Two months ago Commissioner Adams established a tram naming committee with an intention of personalizing Portland’s new skyline icon with names. The committee has completed its work and has decided to name the tram cars “Jean” and “Walt” respectively. Tram car “Jean” honors Jean Richardson, Oregon’s first female engineering graduate, from Oregon State University (OSU). Tram car “Walt” honors Walt Reynolds, the first African American to graduate from the University of Oregon Medical School, now known as Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU).
Despite enduring gender discrimination during her time at school and in establishing her career, Jean Richardson persevered. She graduated from OSU in 1949 and found gainful employment by first offering her services pro bono until her employer deemed her work professionally competent and worthy of a paycheck.
Walt Reynolds is a community leader in ways beyond being first African American in Oregon to earn a medical degree from OHSU in 1949. The Oregonian reported on July 10, 1997: “It’s after 6 p.m. and Reynolds is still seeing patients, as he has for more than four decades of solo practice. It’s one of the ways he gives back to his community. In addition to his work, which the 77-year-old Reynolds has continued well past regular retirement age, he has served as president of the Urban League, a mentor to other minority health professionals and a volunteer on numerous projects. Today, he dreams of establishing a clinic with other black family doctors to build a community tradition.”
Complementing the tram car names, the committee also selected two station names derived from the Tualatin language: Chameffu, meaning “On the mountain,” for the Upper Station and Chamanchal, meaning “On the river” for the Lower Station. Commissioner Adams and the local Native American community are pleased that that the City is naming a significant project using a local tribal language.