The Bluhm Family Honors Carol Feltz Bluhm with a Memorial Award Dedicated to Teachers and Coaches
Carol Feltz Bluhm had a heart for children, for service, and for sports. She played tennis, soccer, and softball for LaSalle High School, in Milwaukie, Oregon, but as much as she enjoyed all sports, her passion was basketball. It was on the basketball court that she developed the athletic and leadership skills that came to define her. As the team’s captain and a formidable point guard, Carol Feltz (later Carol Bluhm) started in every single varsity basketball game LaSalle played during her time there. The relationship between Carol and her coach, Jeff Gray, described as a “mutual admiration” by those who knew both, played an integral role in the person Carol became as an adult.
Reflecting on her years on the basketball team, Carol recognized the incredible time and dedication Coach Gray gave to his student athletes. She expressed gratitude for that relationship, and for the life-shaping experiences she had as a result.
So it stands to reason that during her last days, pondering the journey of her life which would end too soon as a result of breast cancer, Carol asked that a memorial fund to LaSalle be dedicated to teachers and/or coaches of extracurricular activities. And so it was. With the help of Carol’s husband of 26 years, Dr. Jim Bluhm, her parents, siblings, and children, as well as the administration at LaSalle High School, The Carol Feltz Bluhm Award was born. The award specifically acknowledges the efforts required of those who not only teach, but who also extend service to students by leading after-school activities.
“Carol wanted to recognize the dedication of teachers and coaches like her basketball coach,” says Dr. Bluhm, speaking fondly of his wife’s intentions. “She knew it could be a pretty thankless job, even though coaching requires hours and hours of time after school, with practices, planning, and travel with the team. But the impact the coaches have on the lives of their students and athletes is great. It definitely was for Carol.”
The award began with donations from her family and from the LaSalle Class of 1980. But in under two years, the fund has grown to be one of the largest perpetual endowment funds at LaSalle High School, according to LaSalle president, Denise Jones. “This award and the message behind it really resonates with the LaSalle community, because it is so well aligned with our philosophy of education and the value we place on the development of the whole student.”
The first annual Carol Feltz Bluhm Award was given to Speech and Debate Coach Mike Doran. Doran was chosen by students, staff, and administrators as an example of the commitment and dedication Carol Feltz Bluhm wished to honor. The award was presented to Mr. Doran during a basketball halftime February 2016, with the Bluhm family and the Feltz family in the stands.
“I am so honored to be the first recipient of the Carol Feltz Bluhm Award. In terms of my level of appreciation for the acknowledgment of my work, as well as the financial generosity, I cannot say enough about my genuine gratitude and surprise. What we coaches do really is a labor of love. In my case I also firmly believe in the importance of kids learning the value of effective public speaking,” says Mr. Doran, who is also an AP Government and Economics and Social Studies teacher at LaSalle. “This award really speaks to Carol’s school experience and to her desire to ensure other students benefit as she did, which is just so incredibly honorable. As a perpetual endowment, it is also a lasting gift. On behalf of all my colleagues who will benefit from this award in the future, many of whom I don’t even know yet or may never know, I am just so honored and thankful.”
LaSalle President Denise Jones says, “It’s not just about academics, as important as academics are. It’s about the whole being. The development of character and hard work and teamwork. And when our students learn about the award, we hear them asking “who was that?” and “how did that happen?” And they learn about Carol’s legacy, which is not only of a wonderful athlete, but of someone who truly valued the commitment of her teachers and coaches. And their response is “Oh yes. I believe that, too.” That’s what this award is about. And that’s why it’s grown as it has.”
Students at LaSalle benefit from the award through the encouragement of their teachers and coaches, as well as the assurance that they can participate in the extracurricular activity that inspires them. The growth and size of the fund has allowed the adoption of a second pillar to the Carol Feltz Bluhm Award; it comes in the form of scholarships to students to ensure that their participation in sports or other activities is possible, regardless of financial barriers that may exist. Sports participation, service immersion experiences, study abroad opportunities, and more, are possible for all LaSalle students, thanks to this award. “There’s a Sustainability of the Earth Conference, for example, in Moab, Utah, and we expect to send students to this conference, an experience which is also at the heart of the Award’s intentions,” says Jones. “Carol’s philosophy was, “whatever your passion, feed it!” And now we can. She’s simply a witness of a life well-lived.”
For more information about the Carol Feltz Bluhm award, please visit: