People Power

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In 2009, the Duck, Dave Frohnmayer, Brad Foley, Lorry Lokey, and Leona and Robert DeArmond celebrated a successful expansion and renovation project at the MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building.
In 2009, the Duck, Dave Frohnmayer, Brad Foley, Lorry Lokey, and Leona and Robert DeArmond celebrated a successful expansion and renovation project at the MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building.

The UO campus boasts 295 acres of classrooms, courtyards, libraries, and laboratories. But a university is nothing without people. A recent gift from alumni couple Leona and Robert DeArmond will bring top students and faculty members to the UO. 

The DeArmonds’ endowment gifts will boost scholarship funds they’ve already established in the School of Music and Dance, the Charles H. Lundquist College of Business, and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. For years, DeArmond scholarships have supported student athletes playing football, undergraduates studying voice, and business students. Their gift will increase each of these three permanent scholarship funds.

“I had such a wonderful experience and voice teacher at the School of Music,” said Leona DeArmond. “And, of course, that’s where I met Bob. We want to give future students the same opportunities we had to work hard, learn, and succeed after college.” 

The gift also includes funds for a faculty chair in the Lundquist College of Business and funds for PathwayOregon, the university’s innovative scholarship and support program for lower- income Oregonians, currently serving more than 2,200 undergraduates. 

“We are very grateful for this investment in our most valuable asset—our students and faculty,” said Michael H. Schill, UO president and professor of law. “The DeArmonds, a couple of loyal Ducks who met here as undergraduates, have been tireless supporters of the university for decades. They were close friends with another dedicated Medford Duck, the late Dave Frohnmayer, and have served as our most ardent advocates in southern Oregon. This is just the latest example of the DeArmonds’ leadership and commitment to our university and to the state.”

“This gift to the University of Oregon—a place that is so special to Leona and Bob—will yield dividends in perpetuity,” said Peggy Jahnke, a trustee with the Robert and Leona DeArmond Foundation. “They have given their time, leadership, and financial contributions to the university for many years. In turn, they have received friendship, fulfillment, and opportunities to make a difference in the lives of some very talented young people.” 

A retired lumber products company executive, Robert DeArmond was born in Lakeview, Oregon. His family moved to Medford, Oregon and he graduated from Medford High School in 1948. His high school football coach was UO track legend Bill Bowerman. At the UO, he was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity and studied business administration, graduating in 1952. Shortly afterward, he formed the DeArmond Bros. Lumber Company in Rogue River, Oregon with his brother and father. That company was sold, and in 1959 Bob and Leona moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he and his brother owned the DeArmond Stud Mill. That company and several other companies merged with Atlas Tie Company to form Idaho Forest Industries in 1969 and Bob became chairman of the board. Idaho Forest Industries owned Double Dee Lumber Company in Central Point, Oregon and Bob moved back to Oregon in 1987 to manage that company until it shut down in 1992. Since that time, Bob has been involved in many different business ventures. Leona, a 1951 UO graduate, grew up in Tillamook. She studied voice and piano, and sang with the university choir. 

Like many loyal Duck families who have made names for themselves in Oregon industry—such as the Giustinas, Fords, Swindells, and Petersons (to name a few)—the DeArmonds worked with the UO to develop creative, inspiring ways to give where it would make the most difference. And they gave through their time and leadership as much as their financial contributions.

Robert served as a UO Foundation trustee for a decade, and the DeArmonds both received the UO’s Presidential Medal in 2004. They have given generously, supporting athletics, the School of Music and Dance, the Lundquist College of Business, UO Libraries, the Olum Child Development program, and other areas across campus.

In 2005, their leadership challenge gift helped launch the fundraising effort for construction of the MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building, inspiring Lorry Lokey and other donors to contribute. The building opened in 2009, and its academic wing is named in honor of Leona. So is one of the school’s four world-class Steinway grand pianos, a gift to the UO from Bob, to surprise Leona on her birthday. The school’s Florence “Penny” Vanderwicken Duprey Courtyard is named after Leona’s treasured college voice teacher, and Leona regularly contributes funds for the university to plant flowers in the courtyard. 

More recently, the DeArmonds gave funds for the construction of the UO’s Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library, which opened in 2016. The Robert DeArmond Maker Space features a laser cutter, 3-D printers, crafting tools, and computer software. The space is open to all students on campus.

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