Cleveland honors alumni for lifetime achievement


The Commerce-Cleveland Alumni Association held its seventh annual distinguished alumni awards on March 1. Many alumni and their families gathered together at the Portland Golf Club for a cocktail party and presentation of the Order of the Feather awards to four alumni: Dave Bishop, Robert Devich, Joe Loprinzi, and Ken and Sue Poorman.

The alumni association awarded the Order of the Feather to those alumni for lifetime achievement in their chosen field. The awards began in 2009 where Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight was one of the first honored. Since then, 26 other alumni have been honored. From Harvey Platt, CEO of Platt Electric Supply, to former Portland Mayor Tom Potter, Commerce-Cleveland students have really done it all.

Dave Bishop was awarded his Order of the Feather for his work in law enforcement. Bishop graduated from Commerce in 1955, and during his four years here was involved with football and baseball, and many other clubs. After Commerce graduation, Bishop attended Portland State University where he played football and hoped of becoming a professional football player. It became clear that football was not in the cards for him when Bishop injured his knee, so he looked for other career opportunities. “I figured it was easier to be one than be chased by one,” said Bishop when asked how he decided to get into law enforcement.

After getting a degree in criminal justice from the Southern Police Institute, Bishop began his career with the Beaverton Police department at age 23. While moving up the ranks in Beaverton, Bishop followed a hunch which proved to be instrumental in apprehending the I-5 killer, Randall Woodfield, who committed at least 44 homicides along the I-5 corridor in Washington, Oregon, and California. “He wasn’t initially high on our suspect list, but the more I talked to him the more I knew that he was our guy,” said Bishop.

From then on, Bishop was a hot commodity and was appointed Newberg’s Chief of Police in 1984 and then moved back to Beaverton to become Chief of Police there in 1993. Bishop is described by all of his colleagues as a “cop’s cop” who believes that the law applies to everyone, regardless of status or any other factors.

For more than 25 years, Bishop was working for the police department while simultaneously teaching criminal justice classes at Portland State University, George Fox College, and Portland Community College. He retired in 2008, and as a result of his many years of hard work, Beaverton was named the safest city in the Northwest for mid- to large-sized cities.

In accepting his award, Bishop commented on how his time at Commerce really shaped who he turned out to be, and remarked on the quote above an entrance, which reads: “What you are to be, you are now becoming.” Looking back, Bishop says  it cannot be more true; the time spent growing up with the Commerce community really sticks with you.

Robert Devich graduated in 1946, and accepted his Order of the Feather award at age 88 for his work as a judge in the state of California. Devich was very athletic in his younger years, and he played football and basketball for Commerce and chose to pursue basketball during his time at University of Portland where he studied business administration.

After moving to California to pursue his dreams of music and realizing the reality, he became a Beverly Hills police officer between 1955 and 1965. He studied for and passed the bar exam in 1964 and began his career with the District Attorney of Los Angeles. During his time as a judge, Devich was elevated many times by notable people such as Ronald Reagan and George Deukmejian. During his time as a judge (1972 to 1992), Devich was elevated by three different governors from two different political parties!

Devich remarked that while he had a few death penalty cases, none of the defendants were ever given the death penalty. A memorable case for Devich was a civil case in which a group of Samoans were having a pre-wedding party, and the police department was called due to noise complaints. A fight broke out between the two groups, and Devich spent seven months in trial deciphering what had occurred. The end result was that the police had begun the fight and the Samoan group was paid $25 million in settlement.

Devich was inducted into the Commerce-Cleveland High School Alumni Association’s athletic hall of fame in 2012 for all-city achievements in football and basketball. Devich is one of two Order of the Feather winners to also be inducted into the athletic hall of fame.

Joe Loprinzi, 1932 graduate of Commerce, found his passion for fitness and stuck to it. His Order of the Feather Award was accepted on his behalf by his daughter for his work in athletics and physical fitness. At Commerce, he was active in basketball and soccer. Loprinzi and his brother Sam, who were teased for being scrawny all throughout their childhood, opened Loprinzi’s Gym in 1948. After seeing a strong man act at a local theater, they realized that they could be competitive weight lifters. Loprinzi won the state amateur championship and soon got a job at the MAC as a physical fitness instructor. At first, his compensation was a small stipend and a typewriter. However, as the management began to see how valuable Loprinzi was, he was fairly compensated.

Loprinzi auditioned and got a morning slot on KGW for exercise and held his spot there for 18 years. A common saying from Loprinzi was, “Good health is your most valuable asset.” Doing many innovative things with fitness for his time, Loprinzi was an innovator. He created his own size of barbell called “Lady Bells” which were 2.5 pounds and intended for women. He also started the first women’s weight lifting class at the MAC and made a record to go along so that even if one could not make it to the class, they could get exercise at home. Loprinzi also was one of the first to recommend jogging outdoors as exercise.

When Loprinzi retired from the MAC, a wing of the club was dedicated to him and his 60 years of hard work. Loprinzi died in 2009 at age 95. Janet Street, one of his two daughters, recalls, “He would come home late, around 7:30, and we would have already eaten. My mother would sit with him, though, and he would eat a salad big enough for four people.”

Ken and Sue Poorman were awarded for their work in business and philanthropy. They met and began dating their freshman year at Commerce, and they graduated in 1958. Ken was sophomore class and student body president, while also involved with varsity football, wrestling, and track. Sue was a member of rally squad for her four years, as well as part of the National Honor Society and various other clubs. Upon graduation, both attended Oregon State University and married at the end of their sophomore year as Beavers.

Ken started his business career in eighth grade at Sellwood Middle School when he was the branch manager of the Sellwood station for the Oregon Journal. He was managing several delivery boys to make sure that people got their afternoon paper.

Ken graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business and technology while Sue began working in the Oregon State College of Home Economics. Ken spent five years working for IBM while Sue raised their two boys. Both Poormans spent years supporting OSU in various ways: Sue was the first woman president of the OSU Beaver Club, where she raised over $10 million for the school, and Ken was President of the Oregon State University Foundation and was on the Advisory Board of the OSU College of Business for 26 years.

In accepting their award, Sue reminisced back on her time at Commerce with all of her friends, many of whom were at the awards, and said, “I will cherish my four years there till my grave.” Both Ken and Sue are both so grateful for their time at Commerce and the relationships (including their marriage) that they have with people because of how they spent their four years. To conclude their acceptance and their awe in winning, Ken said, “It’s not often in our house that I have the last word.”