This Fall the Portland Parks Foundation created a new small grant program, which will help local parks complete improvements and add new features such as fountains and playgrounds. The grant program is named after Nancy Hebb Freeman by a generous donation from the estate of Nancy Hebb Freeman who passed away in August 2015 and left a bequest to the Foundation. Nancy loved Portland’s parks, and she and her family wanted to continue that legacy. To honor her memory, we wanted to share Nancy’s story and her relationship with Portland parks.
Nancy Hebb Freeman grew up on the east coast but fell in love with the West. Here, she met her partner Ray Siderius, who very kindly gave us the material to write this little bio. Both Nancy and Ray greatly enjoyed spending time in the outdoors, and went on frequent walks in Forest Park, Hoyt Arboretum, Macleay Park, Gabriel Park, and many other parks around Portland. Along the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, they would make little bets on the mileage markers-- whoever guessed the number closest to the one on the mileage marker would have to buy the other a cup of coffee. For Nancy, Portland’s parks were a place to not only get some exercise, but to find peace of mind as well.
Portland’s parks also provided inspiration for one of Nancy’s greatest passions: art. Nancy studied art in college and found a passion for Pacific Northwest landscapes when she moved to Bellingham in 1990. She continued to draw inspiration from parks in and around Portland, and she greatly enjoyed painting from nature. Her partner Ray Siderius writes, “I think the time in nature was an essential part of Nancy’s spiritual life."
We are honored that Nancy left everyone a parks legacy and look forward to crafting a small granting program in the next year that serves those that love our parks the most - the volunteers that work every week to keep our parks beautiful. You can carry on Nancy’s legacy of appreciation for Portland’s parks today by exploring one near you. Take a page from Nancy’s book and make bets with your friends and family on the mile markers in Forest Park! Or you could continue her love of art by taking a class at the Multnomah Arts Center, which is run by Portland Parks & Recreation and features outdoor classes as well. Nancy’s pressence brightened the lives of the people around her, and we’re grateful that her legacy continues to live on at the Portland Parks Foundation.