Curtis Tigard celebrates 109th Birthday

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Tigard greeting guests at his 108th birthday. Photos courtesy of the Tigard Historical Association.
Tigard greeting guests at his 108th birthday. Photos courtesy of the Tigard Historical Association.

On the first day of spring, Curtis Tigard, the 108-year-old grandson of the founder of Tigard, was joking with his next-door neighbor, B.J. Campbell, who stopped by to check on him.

When she asked about his upcoming 109th birthday on April 13, Tigard responded, “Do I know what 109 is?’

After Campbell asked him if he was excited about the milestone birthday, Tigard asked, “Do I look excited?”

The Royal Villas community just south of Tigard where Tigard lives hosts a birthday party for him every year, and Campbell said, “I think the residents are more excited than he is about this upcoming birthday.”

Tigard, sitting in his favorite chair under a cozy orange-and-black Oregon State University blanket, a nod to his graduation from its predecessor, Oregon Agricultural College, talked about going to elementary and high school and living through much of Tigard’s history.

“Am I retired?” he joked, although Campbell pointed out that since Tigard retired from US Bank in Tigard in 1971, he has been retired almost 50 years, which is far longer than he worked.

Campbell and her sister Arlene Toates have been Tigard’s neighbors for decades, with Tigard moving to Royal Villas in 1969, so Campbell knows his life story almost as well as he does.

Curtis Tigard celebrating his 108th birthday in 2017.
Curtis Tigard celebrating his 108th birthday in 2017.

“Curt caught moles at the Tualatin Country Club (a job that he started as a teenager) until he was 102,” Campbell said. “I think he did it that long just because he could. He was good at it.”

While several plaques, awards and birthday cards from previous celebrations line the walls of Tigard’s home, Campbell said, “There aren’t that many photos because they have all been given away.”

She added, “I think Curt is the oldest living graduate of OSU, and he is the oldest living member of Theta Chi Fraternity, which he joined at OSU.”

Tigard, who was born in 1909 and graduated from Tigard Grade School and Beaverton High School because there was no high school in Tigard, proudly displays on his living room wall a quilt with imprinted photos from his life, a gift from BHS students.

“Alberta Rider (Elementary) students gave him a birthday card in 2013,” Campbell said. “He gets a lot of nice things from people.”

Wilson Tigard founded Tigardville, which later became Tigard, and Wilson’s son and daughter-in-law Charles F. and Rosa Tigard, operated the Tigardville General Store and later the post office at the intersection of Pacific Highway and McDonald Street.

Tigard, who served in the U.S. Army, remembers the end of World War I and delivering the Oregon Journal on horseback.

While Tigard munched on a sandwich and fruit while he talked, Campbell said of him, “He eats anything. He was raised that way. There is nothing he doesn’t like. Until last year, he grew his own tomatoes.”

And everyone knows that Tigard’s favorite dessert is carrot cake, which is usually served at his birthday parties.

Tigard didn’t just sit behind a desk at the bank where he worked for 34 years: He climbed Mount Hood 35 times and traveled the world. And he joined lots of organizations and clubs.

A lifetime golfer and longtime member of the Tualatin Country Club, in 1989 the club awarded Tigard its Good Fellowship Award “for his may years of participation and constant display of good fellowship.”

In 2011 the Kiwanis Club of Portland named Tigard to its Legion of Honor, and Theta Chi Fraternity, which Tigard joined at OSU on Oct. 18, 1929, named him to its Diamond Brigade for 75 years of membership. On April 13, 2014, which was Tigard’s 105th birthday, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber proclaimed the date as Curtis Tigard Celebration Day.

Tigard comes from a long-lived family as his mother Rosa lived to the age of 105, and he doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon. But just in case, his Oregon driver’s license, which he last renewed in 2013, doesn’t expire until 2021.

Tigard Historical Association to
Host Curtis Tigard’s 109th Birthday Celebration at the John Tigard House

Curtis Tigard in front of the John Tigard House.
Curtis Tigard in front of the John Tigard House.

 Come and celebrate Curtis Tigard’s 109th birthday at the John Tigard House on Saturday, April 14 from 1 to 3 pm. Curtis is the grandson of Wilson and Mary Ann Tigard who traveled by wagon train to our area from Arkansas in 1852. Birthday cake will be served and birthday wishes exchanged.

The 1880 John Tigard House is located at 103rd and Canterbury Lane in Tigard. Donations are greatly appreciated. For further information, call 503 747-9856 or email info@tigardhistorical.org.

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Barbara Sherman
Barbara Sherman is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at several metro-area newspapers for nearly 30 years. You can reach Barbara at barb@tigardlife.com.

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