News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Generations of collaborative spirit

“One of Mom’s famous ‘Gertisms’ was, ‘It is better to give with a warm hand than a cold one,’” Kathy Deggendorfer, founder of the Roundhouse Foundation, remembers.

In that spirit, Gert Boyle, the “one tough mother” of Columbia Sportswear fame, funded the Roundhouse Foundation in 2002. According to the Foundation website, “Gert was no stranger to challenges as she immigrated from Nazi Germany in 1937, took over Columbia Hat Company with her husband, Neal, and then quickly had to transition the family business after Neal’s sudden death in 1970. Gert recognized the need for hard work and collaboration to ensure the family business and the greater community was successful.”

That success became Columbia Sportswear.

That hard work and collaborative spirit are evident in Gert’s offspring of several generations. Deggendorfer has made a myriad of contributions to the community of Sisters and beyond while maintaining her own art career. Deggendorfer’s daughter, Erin Borla, is a graduate of Sisters High School, Oregon State University, and George Washington University. She served as the executive director of Sisters Chamber of Commerce as well as being a wife and mother of two children. And she is now the Foundation’s executive director.

“I live and work in Sisters, Oregon, and Mom was a frequent visitor,” said Deggendorfer. “We love rural Oregon, its scenic beauty, and the creative community of artists who live throughout our regions.”

With Gert’s death in 2019, the Foundation received a portion of her estate, enabling them to rework and broaden their mission and

reach.

The name Roundhouse was explained by Borla:

“Kathy’s father, Neal, used the phrase, ‘Run to the roundhouse, they’ll never corner you there.’ Kathy’s image of the roundhouse surfaces multiple times in many different iterations about change and community references. Tribal recognition and work Kathy has done in the South Pacific – the shape of the community spaces are round houses. Community comes together there to discuss and collaborate.”

At Pine Meadow Ranch there just happens to be a round barn built by earlier inhabitants.

 

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