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Oliver Thornton

On summer vacation from Hollywood High in the 1940s, Oliver Thornton visited an uncle in Washington. "He had the only house on Lake Samish," Thornton recalls. "I told myself, 'I've gotta come back here.'" Eventually he did move north, to Beaverton, and worked for the Oregon Department of Justice. He also earned degrees in social work and counseling in night school at Portland State, moved to Eugene in '73, and counseled juvenile offenders for the county until his retirement in '85. Since then he has often traveled abroad, lived out of a backpack, and stayed at youth hostels. "My last trip was bicycling in Cuba in 2004," he says. "At 76 I don't travel as much." For the past three years, Thornton has volunteered several times a month for Planned Parenthood. "He's our most active volunteer," says public affairs organizer Emily Alvarado. "He's at every event." Sorenson is gearing up to campaign against a parental-notification initiative on the fall ballot. "We just did a table at the UO Bookstore," he says. "We're trying to maintain women's right to choose."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 6 April 2006

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