Football: How Memorial Stadium was built
July 3, 2008 · Updated 9:54 PM
Since there has been so much debate over Oak Harbor Memorial Stadium the last few months, I thought I might share how our forefathers handled the problem.
Browsing through the research I gathered for the booklet North Whidbey Pioneer Schools, I came upon this information: Originally, the idea of building a football stadium came from sports enthusiasts Jess Boyer and Bob Mitchell, and they get the credit for proposing the idea. However, once the idea got rolling, a conflict emerged as to whether or not it should be a football or a baseball stadium. Baseball won. In later years, the school district renovated the field to make it a dual football/baseball field.
In a letter from Si Heller, dated Jan. 29, 1983, he wrote:
The Memorial Stadium was a voluntary project; built in 1944. It was started as a football stadium. Some of us who liked baseball got together (Don Ely, Claude Boyer, Barney Heller and Si Heller) and each donated $750 to get the extra lights for the baseball field.
The biggest job was to build the grandstand. Barney and I worked all winter on the grandstand; others also pitched in and helped. Albert Heller had a small mill. We got together and sawed the lumber and delivered it and went to work.
The boys from the school would come over and work a couple of hours every day. On the weekends, there would be work partys. The carpenters and workers would come and pitch in.
The local power company set up poles and ran wire for the lights. There was an amazing amount of cooperation on the project. The Navy came for a day with a crane and set up the trusses for the roof of the stadium.
It was a real community barn raiser. Everyone stepped out to raise funds. There were turkey shoots and barrels of cider sold to raise the money.
Ah, the good old days. Guess Id be dreaming to think this community, the Navy, and the power company could do it all again. And yet......
Joan Gilmore lives in Oak Harbor