Phil Walden, an esteemed educator and coach, is responsible for establishing the Albina Sports Program. His experience as a teacher in Portland Public Schools, Superintendent of Education at the Oregon State Prison, Mt. Hood College Veteran's Education Specialist, and substitute teacher in Multnomah County fueled Mr. Walden's love and dedication to education.
While Phil's true calling was in the coaching of many sports, including basketball, football, and track. For the purpose of assisting young people in attaining their athletic and intellectual objectives, he established the Albina Road Runners track team and the Albina Sports Program.
Founder Phil Walden
Phillip Summers Walden was an award winning educator and coach in Portland, Oregon. He was the son of Robert Elizabeth Summers and Walter St. Clair Walden and the grandson of Peter and Patti Summers, who are also buried in Portland. Grandpa Peter owned a store/pawnshop in Portland’s Pearl District. The family lived on Flanders Street in NW Portland where Phil attended St. Patrick’s Grade School and Lincoln High School. He earned his degrees at Portland State University and the University of Portland.
Phil enlisted in the US Army in 1946 and did his training in Richmond, Virginia. At the time the army was still segregated by race. That was finally abolished in 1948 when President Truman issued Executive Order 9981. Phil served as paymaster for one of the last all-black units, which was stationed in Taejon, Korea.
When Phil ended his service to the country he returned to Portland and served his community in a manner that went above and beyond the call of duty. His long teaching career found him at several Portland schools including James John, Holliday, Woodlawn, Marysville, and Sunnyside. He became the Superintendent of Education at the Oregon State Prison in Salem, and was the Veteran's Education Specialist at Mount Hood Community College.
Phil's sports interests were youth football, youth basketball and track and field, where he coached in both youth and high school programs. He founded Albina Sports Basketball and the Albina Roadrunners track club, which he funded himself on many occasions. His exemplary service was recognized with many awards and accolades including the Portland World Arts Foundation MLK Jr Award, State Farm Insurance Neighborhood Award, Bethel AME Church Award, PIL Hall of Fame, Kaiser Hospital Master Athlete Award, USA (Portland) National Physique and Fitness Award, and the first Self Enhancement Incorporated Black History Maker Award. He was also honored with awards from The Bridge Builder Youth Program, Portland Trailblazers, Jefferson High School, Model Cities Program, Albina Ministerial Alliance, and the Black Employment Division of the Portland Federal Executive Board.
Phil is best known to many as the founder and coach of the Albina Roadrunners which has served young people in the Portland area for half a century. He became a father figure to Oregon athletes, black and white alike, when times were tough, paying entry fees, buying equipment, transporting, and counseling athletes who needed help. He was the mentor of many current Oregon coaches.
The city of Portland (under mayors Terry Schrunk and Bud Clark) twice named days in honor of Phil Walden for his service to the youth of Portland. Mayor Clark said: "Phil Walden always promoted the concepts of human relations and equality for all students and athletes, encouraging and teaching them to be their best, to achieve goals, and overcome barriers."
JJ Birden, former NFL star and one of many great Oregon athletes coached by Phil reflected in his book 'When Opportunity Knocks, 8 Surefire Ways to Take Advantage' that “Phil was like a second parent for many, providing emotional and financial support. He gave people an opportunity to grow and develop.”
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