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Hearts of Gold awards meted to two couples and one organization

Providence Newberg Health Foundations annual recognition lauds Simonsens, Wants and Recycled Retreads


Two couples and a familiar local group were recognized collectively earlier this month for their heart for service and giving to others.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Recognized for their service - Hearts of Gold recipients are (back row) Retired Recyclers Jim Kolbert, John Kalenda and Rex McElwain, and (front row) Walter and Julie Want and Roberta and Ray Simonsen.

The awardees of the annual Hearts of Gold were named during a luncheon held in the healing garden at Providence Newberg Medical Center. More than 380 people were on hand for the event, which is a fundraiser for the Mike Oldberding Education Fund. The fund, named after the late businessman and civic leader, helps nurses and other medical staff obtain advanced degrees and specialized certifications by paying for workshops, conferences and exam fees.

This year’s honorees are the Retired Recyclers, Walter and Julie Want, and Ray and Roberta Simonsen.

The Retired Recyclers serve in the community by giving new life to bicycles and then distributing those bicycles to low-income children in the community. The group, comprised of retired workers from SP Newsprint (now SP Fiber Technologies), started in the mid-1990s and has put more than 1,500 bicycles back on the road. Forced to disband in 2008 after losing their work space at the mill, the group reunited a few years later with the help of former Superintendent Paula Radich, who made space available in the Newberg School District bus barn on South Blaine Street. The repaired bicycles have also been sent to flood victims in North Carolina, children in Romania and auctioned off for Children with Cancer in Stevens Lake, Wash.

For their efforts, the group has been recognized by then-state Sen. Gordon Smith through a letter of recognition and was the recipient of an Alice B. Toeclips Award, meted annually from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in Portland.

The Simonsens’ history of service is centered around education. The high school sweethearts both graduated from Linfield College, married in 1955 and started 58-year careers as teachers and administrators at schools in Yamhill County.

Roberta Simonsen taught cooking at McMinnville High School over the course of a long career, while her husband started out teaching math and also coached sports before learning of his aptitude for administration. He taught teachers at Linfield and also formed the local chapter of the Upward Bound Program, which identifies academically gifted but financially challenged high school students to help them prepare for college.

The couple was also instrumental in forming programs at McMinnville and Newberg high schools designed to assist teen mothers and fathers to remain in school while providing a safe environment for their children.

Not people to slow down in retirement, the Simonsens remain involved in education through scholarship programs for the Newberg Noon Rotary, St. Paul Rodeo Association, PEP and other private scholarship funds.

Walter and Julie Want grew up in towns like Newberg — Walter in New Mexico, Julie in Wendell, Idaho. Julie graduated from the University of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in English and math, Walter from New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics. Fulfilling his dream of being a pilot, Walter joined the U.S. Air Force and served as a forward air controller in southeast Asia.

Walter became a nationally known expert in work safety. He was named Safety Professional of the Year for the Northwest in 2006. Julie became a CPA in 1975 and built her Newberg practice, now Want and Emery CPAs.

The Wants became active in the community, first through their children’s school and sports. Julie has been a leader on many boards over the years, among the many Newberg City Club, Chamber of Commerce, Chehalem Cultural Center and Providence Newberg Health Foundation. She is a member of the board of directors of First Federal. In retirement, Walter reads for S.M.A.R.T., serves senior meals, is a Faith in Action volunteer and supports the library and FFA. Both are active in the Newberg Rotary noon club, and Walter makes international service trips.



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