Oddo Service Award | University of Portland

Oddo Service Award

Established in 1983, and rededicated in 1991 to honor the University's late 17th president, the Rev. Thomas C. Oddo, C.S.C., Outstanding Service Award recognizes a University of Portland, Columbia University, or Columbia Prep alumnus or alumna who has demonstrated the University's mission through volunteerism in his or her own community; helped prepare others for service to God, neighbor, and the world; inspired others in their service work by being a leader; and is living a life consistent with the University's mission.

Recent Oddo Service Award Recipients:

2023 - Leslie Hayes ‘02

Leslie graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance. She attended Gonzaga University School of Law, graduating cum laude and currently serves as Deputy Chief Administrative Hearing Officer with the Office of Administrative hearings, a new agency in the state of Idaho. She is active in the Idaho bar association, previously serving as the Chair and Vice Chair of the Employment Law Section, and currently serving as a member of the Appellate and Litigation Section Governing Councils, and volunteering to grade bar exams. She is active in Idaho Women Lawyers and currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors. During her career she has represented clients in all Idaho state courts, the United States District Court for the District of Idaho, the Western District of Washington, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. She is also a proud Girl Scout Mom and Volunteer!

2023 - Samuel Stucki ‘18

Sam received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2018. From 2018-2022 and worked as a mechanical engineer for SSOE Group, in Hillsboro, OR.  In the Summer of 2022 Sam made a change and began serving as a Missionary with the St. John Society at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Portland, OR. IIn his role, his mission is to serve the poorest of the city by building authentic friendships with them. He spends his days walking through the city, with no agenda other than seeing old friends and finding new ones. Equally forming aspects of the mission include also serving within an active and evangelizing parish, living an intentional community life with other missionaries, and being formed spiritually and intellectually by priests and religious sisters. Sam reflected on his time as a RA in Villa with this profound vision “I was blessed to be a Resident Assistant for two years in Villa. A time of leadership that was defined the most by service. I learned that being a leader is not about the authority I am given or the knowledge and power I have, but instead about how I serve those I am with. I learned how to guide, support, and build up new leaders. Presently, I’ve found myself still serving and leading. This time in a faith community and in a street community.” While Sam’s commitment finishes in June, he has felt an invitation from God to continue this service and will be coming back again next September to live a second year as a Mercy Missionary in Portland.

2022 - Wendy Richards ’87

Wendy Natarte Richards graduated from the University of Portland in 1987. While at the University of Portland, Wendy met her future husband and in 1988, she and Reid JK Richards – who is also a graduate of the University of Portland, class of 1988 – moved back home to Oahu, Hawaii. Wendy is passionate about family values and is active in the community. She currently sits on the Board for two local Hawaii non-profit organizations which focus on families and children. The non-profit closest to her heart is the family foundation created in memory of her late husband Reid. The foundation, created by Reid’s family – The Reid JK Richards Foundation – focuses on providing educational scholarships to youth who have lost a parent or primary caregiver to death. All funds raised from both go towards the scholarships. Wendy’s favorite part of the work the foundation does is meeting and getting to know their scholarship recipients as well as meeting the donors who help graciously support us and our mission.

2021 - Not awarded

2020 - Not awarded

2019 - Margarita Bautista Gay ’87

Since graduating from the University of Portland in 1987, Margarita Bautista Gay has dedicated her career to serving the people of Guam as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. Inspired and emboldened by her educational experience at UP, she earned her master’s degree in nursing from Washington State University and immediately began to give back to the field of nursing education. She taught as an assistant professor for the School of Nursing at the University of Guam from 1996 until 2004 and served as executive director for the Guam Board of Nurse Examiners. Over her 29 years in NICU nursing and medical administration, Margarita has worked at Guam Memorial Hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit, and served as administrator for the Bureau of Family Health & Nursing Services. As a mother of three, Margarita knows how essential proper medical care is for the overall health of families and has worked tirelessly to provide outreach to at-risk communities with immunizations, disease prevention education, family planning, worksite wellness screenings, and health fairs—all often for clients who are underinsured or uninsured. In 2009, Margarita was given the Nurse of the Year award by the Guam Nurses Association. She currently works as the chief of nursing for Guam Public Health. Margarita credits UP with teaching her to remember her medical ethics in every situation she encounters and to rely on her spirituality as she serves her community.

2018 - Katie Hughes ’02
Katie Hughes' father died in a tragic accident before she was born, and her mother turned to her three daughters to help keep their home in good repair. When there was work to be done, the girls dove into their father’s workshop filled with his tools, and taught themselves how to repair whatever was broken. At University of Portland, Katie embraced the call to service, volunteering her time through the Moreau Center. She graduated with a degree in social work, and traveled to the East coast to work for AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity. Observing that female volunteers were intimidated by construction on building sites, Hughes was inspired to teach the building trades to women. After returning to Oregon, Katie taught carpentry at Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. and within a few years, she founded Girls Build, taking her mission of education and empowerment to young women age 8 – 14. Hughes runs camps for the girls, teaching them over 10 different trades, including plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. She believes that learning these skills builds self-confidence and empowers women of all ages to imagine new possibilities.

Hughes was featured for her work with Girls Build in the podcast Returning the Favor with Mike Rowe. Watch the episode.

2017 - Tina Casola ’96
Tina credits her undergraduate experience at University of Portland with giving her the tools to pursue her career as a licensed mental health clinician and for giving her the desire to make a difference in her community. Specializing in therapy for first responders suffering from trauma, Tina has helped military veterans, emergency service personnel, and members of the general population who suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and other stress-related disorders. Many of Tina’s clients had been reluctant to seek help or reveal their struggles for fear of having a negative impact on their careers. Tina’s reputation for facilitating effective treatments for PTSD has encouraged first responders and veterans to have the courage to seek her help. As the American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Advisor for San Diego and Imperial Counties, Tina regularly volunteers in emergency situations. Last summer she worked in the evacuation centers set up for victims of wildfires in California, offering trauma counseling to those forced to leave their homes. Tina works to raise awareness of the possibility of managing PTSD. Currently the Director of Behavioral Health for the San Diego Firemen’s Association and Fire Family Services, she frequently speaks to fire departments and other organizations about cumulative stress, its emotional and physical effects on those who suffer from it, and how to successfully address it. Tina’s concern for emergency service personnel and veterans has inspired her work.  Through her compassionate care, she has had an immeasurable impact on the lives of those who feel that, through her intervention, they have been given a second chance at life.

2016 - Julie Johnson '86
Julie Hannon Johnson, now principal of Holy Cross Catholic School in north Portland, earned a law degree from Santa Clara and for nine years worked as a public defender for indigent people, “serving the most vulnerable among us,” as she says. She then earned a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Portland and taught in Saint Helens for another nine years before becoming principal at Holy Cross, where she has, in six years, balanced the budget, overseen a soaring enrollment, concentrated on finding financial aid for a very economically diverse school, and welcomes the University’s Freshman Plunge every year, as well as tutors for her students from Villa Maria. “The mission of the University is the mission of my life,” she says – “to be an instrument of Christ’s hope in a world too often left in darkness…to make a powerful difference in the lives of children…to live out Jesus’ ‘what you have done to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.'”

2015 - Stan Muessle '62
The essence of the late Father Tom Oddo’s life and work on The Bluff as University president was open-hearted service to others. Tom was absolutely convinced that when we reach out to others we are closest to Christ, we pray most powerfully, we rise to our best and truest selves. And that has been the driving force of Stan Muessle’s work. Stan is an Air Force ROTC alumnus, a former ASUP Senator, and former member of the men’s golf team. He then had a long and successful career in software development and marketing at IBM. But that was only the beginning of his greatest mission in life. After retiring from IBM, he parlayed his professional experience into a means to help improve the education of students in the developing world, especially in Tanzania. As founder and president of the educational non-profit, Global Outreach, Stan has worked to establish computer laboratories, furnish electricity, install hardware and software, train teachers and technicians, provide ongoing technical support, develop computer literacy, build libraries, and establish partnerships with sister schools in the US. Thousands of students have had their lives and prospects elevated and brightened by Stan and Global Outreach.

2014 - Joe Womac '00
Joe Womac, the executive director of the Specialty Family Foundation in Santa Monica, California, has devoted his career to Catholic education and has made such an impact that in 2012 the White House recognized him as one of nine national “champions of change.” After graduating from University of Portland with degrees in communication and political science, he earned a master’s in education from Notre Dame (through the Alliance for Catholic Education program, in which he taught in Louisiana Catholic schools), and a doctorate in law from Seattle University. From 2004 to 2013 he was the executive director of the Fulcrum Foundation, which raised $65 million for 73 Catholic schools in the Seattle area. This funding allowed more than 12,000 low-income students to attend Catholic schools – with several inner-city school enrollments doubling in less than a year.

2013 - Jack Roscoe '64
To present the Father Tom Oddo Award for Service every year is to, of course, pause and remember Father Tom, the University’s 17th president – cheerful, beloved, and taken from us all too young. But it was his tireless call to service we remember best – his gentle but relentless insistence that the best gift we can give is ourselves, our energy, our witness, our attentiveness. And this is the theme and story of Jack Roscoe’s life, from service as an Air Force Cadet as a student to service in the Vietnam War; from service as the University’s Air Force commander to years of hard work as residence life director; from ministerial visits to prisons and jails, to his greatest work of all, as husband and father; from long service as a deacon of the Catholic Church to years of heartrending service to children through CASA, the Court-Appointed Special Advocates who save the lives of children at terrible risk in our communities. We can happily tease Jack Roscoe for his famously blunt honesty and terse command of all situations; we can celebrate the amazing fact that eight of the nine members of his immediate family have earned University of Portland degrees, which is probably an all-time record; but most of all today is a chance for the University community to say thank you to a superb and selfless example of prayer in action. We pray by what we do, as Father Tom Oddo said – and today we thank the lean blunt holy prayer we call Jack Roscoe, of the Class of 1964.

2012 - Matt Powell '84
Here’s a sentence to remember crystal-clear about Matt Powell — he helped start a wild energetic creative effective amazing high school, and now he’s the president of that school. That’s not a sentence you hear every day. Imagine what that sentence really means, though. It means a million chances for kids to wake up and discover their incredible talents. It means a million moments when teachers and staff see a kid’s huge heart and future clear and clean and glorious. It means a million chances for kids to leap for a better life. It means a million chances for the universe to tip a little closer to mercy and joy and love and prayer and healing and wonder. It also means a million meetings for Matt, and a million hours worrying; and he’s busy enough anyway, what with his family, coaching and running the parish CYO at Holy Family, and being one of the founding members of the cristo rey network as well. We would laud and celebrate Matt’s integrity, creativity, and cheerful faith in action no matter what his profession; but if ever there was an alumnus who took the University’s educational mission to heart, who understood and worked as hard as he could to open and elevate the lives of the young, it is Matt Powell — and that is why we honor him today with the award named for another great University man who devoted his whole life and soul to changing the lives of the young: the late and beloved University president Father Tom Oddo.

2011 - Tamara Faris '00
The essence of the late Father Tom Oddo’s life and work on The Bluff as president was cheerful, open-hearted, intent service to others. Tom was absolutely convinced that when we reach out to others we are closest to Christ, we shove the universe toward joy, we pray most powerfully, we rise to our best and truest selves. And this is the hallmark of Tamara Faris’s extraordinary Memory Book project, which now has blossomed in India, Mexico, and all over Africa. Starting as a simple scrapbook idea for a South African orphanage six years ago, the project now supplies 22,000 memory books to children in nine countries, with more to come. To hand the tools for creativity and story and music to children in orphanages, schools, churches, and towns in regions often in turmoil is to awaken them to their own divine gifts and joys, to instill confidence and self-esteem, to help them savor the amazing power and prayer of story to elevate lives. In a wonderful way, Tamara’s hard work is the University’s mission in direct and daily action, and a lovely celebration of Tom Oddo’s legacy of service. What you did for the least of us, you did for me, says Christ; and we honor Tamara Faris for steering by those words every hour of the day.

2010 - Matt '84 & Erin '80 Weisensee
The essence of the late Father Tom Oddo’s life and work on The Bluff as president was cheerful, open-hearted, intent service to others. Tom was absolutely convinced that when we reach out to others we are closest to Christ, we shove the universe toward joy, we pray most eloquently and powerfully, we rise to our best and truest selves. And this is the hallmark of Erin and Matt’s extraordinary creative work for Holy Redeemer Parish, for the Saint Vincent de Paul Downtown Chapel, for the miraculous L’Arche Nehalem project in Portland, and for the University, which they have graced in many ways as exemplary alumni. To their own four children, to the refugee family from Burundi they have adopted, to their hundreds of friends and admirers, they are the University’s mission in direct and daily action, pouring their humor and energy into any and every way they can bring light to the lives of others. The University is delighted to count Erin and Matt among its most able and eloquent ambassadors, and especially pleased to honor them today with an award named for a beloved priest who devoted every fiber of his being to elevating the lives of others. What you did for the least of us, you did for me, says Christ; and we honor you for steering by those words every hour of the day.

2009 - Joseph White '82
Joseph P. White, class of ‘82, has been selected by the University of Portland National Alumni Board and University President Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., as this year’s recipient of the Rev. Thomas C. Oddo, C.S.C., Outstanding Service Award. Six years ago, Joe and his nine-year old son, Tyler suffered two losses within three months of each other.  Both Joe’s mother and his wife Lori Stumvoll White, class of ’84, died of ovarian cancer.  Since then Joe has devoted himself to the mission of funding and finding a cure through research for ovarian cancer. Joe served the past three years as President of the Board of Directors of the Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research. In this capacity, Joe has been a leader in fundraising endeavors, most specifically a golf tournament and an auction/dinner which he started from scratch, raising close to $1 million over several years. As Board President, Joe led a strategic planning effort that moved the Rivkin Center from being a small, local organization to one that is an internationally recognized, sustainably funded research institute. In the seven years that Joe has been a member of the Board, they have raised over $7 million for cancer research.   Joe’s leadership has a national scope as well, as the Rivkin Center is now partnering with other research institutes and advocacy groups, leading ovarian cancer research from small local research initiatives into more of a national coalition.  In his support of the University, Joe has been a devoted donor. Though he and his son live in Issaquah, Washington he has attended the annual Alumni Reunion and the UP Alumni golf tournament when his travel schedule and his role as Executive Vice President of Sales at Attenex, Inc., a Seattle-based software company, allow.  

2008 - Kathy Perko '84
The essence of the late Father Tom Oddo’s life and work on The Bluff as president was cheerful, open-hearted, intent service to others. Tom was absolutely convinced that when we reach out to others we are closest to Christ, we bring the universe toward joy, we pray most powerfully. And this is the heart of Kathy’s work as pediatric nurse practitioner and creator and director of the Bridges Program at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. It was Kathy who invented a way to gather doctors, nurses, ministers, and family into a team to shepherd a child near death prayerfully into God’s hands. With University regent Mark Ganz’s help, the Bridges Program was born, the first of its kind in Oregon; and Kathy also lends her capacious talents and energies to Catholic Charities, to the Alexa Dyer Foundation, to the Nick Wilson Charitable Group, to the Children’s Cancer Association, and to nurses, physicians, support staff, and community leaders around the nation. The University is delighted to count Kathy among its most able and eloquent ambassadors, and especially pleased to honor her with an award named for a man who also devoted every fiber of his being to elevating the lives of the young.

2007 - Steven '78 & Suzanne '81 Taylor
Steven Taylor, ’78 and Suzanne Taylor, ’81 are each notable for their own commitment to service, but it is their mutual support of each other that allows them the ability to effectively multiply their efforts. Together, Steven and Suzanne volunteer their time as unpaid coordinating couple for Oregon Retrouvaille, a faith-based ministry for distressed marriages. They help facilitate in-depth weekend workshops and extended follow-up sessions for couples participating in Retrouvaille.

In her professional life, Suzanne Becker Taylor currently works as Director of Tax for Legacy Health Systems. Over the years she has served on the National Alumni Board for the University and has regularly attended the annual Reunion as well as being a Pilot Basketball season ticket holder with her husband, Steven. With Steven, Suzanne has been an Annual Fund Donor. During her many years of volunteerism, Suzanne was actively involved with the Delaunay Mental Health Center (founded by Father John B. Delaunay, C.S.C., professor of philosophy and education at the University and first head of the psychology department). Suzanne was a member of the board of the Delaunay Mental Health Center for over 10 years and served as Chair during the fundraising campaign to open a new building. She has also served as chair of the St. Clare parish and school administrative council and was a member of the school building committee that oversaw the building of a new middle school at St. Clare.

Steven Taylor works as a practicing attorney, teaches in the paralegal program at PCC, is an adjunct professor at the University of Portland and continues to volunteer his time as a UP Mock Trial coach, as he has over the past several years. He serves as a member of the Oregon State Bar Client Security Fund which oversees payment of claims to victims of attorney fraud. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

2006 - Richard Brown '46 CP, '50, '59
Richard R. Brown retired in 1990 from the Canby [Ore.] School district after 40 years of service. He served as a teacher, coach, counselor, principal and superintendent. He is the founding member and past president of the Canby Rotary Club and Canby Booster Club. He is a pillar of the Canby community, working with numerous committees and organizations. In 2004 Canby High school honored Dick by naming the fine arts hall The Richard R. Brown Fine Arts Center. Dick’s passion for community and involvement does not stop at the Canby city limits; he has also devoted his energies toward the UP community as an active participant in the Columbia Prep Reunion, the monthly football lunches and the UP Reunion. In addition, Dick is a basketball season ticket holder and a consistent donor.

2005 - Omar Halvorson '48
The University, first and foremost, is composed not so much of halls and gardens, lawns and classes, as it is composed of its people – indeed, the proper photograph of the University of Portland, were we to be able to capture such a miracle, would be every student whose heart and mind and soul ever opened here, every professor and staffer who ever poured their creative talents into such awakenings, every friend and regent who took the University so much to heart, and every alumnus and alumna whose life after leaving The Bluff continued to bring the crucial convictions of the University’s mission to his and her community. Such a talented alumnus has been this man, who studied literature and philosophy at the University and then went forth to study and practice law – really to work, with all his considerable skills and intellect, for justice. In private practice, in service to the state of Oregon, in service to the federal departments of Energy and the Interior, Omar Halvorson worked for clean air and water, for fair conduct, for a community and a nation bound by the principles at the heart of the University’s life. That he also was graced and educated by his extraordinary wife and their nine children, that he has donated many thousands of hours to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and his parish and the Providence Child Center and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, and, of course, the University itself in various capacities, is a testament not only to his communal devotion but to a truly startling amount of energy. For his immense labors on behalf of so very many constituencies, and for the way he has brought a silver-plated mind and a literary man’s eloquence to bear in service to family, state, church, and nation, the University community bows in gratitude to a great 1948er.

2004 - Rev. Joseph Peixotto, C.S.C. '54
 Rev. Joseph S. Peixotto, C.S.C., ’54 is being recognized for his efforts in Bangladesh, where he was a teacher and later became president of Notre Dame College in Dhaka. He strives to assist the local populace in taking control over their own spiritual well being and provides leadership to lay people wanting to become more involved with the church.

2003 - Julianne Johnson '83
 Julianne Johnson is a dynamic and passionate individual who uses her voice to spread hope, love and joy. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Marshall High School, directs theatre throughout the city and records CD’s with Michael Allen Harrison. She has appeared in numerous films and several television series. She has an under- graduate degree in theatre from the University of Portland and a graduate degree in theatre from the University of Washington. She has also donated her time and talent to numerous worthy charities such as The Fabric of Life/Aids Foundation, the Race for the Cure, the Alexandra Ellis Foundation for Children’s Cancer Research and The American Cancer Society. She has been a featured performer on KKJZ and K103, KATU Spirit 2 AM Northwest and KPTV Channel 12’s Good Day Oregon. She has shared the stage with a wide variety of famous and infamous individuals — Jerry Lewis, President George W. Bush, former vice president Al Gore, Tom Selleck, Gregory Hines, Martin Sheen and the Temptations. She is currently a class representative for Reunion 2003 and an Alumni Career Network Mentor. The University is honored to recognize her as one of our alumni.

2002 - Charles Wilber '57
Scholar, teacher, Catholic activist, Peace Corps volunteer, trusted consultant to the U.S. Catholic bishops, Chuck Wilber is a smiling exemplar of the University’s attention to service as active prayer — the ideal closest to the heart of the late Father Tom Oddo, C.S.C., the University’s 17th president. After his undergraduate days on The Bluff (where he was that rare creature, a double major in philosophy and accounting), Chuck worked as an accountant for the State of Oregon, earned a master’s degree at the University in economics, and then began his long career as scholar and professor: at the Universidad de Catolica de Puerto Rico, at Trinity College in Washington, D.C., at American University, and, since 1975, at the University of Portland’s extension campus in South Bend, Indiana. At that Holy Cross-affiliated institution he has been a fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and served as chairman of the economics department. But he has ranged far a field from the groves of academe — most notably perhaps as consultant for the U.S. Bishops Committee on Catholic Social Thought and the U.S. Economy, which published the bishops’ famous pastoral letter on social and economic justice, and (with his wife Mary) as co-founder of the Holy Family Catholic Worker House in South Bend, which provides solace and shelter for homeless families.

2001 - Joe Daltoso '84
Joe Daltoso ’84 has taken the University’s message of teaching, faith, and service to heart. Formerly a CEO of a $2 billion company in Idaho, Joe decided to leave the high-profile high tech world behind and focus on service. Joe learned about the Hogar San Jose Orphanage from University president Rev. David Tyson, C.S.C. Intrigued, he made a trip to Chile to see the orphanage for himself. He found the facility on the verge of collapse because the trucking company that provided most of the organization’s support was on the edge of bankruptcy. Joe and his wife Martha decided to move their family to Talagante, Chile, and work at the orphanage. He is actively living his faith, teaching others about generosity and commitment while serving those in need.

2000 - Mark Williams '78
Attorney Mark Williams, who received his law degree at Notre Dame, focuses his law practice these days in elder law—medical and financial issues of concern to the aging and incapacitated. He also is an adjunct professor at Concordia University. After graduating from law school, Mark was a Jesuit volunteer at St. Andrew Legal Clinic, a private, nonprofit “public interest” law firm. He then served as an aide to Oregon Congressman Ron Wyden, was assistant district attorney in Coos County, Ore., assistant general counsel to the Oregon State Bar; and served at two other law firms. These days Mark staffs a legal clinic once a month at St. Johns YWCA for elders and four times a year at Cascade AIDS Project for clients with HIV/AIDS. He has been honored by the Multnomah County Legal Aid Senior Law Project and Cascade AIDS Project for his pro bono work. Mark’s work with the community includes board membership at the Delaunay Mental Health Center, Blessed Sacrament and St. Philip Neri parishes in Portland, as well as work with the North Portland Enhancement Committee, and the Multnomah County Citizen Involvement Committee.

1999 - Louis Fortino '47
“Offering your talents, resources, and support to any situation where it is needed” defines service for Lou Fortino ’47, the recipient of the Rev. Thomas C. Oddo Outstanding Service Award. And he and his wife, Terry, have certainly offered their talents, resources, and support to a variety of causes over the years—alumni activities, church clubs and programs, and youth causes are just a few of the areas in which Lou has volunteered. Lou was a member of University of Portland’s Metro Alumni Association in the mid-1980s, and he served as the chair of the community relations and service committee. He and Terry organized a University of Portland booth at the Portland Oktoberfest during the 1980s, and began bringing boys from St. Mary’s Home for Boys to Pilot basketball games in 1985—a tradition they continue today. Lou was also a member of the Alumni Association’s Portland Planning Board in the early 1990s and worked at St. Francis Dining Hall (with John Gega ’47, who received the Oddo Service Award last year), participated in Christmas in April for many years, and served on Reunion planning committees. Lou also planned and instituted a CCD program at Holy Trinity Church in Beaverton. He is a past president of the Oregon Casualty Adjuster Association and the Portland Insurance Arbitration Board, and he has volunteered with the United Way and American Red Cross.

1998 - John Gega '47
John Gega and his wife Elizabeth (Betty) served as the coordinators of the University of Portland alumni service opportunity at St. Francis Dining Hall--a precursor to the University's Alumni Service Program. Volunteers at the dining hall (located at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Southeast Portland) served meals to the homeless six days a week. On the second Thursday and third Friday of each month the Gegas rounded up a group of University alumni (sometimes members of the Student Alumni Association joined them) to “butter bread or fix a salad, and help serve dinner.” John is quite adept when it comes to serving meals; after he graduated from the University, he operated his family’s restaurant, Gega’s, until he retired in 1979.John and Betty are also active in their church, St. Patrick’s in Northwest Portland, and they’ve participated in the Christmas in April program with other University alumni and have lent their energies to support St. Vincent de Paul, the Downtown Chapel, and Central City Concern (the largest provider of low-income housing in Portland). John also received a service award from the Northwest Examiner in May 1998 for his many charitable acts on behalf of Portland’s service organizations.“God has been very good to us,” John has said, “and our lives are much easier than we ever thought possible; now we owe something in return to those who are less fortunate than we are.”

Oddo Service Award recipients from 1983-1997:
1997 - Rich Makowski '70
1996 - Lloydena V. Grimes '39
1995 - Michael A. Raffanti '83
1994 - F. Leo Smith CU '24
1993 - Denise Brown Doerfler '69
1992 - John Ries '52
1991 - Daniel C. O'Neill '72
1990 - James B. O'Hanlon '51 and Eugene E. Feltz '50
1989 - Luke Kuhl Miller '72
1988 - Thomas A. Caruso '67
1987 - Daniel Thomas '71
1986 - Deirdre M. Earley '76
1985 - Harold "Dan" Christianson '51
1984 - Bernard E. Comerford '25
1983 - The Founders of Blanchet House