Sam Adolph Oakland
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Oakland, Sam Adolph 80 Mar. 17, 1934 Mar. 27, 2014 Ten days after his 80th birthday, Sam Oakland died at his home in Portland following a recurrence of pancreatic cancer. He had a lifelong enthusiasm for travel and adventure, and had recently been accepted as a Peace Corps Volunteer to Albania. During the Korean conflict, Sam quit school at 16 and joined the U.S. Navy. Following his service, he entered Michigan State University, receiving a B.A. in Humanities and an M.A. in Comparative Literature. He taught in the English Department at Eastern Washington University before moving to Portland State University. As a roving academic, he was awarded four Fulbright grants to Finland, Italy, Belarus and Moldova. He also taught and studied in Norway, England, Spain, Macedonia, China, Australia and Siberia. In 1967, he founded the Bicycle Lobby, which successfully promoted bicycle trails throughout Oregon. Following his retirement from Portland State, Sam earned a J.D. from the CUNY Law School. Most recently he was a park ranger with both the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. Sam is survived by his wife, Sara; son, Steven Anders Oakland (Patricia) of Arlington, Mass.; daughter, Sasha Kari Tinning (Michael) of Scappoose; five grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; sister, Evelyn Saunders of Tucson, Ariz.; two sisters-in-law; a brother-in-law; and many nieces and nephews. The family may be reached at:

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Published in The Oregonian from Mar. 28 to Mar. 30, 2014.
Memories & Condolences
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34 entries
April 19, 2014
Yes, Sam, we picked up a permit to forage for mushrooms on Wednesday. Sorry we missed you.

Glad we crossed paths.
Diane Awalt
April 5, 2014

April 05, 2014
For sure Sam was an adventurer, and collector. He cherished well made objects (art, pottery, toys, books and so on)with a joy I've not seen in most men. He loved trains, travel and new places. He made the best popcorn I ever had in my life, and it was lovely to watch a video from his very large collection of VHS tapes while we ate popcorn and drank one or another Portland microbrew beer.Often the
movies were classics. Sam and Sara have been my beloved friends since our college days, and it was always interesting to hear about Sam's latest adventure.
April 3, 2014
I knew Sam from way back in Southfield, Michigan days. We lived in the same neighborhood and several of the guys in the neighborhood hung out together. I remember when he quite abruptly left us to join the Navy. On furloughs he would regale us with stories of shipboard life and once told us about his trek up Mt. Fuji in Japan where he could have lost his life! He was always a robust, fun-loving guy then and it seems he remained that way throughout his life. Our paths never crossed after these early experiences but I remembered him nonetheless. An unforgettable character, indeed! May he rest in peace.
Don Douglas
April 2, 2014
Dear Sara, Andy, Sasha and Evelyn - I was greatly saddened to hear about Sam's passing. I am so grateful that he was able to visit with me a few months back. I know Sam always's had a special bond with my father. When he last visited he told me things I never knew about my Dad. I know when my Dad got mail from Sam, he would always laugh. Sam would always "puff up" the title on the envelope. Our mailman got to deliver mail to Admiral Rae Patterson, Chief of Staff Rae Patterson, Director of Justice Patterson. No bad for a retired Navy lieutenant. But my Dad loved it. I enjoyed his visit and the adventures that he related to us. To all of you, if you are ever in the San Diego area, please stop by. Kinfolk are always welcome. Love, and condolences
Cousin Larry Rae Patterson
April 2, 2014
Sharing a few cheerful walks with Sam was a highlight of my Willamette Heights life. I'll never forget his educational tour of hidden springs and small tributaries wandering thru our neighborhoods hills and dales. He inspired me with unstoppable curiosity and wonder of life.
Leslie Sears
April 2, 2014
Was Sam the person who arranged for people to walk on the Fremont Bridge before it was opened to car traffic?
Richard Carpenter
April 2, 2014
A kind-hearted man who made a difference. Not sure, however, if the garage project was finished Our thoughts and prayers are with Sam and Sara and your family.
David & Colleen Clarke
April 1, 2014
I was on the ride to Salem and Nancy and I have been friends with Sam and Sara over the ensuing decades. It's hard to see the light go out; it burned bright for so long!
Gary & Nancy Church
Gary & Nancy Church
April 1, 2014
Sara, I'm so sorry. I think I once thought Sam had a personal mission to make me crazy... but it was his way of saying he cared. He cared about everyone. He went with Code and Barry and I up to Mt Hood, I think to find the perfect Christmas tree... I don't remember now if we did that, but the tree wasn't the point of the trip anyway.
He dragged me into the bicycle lobby and I wound up writing a bicycle plan and then building the first pieces of Portland's Bicycle program... when Sam was off to teach Saga to the Idahoans and the bicycle lobby had become the Portland Bicycle Committee. I know Sam was proud of that.
We connected about every three or four years and I never knew whether to engage him with that favorite game of banter he had, or just fall to the ground with laughter at his latest adventure. For Sam, everything was an adventure, and most importantly, he wanted everyone to embrace his, and their own, adventure.
Isn't it wonderful, that so many others that have written, remember Sam so very fondly, (and that so many were his students in the few years that he taught here)? I too was an Oakland student... and studied with him into late evening at the Cheerful Tortoise more than once. I recently gave a young friend a copy of "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" and the memories of Sam, and his way of making teaching a personal experience was, nearly fifty years later, fresh. He became a very special friend and I'll miss him.
Jerry Powell
April 1, 2014
The Grimm family offers our condolences to Sam's family. My husband Ray, as a colleague at PSU and as a neighbor, was a partner in crime with Sam occasionally; getting involved with the Bike Lobby and happily accepting Sam's contributions of empty Danish beer bottles at the Glass Shack (Portland's and Oregon's first hot glass studio in the 60's). Sam, never predictable but always interesting and exciting.....a life fully lived.
Jere Grimm
March 31, 2014
I have had the great pleasure of meeting Sam and Sara at the goodwill where I work and I can say they are truly wonderful friends.I will be truly saddened to not see and hear about Sams great adventures anymore.He had a very good life and loving family.So sorry to the family for their lose.
Connie Perry
March 31, 2014
You helped steer my course in life.
Thank you for doing that.
Larry Chusid
March 31, 2014
In the early 70s Sam came into my office wearing his big grin and bearing some architectural drawings, which he rolled out on my conference table. "Let me show you The Bustle," he enthused, revealing one of his many unconventional but not-at-all crazy ideas. This bus was designed to carry state employees who lived in Portland to work in Salem. The vehicle would store their bicycles inside the back of the bus. Disembarking in Salem the passengers would ride their bikes to work. Reverse the process to return home. Thus, I was introduced to "The Bustle," one of Sam's contributions to mass transit, and many examples of word play.
I will miss this unique and wonderful man. My condolences to all who knew him for our loss.
David Hupp
March 31, 2014
As my professor, Sam not only taught me about English, but also about responsibility in life; the responsibility for action, and the cost of inaction. Thank you, Sam.
Garey Fouts, Portland
Garey Fouts
March 31, 2014
I am a Park Ranger at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and knew Sam when he was at Multnomah Falls. What a wonderful character! One of things that I will always remember about Sam is his desire and push to allow us to wear the old Forest Service "Campaign" hat. He got approval to do that and then provided me my very own hat. I think of Sam every time I see or wear it. I'm sure he's up in Heaven badgering God to make something up there better. He will be missed. Linda Turner, Park Ranger at the Discovrey Center, USDA FS CRGNSA
Linda Turner
March 31, 2014
In 1978, I had the enriching experience of attending one of Professor Oakland's English Lit classes at PSU. To this day, I can honestly say no one else engaged my imagination and sparked a love of learning like he did. He taught me to think in ways I never would have otherwise, but for his influence. I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing, and offer my sincerest condolences to his family.
Deena Azar
March 31, 2014
I also lived in N.W. Portland(Franklin Ct) and went on bike trips that Sam was involved in organizing. He was also a talented photographer. I remember going to a Willamette Heights historic and reunion fair at the Montgomery Park building and seeing excellent black and white photos of the bike trips, and seeing one of myself and my favorite dog; we were sitting on the curb and waiting for the rest of the riders to get ready...It brought back good memories for me.
If I could describe your dad Andy, I would say that he lived life with courage and sorry for you and your family's loss.
Lisa Cameron Greenburg
March 31, 2014
I enjoyed working with Sam when he was a volunteer Forest Service ranger at Multnomah Falls. What a character! Entertaining personality and a good heart. Sounds like he was taking life by the horns to the very end. A Peace Corp volunteer! He would have been great.
March 31, 2014
We were so lucky to have Sam as our neighbor during the 13 years we lived on Thurman St. Sam was full of interesting stories and we always enjoyed our visits with him! To Sara, Sasha and Steven, we are truly sorry for your loss.
David and Colleen Clarke
March 31, 2014
I am deeply sorry for your loss. I spent many days as a child
over at the Oakland's house in Willamette Heights with my great friend Sasha. Lots of good memories there and Sam always shared his big bowl of movie popcorn with us. So neat to find out he had just been accepted to the Peace Corps. Sending love to you all.
Kate (von Hinckeldey) Werdebaugh
Kate Werdebaugh
March 31, 2014
I wish I had known this pioneer and gentleman. Fortunate Portland...and Oregon...
Kent Worley
March 31, 2014
I always enjoyed Sam's occasional visits to our Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission board meetings. He always brought us fresh enthusiasms from his local crusades or world travels.
Mike Munk
March 31, 2014
We need more energy and shameless invention like Sam's in this city. A wonderful man I had the pleasure to know for many years.
Keith Tillstrom
March 30, 2014
I have counted on seeing Sam or Sara as I drive by on Thurman for the past 42 years. I am deeply saddened not to expect to see Sam wave me down anymore to share his latest adventure into the world.
Judy Vogland
March 30, 2014
Thank you so much Professor Oakland, for your support and inspiration as a teacher, scholar, advocate and activist. Condolences to the family. Requiescat en Pace
Scott Ritchie
March 30, 2014
Ranger Sam in Moldova, representing the U.S. in uniform.
I've known Sam for 40+ years; he was a neighbor in Willamette Heights. However, only recently did he and I connect regarding flags; as a result he enthusiastically joined the Portland Flag Association. Variously a professor of English and law, international lecturer, Forest Service and Park Service ranger, proud family man, and local political activist, Sam also collected flags. He began in the 1960s by buying surplus nautical flags at Zidell's shipbreakers for 25 cents each. By the end of his life he was ordering custom-made flags of obscure and historical designs from a seamstress in Dublin. He always flew several national or subnational flags on his house on NW Thurman. His colleagues in the PFA will miss his presentations and stories. Good-bye to polymath Sam Oakland.
Ted Kaye
March 30, 2014
Oregon lost a wonderful example of what one citizen can do on behalf of all. I just want the family to know how much he meant to many others. Thanks for your courage and your advocacy. You'll be missed. Peggy Lynch
March 30, 2014
Much sympathy to his family. I was a student of Professor Oakland in the early 70's and remember he invited the whole class to a Halloween party at his home one year--so kind! He was very inspirational and a totally interesting lecturer. We all rode bikes back then because he encouraged us. What a guy! Our world has lost a shining light.
Kathleen Hagerty
March 30, 2014
The Markgraf kids and our parents adored the friendship of the Oakland family. We kids loved it when Sam and Sara came over to watch a special movie with our parents, or just to talk, eat popcorn and drink Blitz beer.

For years Sam was our dad's best friend. For a joke, they exchanged inscribed photos of themselves from their time in the Navy. “To my buddy Sam.” “To my pal, Carl” They had these photos on their respective dressers. They were buddies and pals.

Sam and Sara were extremely precious to my parents. Sam was a good man and an adventurer. He let me steer his yawl before he sold it to Dana O.

We are sorry Sara, Andy and Sasha for your loss. All the Markgrafs send their love and affection.
Tom Markgraf
March 30, 2014
We met at Michigan State in a Mythology class and again many years later on Thurman St. where we both live. I cherish a booklet of his poems.
Judy Poxson Fawkes
March 30, 2014
Sam, Sam, Sam -- already miss you man. If any service is scheduled, please let me know where and when.
Doug Yocom (
March 30, 2014
I'll truly miss Sam's friendship, the great stories of his adventures and his updates on his very interesting life.
Mike Ryerson
March 30, 2014
Andy Oakland here. Please don't send flowers; my dad didn't want any. He wanted as little fuss as possible.
Andy Oakland
March 29, 2014
So very sorry for your loss. What a wonderful full life!
Judy McKim-Myers
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