Donna Strever passed peacefully in her home, surrounded by loved ones, on April 20, 2021. She was preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Merle, and survived by her sister, 2 sons and 3 grandchildren. Donna was born in a farmhouse in Berwyn, Nebraska to Forrest and Genevieve Ritchie. She grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska and became the pride of her hometown when she won the title of Miss Nebraska, and was 2nd runner up to Miss USA in 1955. She turned down a 7-year movie contract with Universal Pictures to pursue her true calling as an elementary teacher. Donna lived and taught in several states. With a career spanning over 30 years (including 22 years in Hillsboro: 1973-80 at David Hill Elementary; 1980-95 at Minter Bridge), she impacted generations of children. Her goal was always to provide private-school quality education in public school. Her passion for teaching continued into retirement, volunteering at elementary schools and teaching private art lessons. She was also an accomplished oil painter. Her greatest joys in life were her children, grandchildren, her scottie dogs, books and painting. At her request, there will be no memorial service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the ASPCA.
Jane Kushner-Katz was a long-time employee of the Hillsboro School District working in several schools. In her final year at HSD (2019-20), she worked as a speech language pathologist at West Union. She stepped away from her duties at the end of the school year to receive treatment for cancer. She passed away on Friday, April 9, 2021.
Craig Conoy taught drawing, painting, and advertising at Glencoe High School from its opening in 1980 until he retired in 1992. He passed away in mid-December 2020.
Longtime Nutrition Services employee Teresa Dorondo passed away in early November 2020. She originally worked for the Hillsboro Elementary District, which became part of the current Hillsboro School District upon unification in 1997. She worked at Peter Boscow and then opened Patterson before moving to Glencoe High School. She retired in June of this year after nearly 30 years of service.
Liberty High School swing shift custodian Colin Banwell was killed in a car accident coming home from the coast on Saturday, October 31. Colin had been a member of the Liberty staff since 2011. According to Principal Greg Timmons: "He was a very skilled and hard worker and appreciated by all who worked with him. I know he cared deeply for his work and the importance of serving our students."
Becky Wismer, a special education assistant at Imlay Elementary School, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on Monday, June 29. Becky was hired in 2012 and first worked at Tobias Elementary School before transferring to Imlay in 2015. "Becky was a tremendous individual who lit up the room when around the kids. She will be dearly missed at Imlay and HSD," commented Principal Jen McCalley. Information is not yet known about a memorial service or celebration of life.
Gordon Damron, a bus driver in the Transportation Department, passed away the weekend of May 16 after a recent cancer diagnosis. Gordon joined the Transportation team in December of 2015. He worked as both a district driver and, most recently, as a route driver out of Jackson Elementary School and Liberty High School. This was a second career for Gordon, who had previously spent more than 20 years in electronics sales. Gordon was a quiet man who loved his role as a school bus driver and was always faithful to his route and his duties.
"With Gordon’s death, we have lost an important member of our Transportation family. We grieve his passing and we send our sincerest condolences to his family and friends, especially his wife Deb, who is an assistant cook at Lincoln Street Elementary School," expressed Executive Director Carol Hatfield.
On Friday morning, March 20, 2020, we found out that our sweet Zaida from the Translations department succumbed to her long battle with cancer Thursday evening, March 19. Zaida was a talented, dedicated employee and friend to all. Even as she physically suffered through rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, she kept a smile on her face and worked as much as she could. Though we knew we would miss her, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when she decided it was time to retire and spend the time she had left with her husband and two sons, whom she loved so dearly. In the end, she was surrounded by love; and although she left this world too soon, she left an indelible mark on all of us.
We do not know about services or requests for remembrances at this time. As soon as we receive more information, we will pass it along.
Our hearts and thoughts go out to Zaida’s family, friends, and all who knew her at this sad time.
Bonnie Henson a long time member of the North Plains School Community passed away on December 23, 2019. She started as an instructional assistant in 1984 and was hired as a teacher in 1991. Then, she worked twenty-three years exclusively teaching first grade teacher. She retired in the Spring of 2015. Each day she greeted each of her students with a reassuring and sincere smile. Whenever, anything did not go as planned, she refelcted on what she could do differently to make the next day perfect for each child. She would gleefully announce each time a student got it and joined the ranks of “Reader”. She developed a class family each year, a culture of kindness and caring and did anything she could to give each student the best day of learning possible. Prior to consolidation, if someone from the staff might see a student across the road picking strawberries during class, she would always be part of the group who would cross the road, reassure the parent and bring the student to class, and give them a day full of love.
Retired Orenco principal Tim Bishop passed away on Friday, December 13, 2019. Tim started with the District in the 1980s as a teacher at David Hill and Eastwood Elementary Schools. He later became a principal at both Peter Boscow and Mooberry Elementary Schools. In 1997, he was hired as an assistant principal at Glencoe High School, where he remained until 1999 when he was selected as the project manager/planning principal during Orenco Elementary School's construction. Tim then served as the principal of Orenco from its opening in 2000 until his retirement in 2013. He left a legacy in the Orca Live! student-produced broadcasts and studio, which he helped launch in 2004 and is still going strong. Memorial service information will be updated here once details are received.
Retired HSD administrator Kenneth Rupp was tragically killed in a car accident on Thursday, August 15, 2019. Ken served as a building principal from 1978 to 1994, at which time he became the executive director of elementary schools. Though he officially retired in 1997, Ken contracted back for an additional year. A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, September 15, from 2 to 5pm at the Claremont Clubhouse, 15800 NW Country Club Dr., Portland, OR 97229.
Vernon Wayne “Vern” Petrick Jr.
Vern Petrick was a beloved member of the Glencoe community, serving as a teacher, coach, and athletic director from the time the school opened in 1982 until complications from Parkinson’s Disease necessitated his retirement in 2006. He was inducted into the Oregon Athletic Directors Hall of Fame in 2010. All of his children attended HSD schools, seven of his ten grandchildren currently attend HSD schools, and his son Rian and daughter-in-law Kellie both work for the District. Vern ultimately succumbed to Parkinson’s and pneumonia on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, surrounded by his devoted family. His celebration of life will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2019, at 4 p.m. in the Glencoe gymnasium, which bears his name. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations in his honor to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, an organization leading the research effort on finding a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, or to the Glencoe High School athletic department. Additional information about Vern is here in his obituary.
Belizario “Billy” Castellano
Belizario “Billy” Castellano passed away on October 10, 2018. Billy was a long-time staff member who most recently was working as the head custodian at Evergreen Middle School. Billy was hired in 1985 for what was then the Hilhi School District and later became the Reedville School District. He worked at Butternut Creek Elementary school from 1989 through 2009 when he retired. He became a substitute after his retirement and then was rehired at Evergreen in 2015.
For those who are interested, Billy’s family has set up a GoFundMe site for assistance with medical and funeral expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/fund-for-the-castellano-family.
Our sincerest thanks to Billy for his dedicated service to the students, staff, and families of the Hillsboro School District; and our deepest sympathies go out to families, friends, and all who knew him.
UPDATE 10/22 - Services will be held on Sunday October 28 at 1:00 pm at the Senior Center in Hillsboro.
Gene Grimes passed away on October 10, 2018. Gene had been the night custodian at R.A. Brown Middle School for the past two years. Prior to that, he had worked for 31 years as a church custodian in Indiana. He retired and moved to Oregon to live with his son and decided that he wanted to keep working, so he took the position at Brown.
Our sincerest thanks to Gene for his dedicated service to the students, staff, and families of the Hillsboro School District; and our deepest sympathies go out to families, friends, and all who knew him.
Kim Ellsworth passed away on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Mrs. Ellsworth was most recently a special education teacher at South Meadows Middle School. She has worked at all HSD high schools and has coached track, soccer and basketball over the course of her 20 years in the District. Click here to read a letter to parents at South Meadows.
Sunday, April 8
- Viewing: 1-3 p.m., Fir Lawn Chapel, 1070 W Main St., Hillsboro
Monday, April 9
- Rosary: 10:30-11 a.m., St. Matthew Catholic Church, 447 SE 3rd Ave., Hillsboro
- Mass: 11 a.m.-noon, St. Matthew
- Burial: 12:30-1 p.m., Fir Lawn Cemetery
- Reception: 1 p.m., St. Matthew Parish Hall
Click here for more information on Facebook.
Terry Anne Takase Shlaes
Passed away Tuesday Feb. 27, 2018. Terry taught Special Ed, Science, Math and English Classes at Phil Lewis Elementary, was head of the Special Education Departments at Tualatin High School and Century High School in Hillsboro before joining Lakeridge High in 2003. Terry was a tireless advocate for students, clients, mentees and community members, both in her role as a teacher and in her off duty hours. Click here for her obituary in the Oregonian. Click here to write a condolence on-line.
Diane VanBlaricom Nielsen
Former Business Manager Diane VanBlaricom Nielsen passed away Sunday, November 12. Diane worked for the district from December 2003 to her retirement in June 2008.
Diane's celebration of life will take place on Sunday, November 19 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (open house) at Portofino Restaurant, 8075 SE 13th Avenue, Portland.
Elizabeth (Libby) Downer passed away peacefully at her home on Thursday, September 28. In 1999 she began working as an inclusion assistant, working at Peter Boscow, Imlay, Patterson and Free Orchards. She accomplished many breakthroughs with autistic children she worked with, and received numerous written commendations during those years. Teaching children was a lifelong passion for Libby.
Libby's memorial service will be held on Saturday, Oct 14 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at her home, 3320 NE Sunburst Ave, Hillsboro, OR 97124.
There will be a celebration of life for Marge on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, 11 a.m., at the Emanuel Lutheran Church, 1124 S Beech St, Cornelius. Lunch will follow. Her obituary is listed at Fuiten, Rose & Hoyt website, as well as a guestbook you are invited to sign.
Marge was a long-time employee of HSD, having served from 1996-2003 as a benefits specialist at the Admin. Center and as a secretary at North Plains Elementary.