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Oregon Nurserymen's Hall Of Fame To Honor Two Men
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Oregon Nurserymen's Hall Of Fame To Honor Two Men

June 20, 2002

Contact: Cam Sivesind at (503) 682-5089 or (800) 342-6401.

MILWAUKIE, Ore. -- The Oregon Nurserymen's Hall of Fame will grow by two members Thursday, June 13, when hundreds honor two industry heavyweights at the Oregon Garden in Silverton with a dinner and induction ceremony.

It is perhaps fitting that the event is taking place at the garden, specifically in the J. Frank Schmidt Jr. Pavilion. Norbert Kinen spent nearly a quarter century as a manager at J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. in Boring, Ore., before retiring in 2000. A past president of the Oregon Association of Nurserymen, Kinen earned the utmost respect for his focus on legislative and labor issues, working closely with farm workers and members of Congress on guestworker issues.

Clayton Hannon served as executive director of the OAN for 11 years and simultaneously as executive director of the Oregon Garden Foundation from 1994-97. Though the garden was an idea first proposed in the 1950s, it grew legs in 1991 when the OAN, under Hannon's guidance, began holding long-range planning meetings. Coincidentally, the Hall of Fame is an idea proposed by Hannon, and in 1991 the first five inductees were honored.

Kinen and Hannon will be No. 33 and No. 34 to have plaques hanging in the Oregon Nurserymen's Hall of Fame room at the Oregon Garden. The hall of fame's purpose is to recognize those individuals instrumental in the development of the Oregon nursery industry, who have brought credit and recognition to the industry or who have had a profound historical impact on the industry.

Clayton Hannon

Hannon, now a resident of Gleneden Beach on the Oregon Coast, served as the OAN's top staff member from 1988 to 1999, an era that saw the nursery and greenhouse industry become the state's top-producing agricultural sector, the OAN budget and its staff size triple, and membership increase by 50 percent. Hannon said starting a Hall of Fame for the nursery industry was an idea whose time had come.

Clayton Hannon

"It was my idea to start it," Hannon said. "Coming from outside the industry as I did, once I was inside I realized the history and how it's grown to become an agricultural leader in an ag state. That can only happen because of the leaders that came before. They needed to be honored."

In addition to being the OAN's executive director for 11 years, he served simultaneously as executive director of the Oregon Garden Foundation from 1994 to 1997. Though the garden was an idea first proposed in the 1950s, it grew legs in 1991 when the OAN, under Hannon's guidance, began holding long-range planning meetings.

Hannon also spent 18 years with the Portland Rose Festival Association, taking it from a small, struggling festival to a financially sound special event of international stature. The special-events industry recognized Hannon's outstanding contributions, inducting him into the International Festivals & Events Association Hall of Fame in 1997.

"Look at the OAN when he started and when he left," said Clint Smith, 1997 OAN president and owner of Four Mile Nursery in Canby, Ore. "He took a little state organization and gave it national prominence."

Married for 47 years to his wife, Jackie, the couple has a daughter, Lynda Tatum, who works for the Arizona Nursery Association in Phoenix, a son, Robert, who lives in West Linn, Ore., and five grandchildren.

Hannon is a marshal at the Westin Salishan Lodge & Golf Resort course, which is adjacent to his home. He enjoys visiting his family in Arizona and Portland, he plays golf, and he most recently took on the role of interim executive vice president of Garden Centers of America, a national organization of independent retail garden centers.

He is a hall of fame and honorary life member of the International Festival and Events Association, an honorary director of the Portland Rose Festival Association, and a recipient of the Oregon Society of Association Executives 1991 Management Excellence Award, the ANLA Golden Glove Award, the Voice of the Nursery Industry Award, the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Distinguished Service Award and the Pacific Coast Nurserymen's Outstanding Service Award. He is an honorary life member of the Nursery and Landscape Association Executives of North America and has received the OAN 1992 Special Service Award, 1995 Political Awareness Award and an Honorary Life Membership.

Hannon said he was pleased to be considered for the very honor he helped create. "It's unbelievable," he said. "When I was called, I was in a total state of shock. I never anticipated it. The realization still hasn't set in."

Norbert Kinen

Kinen spent nearly a quarter century as a manager at J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., one of the state's largest nurseries known for its shade tree production, before retiring in 2000. He was president of the OAN in 1994-95 and earned the utmost respect for his focus on legislative and labor issues, working closely with farm workers and members of Congress on guestworker issues.

Kinen's influence within the nursery industry stretches far beyond his career at J. Frank Schmidt & Son, according to J. Frank Schmidt III, company president and Chief Administrative Officer. "Norbert has not only contributed greatly to our company, but he has also recognized needs for the OAN and AAN (American Association of Nurserymen, now the American Nursery & Landscape Association) and has given a great deal of his time to help advance our whole industry," he said.

Norbert Kinen

Perhaps because he came into the nursery industry as an outsider with a fresh perspective, Kinen was always open to new ideas for marketing and promoting nursery stock. The transformation of Schmidt price lists into colorful, informative catalogs won the company national advertising awards and set a new benchmark for nursery marketing. His background as an educator helped the company recognize the value of dollars spent to educate customers and consumers.

"Return on dollars spent in support of horticultural research and in communicating with landscape architects, urban foresters, garden writers and others who influence the purchase of trees is hard to measure," Kinen said. "But I've always believed that it is a good investment and that it is possible to influence the marketplace through education and support of research.

"The Schmidt family has always been very generous in supporting research and educators, and this vision has served the company very well."

Ordained as a priest at 26, Kinen was named headmaster of the Abbey School of the Benedictine Holy Cross Abbey of Canon City, Colo. Seven years later he was elected abbot of the monastery, a position he held for several years, until making the difficult decision to leave the priesthood and begin a new life in a new environment.

While serving as abbot, Kinen had purchased numerous trees for the monastery landscape. The bare-root trees had come from Oregon, so he headed west in search of horticultural heaven, with a vague notion that he would like to grow trees in his new role as a private citizen. Before applying for work at any nursery, he called on local bankers to determine which companies were fiscally sound and growing. The name of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. kept cropping up, so he called for an appointment and landed the job.

Kinen is a past president of the International Ornamental Crabapple Society society and is the recipient of several industry awards, including the OAN Special Service Award in 1990, the Portland Chamber of Commerce Voice of the Industry Award in 1991, an OAN Honorary Life Membership in 1996 and the Pacific Coast Nurseryman Outstanding Service Award in 1999. He served the OAN in various offices, including presidency of the Mt. Hood Chapter in 1984 and on up the ladder to serve as OAN president in 1994-95. He chaired the OAN Image Task Force in 1998 and, in 1991, chaired the OAN Nursery License Task Force that helped increase the level of plant inspections performed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Much of the time following his retirement from the company on June 30, 2000, was spent comforting Kathy, his wife of 26 years, as she fought a battle with cancer that was lost on Feb. 18. Their son, Anthony, just graduated from Sam Barlow High School, and Kinen is looking forward to some father-son road trips this summer. The two enjoy spending time together at their home in Gresham, where Kinen grows trees for his own business, Kinen's Big & Phat Special Plants, so named by his son.

Phil Ward, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, will emcee the dinner event at J. Frank Schmidt Pavilion at the Oregon Garden. Plaques for Hannon and Kinen will be hung on the wall in the Oregon Nurserymen's Hall of Fame room inside the pavilion. There are currently 33 members of the Hall of Fame.

The Oregon Association of Nurserymen, based in Wilsonville, represents more than 1,400 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon's ornamental horticulture industry is the state's largest agricultural commodity, with 2001 sales of $680 million.

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