In the community

Vale Alumni set to honor 5 at annual banquet

VALE – Local folks who enjoy watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve, rooting for the Vikings on the gridiron and helping Vale students to success should be please to see the honors going to a handful of notable citizens later this month.

The occasion is the Vale High School Alumni Hall of Fame induction banquet, set for Saturday, Oct. 22, at Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, with social time at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m.

With reservations already filling the tables, a packed house is expected to be on hand as the organization inducts energetic civic boosters Dwight and Karlene Keller, longtime school administrator Bob Crawford, and the late Gary Kamo and Joe Yraguen, Viking athletic stars and boosters.

The event features live and silent auctions, capped by the induction ceremony.

Dwight and Karlene Keller, class of 1974 and 1982 respectively, were nominated for their commitment to school activities and community organizations.

Lifetime members of the alumni association, they have sponsored and coached Vale soccer players in the Ontario rec program for 13 years. They have been involved in the Vale Chamber of Commerce, Vale Fire and Ambulance, Malheur County Search and Rescue, the annual Vale Crab Feed, and instrumental in staging the community’s traditional fireworks displays.

The couple ran Kellers Auto Parts for 20 years, sponsored soccer players in the Ontario recreation league, and helped organize a pickup truck parade that broke a Guinness Book record for the longest pickup parade. Dwight has been active in the Vale Lions and served on boards for the rodeo, the airport and the cemetery in Vale. Karlene has been a 4H leader, Pioneer Nursing Home board member and involved in the Vale Community Coalition.

Karlene and Dwight Keller (Submitted photo)

The Kellers, who now farm in the Vale area, raised three sons, also graduates of Vale High.    

Crawford, although not a Viking graduate, has deep ties to Vale. He was principal and superintendent at Vale Elementary and, as overall superintendent, was instrumental in the smooth transition from separate districts – Willowcreek, Vale Elementary and Vale Union High – into the current Vale School District.

After his retirement in 1993, he continued working as superintendent of the combined district with an arrangement that allowed him to dedicate his normal salary amount toward building the high school athletic complex. According to the Hall of Fame nomination, that arrangement was key to turning “one of the poorer setups in the league” into a top facility.

He also was involved in the Vale Lions, Chamber of Commerce and the scholarship foundation for FFA.

Star athletes in their Viking years, Gary Kamo and Joe Yraguen were nominated for their longtime support of local youth, sports and officiating.

Gary Kamo and Joe Yraguen (Submitted)

Both graduated from Vale High School in 1966, and were members of the 1965 state champion football team. They went on to Treasure Valley Community College, playing for the Chukars, and then to four-year colleges for their degrees. Kamo played football and wrestled for the Oregon State University Beavers, and Yraguen took to the field for the Portland State University Vikings.

Kamo, who worked in the agriculture industry and with heavy equipment, was active in the Ore-Ida Judo Club, and attained black belt rank. In addition to competing, he taught youngsters judo skills. His experience in judo and as a college-level wrestler led him to officiate high school wrestling, traveling to tourneys throughout the Intermountain West.

Yraguen, who worked as a glazier and then at Kraft Ore-Ida Foods, began officiating baseball and football games and worked his way up – eventually officiating football in the Big Sky Conference and occasionally in other conferences, including the Pac 12.

The nomination form notes that he was voted into the Big Sky Conference Hall of Fame as a sideline referee from 1998 to 2009.

John Kirby, who nominated the duo and was a classmate of theirs at TVCC, noted their pride in their Vale roots and the way they brought honor to the sports they loved.

The two, described as best friends, died just months apart – Yraguen in November 2019 and Kamo in April 2020.

For ticket information, contact Bobbi Buttice at 541-823-2900.

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