happening peoplearchive

Dennis Hebert

"I was born on the bayou," says Dennis Hebert of Houma, Louisiana. "When a hurricane came, we'd board everything up and feel the house shake." Hebert left the University of Southwest Louisiana in Lafayette to get married, but instead got drafted. He received a Dear John letter and a Purple Heart in Viet Nam. He finished a marketing degree on the GI Bill, moved to Phoenix, and started doing carpentry. He traveled the West for three years in his 1961 International van, the Turtle, picking up jobs along the way. Returning to Phoenix in 1981, he met a lady, Larena. They explored Oregon on vacation, then packed the van and moved to Eugene in 1986. Within days, he had a carpentry job and a rental house off Hilyard Street. In June, the roar of Eugene Emeralds baseball games drew him to nearby Civic Stadium. He became a fan of the team and of its wooden grandstand, a WPA project built in 1938. He married Larena in 1988, commuted to a job at the State Capitol in Salem until 2001, then worked at the UO until retirement in 2010. When a judge ruled in 2007 that the Eugene School District could sell the Civic Stadium property, Hebert parked the Turtle out front with a banner and collected 3500 signatures to save it. He started a non-profit, Friends of Civic Stadium, to raise funds, and set up tables at local events. A goal of $3 million to support the city's bid for Civic fell short, until it was rescued earlier this year by a new public-private partnership, the Eugene Civic Alliance. "They thank us for bearing the torch," says Hebert. "We thank them for making it happen."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 11 June 2015

hp archive