the West Lane Distinguished Service Awards. Bert’s mother was a teacher and he always believed education was very important. He and Shirley helped several of their box boys/girls with college tuition, books & housing. Throughout his tenure in Veneta, Bert upheld his parents’ philosophy that being in business means giving back to the community either by direct involvement and commitment of your time, or by donating quietly behind the scenes.
As one of the founding members of Oregon Food Industries (OFI), and the first President of their board of directors, Bert was instrumental in building a strong state association to represent Oregon’s grocery industry. He helped create the statewide “Football Fever” program which raised funds through the purchase of specific items in grocery stores to support athletic programs at Oregon State University, the University of Oregon & Portland State University. Bert served on many grocery boards and committees including The National Federation of Independent Businessmen, Oregon Food Industries Hall of Fame, United Grocers Board of Directors, and the Thriftway Board of Directors. Bert’s induction into the OFI Grocery Hall of Fame in 1995 represented not only his success in the industry, but also his ability to accomplish so much for so many and make it all so much fun.
Bert volunteered with West Lane Chamber of Commerce, Veneta Economic Development Committee, Elmira Grange, Tri-County Bank Board of Directors, Kiwanis (River Road & Veneta), Elks, United Way, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boys & Girls Clubs, Lion’s Club, Campus Life, Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts of America, Campfire Girls, 4-H, Literacy Coalition Spell-a-bration, Community Chest/Love Project Holiday Food Drive, Doctors Without Borders, Volunteers in Medicine, Territorial Sports Program, Eugene Kidsports, Elmira High School Booster Club & American Legion Baseball to name a few. Bert’s love of baseball led him and North Eugene Coach Garry Selby to meet and begin the process of planning, fundraising and building of North Eugene’s Swede Johnson Stadium. Bert was also an integral part in the planning, development, fundraising and building of the Willamette Valley Babe Ruth Baseball Complex. Bert maintained a lifelong interest in all sports and was a lifetime member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.
Bert’s fervent devotion to supporting Oregon State University was legendary. A longtime OSU Foundation trustee and member of the Milton Harris Society, he was one of the few people to have received the 3 highest awards presented to OSU volunteer leaders: The Lifetime Trustee Award (OSU Foundation, 2019), Martin Chaves Lifetime Achievement Award (OSU Athletics, 2000), and the Dan W. Poling Alumni Service Award (OSU Alumni Association, 1999). Bert served on both the OSU and the U of O Advisory Boards, at the same time, and was very proud to support higher education in the state of Oregon. Babb’s mother, father, an older sister and three of his grandkids (Malisa Hollis, Jon Hollis & Jake Quiring) all graduated from OSU. One granddaughter, Lindsay Babb, graduated from the U of O. One of his legacies for his family was that he showed up. He didn’t want to just have his name attached to a board or committee. He was a committed and active participant, attending meetings and helping to move mountains.
Bert’s commitment to helping student-athletes achieve their full potential led to years of service on multiple fundraising steering committees, helping to build the Valley Football Center, Goss Stadium and the CH2M HILL Alumni Center. He helped develop and serve as president of the (former) Beaver Club, a booster organization to support Oregon State athletics. The Babb’s donated the lights for both the baseball and softball fields. Having the diamonds lighted made night games a reality and they felt were essential to hosting playoff games and having a shot at the College World Series. Their belief in the Beavers’ continued success was unwavering! Bert & Shirley have had season tickets to football, men’s & women’s basketball, baseball (some for over 50 years) and both regularly attended gymnastics, wrestling & softball competitions. His father and one grandson played baseball for the Beavers. Bert traveled to Omaha annually for the Baseball College World Series for over 20 years, watching the Beavers win the National Title three times.
Bert was dedicated to elevating and improving the infrastructure of his community, with healthcare being a particular passion area. He believed that quality healthcare and state-of-the-art facilities were integral to the community’s well-being and growth. He was an active member of the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Board of Directors since 1997 and remained an Emeritus member throughout his life. His dedication to the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center earned him the Alvord Volunteer Leadership Award in 2010. Bert served on numerous working committees during his tenure on the board, and Bert and Shirley supported many PeaceHealth projects and initiatives including Courageous Kids, Sacred Heart Community Health, Cusack Medical Social Work, and the construction of the RiverBend campus and the Heartfelt Guest House. Most notable however, was his love and passion for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) program which directly supports the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and pediatric programs and services at Sacred Heart. Bert was a part of the CMN program at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center from the very beginning when it started in 1987. He and his entire family have volunteered for countless CMN events, from the early days of answering phones for the CMN Telethon phone bank to hosting fundraising events for CMN at the West Lane Thriftway store. Bert was a member of the CMN Leadership Committee and established the CMN Golf Classic in 1995 (now entering its 27th year!). Bert could always be counted on to share a joke and a smile with every golfer as he cruised around the course in his cart, always ensuring everything was running smoothly. He was a staunch ambassador for the CMN program at board meetings and in the community, and with his public leadership of the program, helped raise over $2 million in support of our local pediatric healthcare.
Bert inspired and encouraged his family and friends to join him in supporting the causes closest to him. He was a hard man to say “no” to because you knew his own investment was genuine and extensive. Bert’s presence was larger than life, and his influence and charisma will never be forgotten. The full impact that his work and his life has had on this community could never be fully captured in these few words and will be felt for so many generations to come.
Bert is survived by his wife Shirley, three children Kimberley (Wilbur Quiring), Konni (Doug Hollis) and Mike (Valerie Stursa); grandchildren Malisa & Jon Hollis (Charlie), Brady Babb, Jacob Quiring (Amy), Kasey Babb (Joyce), Jordan Quiring (Ashleigh); and great-grandchildren Cameron, Parker & Lindsay Babb, Allisha & Graydon Quiring, Paisleigh & Ella Quiring, sister-in-law Julia Seibert, brother-in-law Raymond Klein, and numerous nieces and nephews. Bert was preceded in death by his parents, sisters & granddaughter Lindsay Allisha Babb.
A Celebration of Life for Bert will be held Tuesday, June 14, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. at Shadow Hills Country Club.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Miracle Network program at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center by mail to: Children’s Miracle Network, PO Box 10905, Eugene OR 97440, or online at: https://www.peacehealth.org/foundation/sacred-heart/donate-now (select “Children’s Miracle Network” in the designation drop-down menu - there is a place to include a note and “in memory of” that can be shared with the family)
OR to the Bert G Babb Sr Memorial Athletic Scholarship Fund - (specifically supports the OSU Baseball program) to the OSU Foundation by mail to: OSU Foundation, 4238 SW Research Way, Corvallis, OR 97333.
Arrangements entrusted to Musgrove Family Mortuary. Please access the obituary and you are invited to sign the guestbook at musgroves.com.