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News / Clark County News

Tree planting salutes long-time sports journalist Paul Danzer

22 new trees will create a grove at Biddlewood Park

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: October 8, 2022, 6:34pm
8 Photos
Paul Danzer, a longtime local sports reporter, listens as colleagues and friends extol his virtues during a tree-planting ceremony dedicated to him at Biddlewood Park in Vancouver.
Paul Danzer, a longtime local sports reporter, listens as colleagues and friends extol his virtues during a tree-planting ceremony dedicated to him at Biddlewood Park in Vancouver. (Photos by James Rexroad for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Local sportswriter Paul Danzer never expected anyone to plant a tree in his name. So, when dozens of people gathered late Saturday morning at Biddlewood Park to establish a whole grove of 22 trees, he was amazed.

“It’s a surreal deal to see all these people. It’s pretty special,” Danzer said.

Those who attended the tree-planting ceremony were quick to relay their admiration of Danzer — whether it was commending his work as a sports journalist or remarking on his personal qualities. He’s so beloved, in fact, that many attendees donned gray T-shirts with the honoree’s face plastered on the front.

Danzer kicked off his sportswriting career at the Valley Times in Beaverton, Ore., in 1983 and eventually established himself at the Daily Astorian in 1986. His school and local sports coverage made him a treasured figure in the community, leading to his induction into Astoria High School’s Hall of Fame.

Covering local sports is challenging, and Danzer stood out as someone who was unusually good at it, said Michael LaLumiere, who organized the celebration and hired Danzer at the Valley Times.

Reporters on the beat often spend their nights in brightly lit sports halls or leaky press boxes, he said. They rush around to grab comments from coaches and players before zooming back to the newsroom to meet their story deadline.

“You’re the one that takes all the calls from the moms and dads who are wondering why their kid — the best athlete in the state — isn’t in the newspaper,” LaLumiere said. “And God help you if you don’t get all the scores in.”

Danzer’s writing career eventually brought him farther inland to The Columbian, where he wrote more than 4,000 stories between 1999 and 2016. He covered community sports in Clark County, as well as professional teams like the Portland Timbers and Portland Winterhawks.

Danzer currently writes for the Portland Tribune.

“Paul is a consummate professional, and right now, he’s doing a job that three people used to do. He’s one of the hardest-working people I know,” said Mark Garber, president and publisher of Pamplin Media Group, which owns the Portland Tribune.

Anna Danzer, Paul Danzer’s wife, said it’s hard for him to sit down. He’s always headed to a sporting event, taking calls or meeting someone for an interview, she said.

Anna Danzer recognizes her husband’s commitment to the sports beat as a labor of love but admits that she wants him to retire soon. Once he does, they can go on more walks in Biddlewood Park to witness the grove’s growth — or finally go beer tasting in Scotland or Ireland.

Danzer’s grove was made possible through the city of Vancouver’s Witness Tree program. Jessica George, Urban Forestry education and outreach coordinator, said Danzer’s grove is the first of its kind due to the large number of trees being planted.

This was LaLumiere’s intention when organizing the event, he said, because amazing people deserve to be recognized. As the deciduous trees mature and begin to flower throughout the seasons, they will attract the attention of passersby who will hopefully come to understand how special Danzer is, he said.

“Paul is more than a one-tree person,” LaLumiere said with a chuckle.

Columbian staff writer