Hello, My name is Jeff Lamb or known by some as Jeffrey R. Lamb or J. R. Lamb, a local business man and owner of Auto Cars Unlimited and Commercial Coatings Company, both still in business. I've been telling my friends now for quite some time that I've wanted to write a book about my life so I figured why not put a website together and start telling my story and call it "Philomath Community Server"
“I’ve been keeping my eye on you“, Nancy Flegal wagged her finger at Jeff Lamb back in the mid-1970s. “You don’t know it but you are going to work for me and don’t even think about saying ‘no’”. These words turned out to be prophetic. Several years afterwards, Jeff and Nancy teamed up on behalf of the Philomath Food Bank and Jeff was on his way to becoming a real “mover and shaker” in the city of Philomath.
Jeff was not originally from Philomath, nor was he from Oregon. Born in 1944 in Santa Monica California, he made his first trip north in 1967 on a vacation with his first wife. Although he loved what he saw there, it wasn’t until 1969 and his divorce, that he considered moving to Oregon. A mentor and friend suggested he head to Corvallis and apply for a job at the Farm Home, a residential facility for troubled youth. Since Jeff had been involved with Big Brothers of America for two years and had had some troubles himself as a teenager, he figured a job at the Farm Home might be a good fit. He also hoped that the Corvallis area might place where he could set down some roots, a goal that was increasingly important to a young man who had no real family.
Don Miller, executive director of the Farm Home, gave Jeff a job and put him in charge of the shop, working with kids and fixing everything that was broken. “I could relate to the kids because of my own experiences,” recalls Jeff. “It was good for me and good for the kids.” But he still didn’t feel like he really “belonged”.
Feeling restless, in 1970 Jeff applied for a job as services manager for Jack Scoville’s Auto Dealership in Corvallis. He had learned to do body and fender work from his stepfather---one useful skill from a guy who used to beat the young Jeff up.
Shortly afterwards, Jeff opened his own business, Commercial Coatings Co., painting Pepsi machines red, white and blue for Mario Pastega. Mario took Jeff in under his wing and helped him establish the business.
His entrepreneurial tendencies then led him to start Auto Cars Unlimited, specializing in auto body and paint work, in his garage on Grant Street in Corvallis and then later in Philomath for 35 years. Using his connection with the Farm Home, he brought kids into the business as apprentices, teaching them the trade. He estimates he taught over 50 young men over the years, with many of them going on to start their own businesses.
By 1974, his shop had expanded and he was making friends in the community. Playing the guitar in several bands, he met many local artists and musicians and was feeling like he finally had some roots.
He was invited to a party in Blodgett and found the home he has lived in ever since---almost 40 years! In 1975, “it was a dump”, says Jeff. Jeff transformed the rat-trap into a rural estate with a park-like setting.
Meanwhile, still eager to “belong somewhere and to something”, he got involved in Philomath activities. He joined the Lions Club, attended the first fundraiser for the Philomath Youth Activities Club (PYAC) and sponsored baseball and football teams. After a couple of years, it became clear to everyone that Jeff had a great deal of energy, enthusiasm and a knack for getting things done. This is when Nancy Flegal formally made Jeff a deal he couldn’t refuse. At this time, she was famous for riding her bicycle around town, soliciting donations for the Philomath Food Bank which she had managed since 1976. As owner of a local business, Jeff was one of her benefactors. After getting to know her, he felt comfortable enough to start making suggestions. “You gotta start thinking bigger, Nancy, bigger than $5 or a can of beans.”
As a result, in 1982, Jeff helped Nancy with the Philomath Food Bank’s first big fundraiser. He hosted it at his Auto Car Unlimited building and hired a band, provided food and staged a car show on the site. It was a huge success.
Planning that initial fundraiser “was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Jeff remembers. For the first time, he felt like he was really part of the community and was actively helping people. He belonged to something.
With all of the Philomath projects Jeff was becoming involved in, he still found time to contribute his time and energy in his Coast Range home of Blodgett. He used his considerable organizational skills on a benefit/fundraiser at the Holiday Tree Farm for Bob and Laurene Olsen’s 15 year old daughter who was suffering from leukemia. Even Jeff was surprised at how the community came together when over 500 people turned up at this wildly successful event.
About this time, Pacific Power donated $5000 to the community of Philomath to survey the locals and assess their visions for the future. With this seed money, a group of civic leaders came up with the Philomath 2000 Plan after much community, city government and business input. Taking note of Jeff’s organizational talents, in 1986, Board President Don Gist asked Jeff to be on the board of Philomath 2000. He accepted the offer. The first order of business was to help secure a place for a park and a civic center, which at that point didn’t exist.
When the Betty Olson farmstead, located on the southwest side of Philomath on 11th and Applegate came up for sale in 1987, the board had found the perfect location for this project. Philomath 2000 in partnership with the city of Philomath purchased 28 acres for $50,000 allowing the city to develop Marys River Park with the intent that the site would become Philomath’s new civic center.
By 1991, it became evident that Nancy needed to slow down and the Food Bank needed its own nonprofit status to avoid having to rely on other clubs and social services to provide it. The board applied for 501-C-3 status in 1992 and created Philomath Community Services (PCS) as the umbrella organization for the Food and the Baby Banks.
That same year, Jeff was asked to be fundraising chairman for the library project, the next step of the Philomath 2000 Project Plan. The board had helped the city acquire 4 acres between 9th and 11 St. in front of Marys River Park by negotiating the sales price with the owners. One acre was designated for the library, one for the Police Station, one for the City Hall and one for a community center. Once again, Jeff proved to be a highly effective fundraiser and the library was completed in 1995.
Also in 1991, Bart and Bond Starker donated a mobile home trailer to house the Baby Bank which was looking for a new home. It was moved from 19th Street to a spot behind the Fire Station near the Philomath Food Bank and was headed up by June Anderson.
Five years later, however, in 1999, the Philomath Fire Department needed the land and asked the Food and Baby Banks to find a new location. Jeff was asked to be the Vice President of the Philomath Community Services board and to head the Capital Campaign Committee in charge of raising funds to buy property and a new facility for the Food and Baby Banks which were growing too big for the trailers in which they were housed.
In July of 2000, Jeff organized one of the biggest fundraising events yet, at Rollie and Joan Bower’s Morgan Manor outside of Philomath.
Thanks to Doyle and Harriet Hughes’ generous donation of land, conveniently located next to Marys River Park and behind the new civic buildings, the monies raised from the benefit could be used exclusively for the new PCS facility. Once the Food and Baby Banks had moved into these new facilities the Philomath Gleaners also had a new home. Jeff felt he had accomplished his mission and stepped down from the PCS board as fundraising chairman and Vice President.
In 2004, Jeff rejoined the PCS board when he saw that it seemed to be in disarray. To his dismay, he realized that the new buildings still did not have any heat, making it very uncomfortable for the volunteers. In 2007, when he was elected as President, his number one priority was to get heat for the building.
Once again, he accomplished his mission. He continued to serve on the board, helping to improve and expand PCS: adding a 20 KW generator and new shelving; installing an awning for the front of the building; establishing a website; adding a second floor; installing security lighting on the building and parking lot…..and the list goes on. Two new programs, Lupe’s Community Garden and Holiday Cheer, were added to PCS.
Unfortunately, in 2012, a disgruntled group of citizens accused Jeff of mismanagement, restricting access to documents and of being a bully. The rest of the board was targeted as well. Though there was never any proof of these allegations, the entire board was forced to resign.
The following are some of the organizations and projects I've been involved in over the years. Big Brothers of America, Old Mill School, OSU Corvallis Heritage Classic Concours D'Elegance Car Show, Philomath Community Services which houses five wonderful community service projects; Philomath Food Bank, June's Kids Kloset, Gleaners, Lupe Maginnis Community Garden and Holiday Cheer. I was a founding member and president of Oregon Citizens for a Voice in Annexation O.C.V.A.. I spent time actively involved in the Philomath Chamber of Commerce and was the founder of the Philomath's Mary's River Rod Run which eventually evolved in into the Philomath Classic Car Show which the chamber still sponsors today, also The Samaritan Awards Program and Philomath's new Christmas Tree project which were chamber programs. I was also involved with the Philomath 2000 Project which spawned programs such as the Annual Walk for Trees which led to Philomath being named a Tree City USA community and Mary's River Park and New Civic Center. Philomath 2000 became the Philomath Community Foundation in 1998. One of my most enjoyable projects however was working on the Philomath Library Project. This was a long 1991 to 1995 intense project which ran into many obstacles. The Davis Bacon Labor Act shut the project down at one time but we were able to overcome the federal Labor Department ruling with the help of Senator Mark Hatfield, Bob Packwood and others. With the help of these people and the community volunteers we were able to provide our community with a new beautiful library and new Community Civic Center.
This is just a small portion of my story and I will be adding to it and updating these pages continually, so I hope you enjoy what you read here and please come back from time to time to see what's new!