Rock Star Dave Hillman
by Gayle Marechal
(Published April 2021)
No history of the Friends of Mt. Tabor Park would be complete without the story of Dave Hillman’s involvement in the organization. From the first small gathering at Bertha Guptill’s house to the opening of the Visitor Center and many of the milestones along the way, Dave was there lending his signature style to solving park problems and helping fulfill needs he saw. That style—identify a problem or need, formulate a solution, and get busy working on the solution—is what has made Dave an invaluable asset to Friends of Mt. Tabor Park, and the numerous awards and honors he has received attest to his value to the park.
Once Friends of Mt. Tabor Park was established, Dave began making sure people knew about the organization. He rarely let a month go by that he did not get an article published in SE Examiner about Friends of Mt. Tabor Park. He was also an active recruiter for Friends and used his persuasive ways to encourage those he saw while walking in the park to join the fledgling organization. As the organization grew, Dave realized that some sort of training was necessary for those going out on foot patrol, but no effective training model existed for an organization such as Friends of Mt. Tabor Park. The solution for Dave was easy: create a training program.
As Friends grew, its needs and what it did grew, and out of those needs came the hut where vests, tools, and a logbook were kept. Then came the annual picnic and the annual meeting, events open to all so that others could see firsthand what Friends of Mt. Tabor Park was all about. Dave offered the foot patrol as a source of volunteers to help at the summer concerts in the park and in 2009 he organized a Centennial Celebration for the park.
While a member of Portland Park and Recreation Budget Advisory Committee, Dave attended a meeting at Hoyt Arboretum, which has a visitor center. Dave’s reaction: why not a visitor center at Mt. Tabor Park? He went to work on this idea, and Mt Tabor Park’s visitor center became a reality and stands as a testament to what can be accomplished by one person’s vision and his willingness to work towards making that vision a reality.
When asked what he sees as his most significant contribution to the park, Dave mentioned the “respect” people now have for Mt. Tabor Park. Before Friends existed, many living near the park had a negative view of the park and did not always feel safe there. Dave feels that after Friends was formed and regular foot patrols began in the park, the park “came back to life.” One label often attached to Mt. Tabor Park is “gem.” Dave Hillman helped bring back the luster to the gem that is Mt. Tabor Park.