Q&A with Dick Lamster

Dick Lamster, 72, sprinter, is a premier volunteer. While lord of the manor and 10 acres on Fox Hollow Road, five miles south of Eugene, his second home is Hayward Field where he has worked most every track meet in the past 17 years. He has twice been the Hayward Classic ramrod, twice president of the OTC Masters, and is presently on the OTC board, and in numerous positions in the Audubon Society, and with a long and distinguished history at the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum. Raised and educated in South Dakota, he served 4 1/2 years as an Army officer, including duty in Viet Nam. On discharge, he hastened to the University of Oregon for a Master’s degree (later another at the University of Michigan), and had a successful career in Oregon as a civilian in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as a Natural Resource Manager.

1. When I waxed wordy about your volunteer obsession, you quickly pointed out there were many others who have served (and continue to serve) even longer at Hayward Field, with about 150 experienced volunteers in all. Surely there is no other such dedication and expertise in the United States, and all of it an area of only 300,000 (hosting the 2021 World Track & Field Championships). Why such civic and volunteer dedication? How and why did you dedicate yourself? Benefits to you?

I believe people volunteer for lots of reasons. I guess I also do it for several reasons including: to give back to the community, lots of track officials worked the track meets I was in during high school and college, so I am doing it now for these kids; the social aspect: there are many quality, nice, friendly people who do volunteer work; working as a team to accomplish good goals; using my expertise, knowledge and experience to do something needed by the community; feeling good about working hard and reaching a goal; feeling needed and appreciated; it is simply enjoyable and makes me feel good.

2. Don’t Eugenians have better, more important things to do? Or is it just they were born with the luxury and strength for 28 hour days, while the rest of us must get it done in 24 hours?.

I would go with the 28 hours thing. It helps me to have a great spouse who supports what I do (and vice versa). We eat well, sleep well and get eight hours every night so we have lots of energy in the morning; not sweating the small stuff;having great friends that we laugh a lot with; wine; chocolate; great dog; enjoying life with a good attitude. Good health allows you to be more efficient and not have to worry or spend time with doctors, appointments, pills, etc.

3. You have a kinda funny, kinda poignant story about the over abundance of highly experienced volunteers. Details please.

I am not sure about the overabundance of volunteers as we recruit and train new officials every year (just had a training session last Saturday). However, having Hayward Field and the U of O here with the long history of support by the community for Track and Field, all helps. We still have to treat officials well, make them feel welcomed and important, train them about safety, details of all the rules, etc. People like to be part of a team that is successful and accomplishes good things. We know most high schools, colleges and universities do not have enough officials to properly stage a good, quality track meet so we feel fortunate to have good, quality officials and other volunteers here in Eugene to do just that.

4.. You played football and ran track in high school and college while in South Dakota. You’ve continued the track, but not football. Why? Best track times in the last and present century?

I loved football, but I was the second smallest guy on the college team, but the fastest. I guess I thought I would be more successful on the track team and that did work out. Besides, those big football guys were constantly trying to hurt me! My times since I turned 70 have not been very good, partially because of a nagging Achilles Tendon problem. I have run in the 15 – 16 second range for 100 meters but firmly believe I will do better this year. (Typical philosophy of a masters athlete.) College times were also not that great, but it was over 50 years ago and we ran yards then in 9.6 wind aided, 9.8 several times sometimes against the wind!

5. Best lesson your parents ever taught you?

Honesty, respect for others and we are all the same. They also really believed in
education. They only had high school diplomas but their five kids all graduated from college and ended up with 10 college degrees total. And about being a volunteer. My dad was a track & field official for 52 years at the local high school. Both of my parents volunteered for Boy and Girl Scouts, church activities, sport man’s clubs, school activities and committees, community events, etc. They never had much money (raising five kids) so I guess they thought they could give their time rather than money.

6. Personal daily exercise routine:

Walk the dog with my wife, mid-morning and again late afternoon on our ten acre home site, rain or shine. Then, do something more physical every day. I now run every other day but do other things also such as push a mower around the hillside, chop wood, haul firewood up the hill, fix fences and barns, prune fruit trees, work in the garden, paint buildings, you get the picture.

7. What did you have for breakfast? Usual breakfast time?

First thing I do in the morning is walk up to the road and get the newspaper. Then I always eat a good breakfast of toast with lots of peanut butter, cereal with milk and a big glass of orange juice. I usually eat 4 or 5 small meals a day and try to eat small quantities. My wife is really a good influence in my eating habits with fresh vegetables and fruit from the garden and orchard, dried fruit from our orchard in the winter. My vices are chocolate and Coke, but I try to do both in moderation

8. In your recent years, what has become more important and less important?

Many of my old high school and college classmates have died, and one of my best friends is dying right now. I have never had one of them tell me they wish they had more money. They did wish they had better health.

9. What would you do/have/be if you had 20 million dollars?

If I had a lot of money I would be trying to save the environment, especially working on issues pertaining to clean air and water. Without clean air and water, nothing else matters.

10. What defeat or disaster later turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to you?

When I was a sophomore in high school I had the tip of my little finger cut off. I thought I was damaged for life, girls would not like me, felt sorry for myself and wanted special treatment. My right hand had this huge bandage and splint and I could barely write. I was taking a timed written test in Mrs. Heer’s class and before the test started, I asked for more time since I was “handicapped”. She said “no” and to make it work and to not expect special treatment in life. It made me mad, but I got through the test, got an “A’” and learned a life lesson.

11. Three things that make you grumpy?

Don’t let yourself get grumpy. You are in charge of your life.

12. Stuff you do, besides running, that most people would consider insane?

Bird watching. My wife and I travel all over the world looking for birds we have not seen. We also enjoy the culture and food of other countries and the architecture, mammals, butterflies, flowers, rocks, scenery, trees, etc. I have given over 200 workshops and programs on birds and backyard habitat, mostly in the Eugene area. … Maeve and I met on a bird watching field trip 26 years ago and married three years later – go figure!

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