Over the years, outstanding student-athletes have blessed Linfield. One prime example is Pete Dengenis, being inducted as an athlete into the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the "Class of 2000."
He is part of the storied "Hartford Connection," one of several Linfield student-athletes coming to the college from Hartford, Conn., through the recommendation of Joe Beidler. A Hartford high school football coach who had been Whitman College (Walla Walla, Wash.) head football coach, Beidler was a friend of Linfield coaches/Hall of Famers Paul Durham and Roy Helser. Beidler coached Dengenis, a tackle, in the 1960 Nutmeg Bowl, Connecticut's high school all-star football game.
"He called my high school coach and asked if I would be interested in attending Linfield. I talked to Mike Stelman of Hartford. He was happy after his first year at Linfield. I said 'yes, ' enrolled and my life was changed forever. I never looked back," says Dengenis.
While saying he has "never really feels comfortable talking about personal achievements," Dengenis has a host of them, both academically and athletically. He graduated cum laude with a Linfield economics bachelor's degree in 1964 and in 1968 with a master's in economics. A member of three honor societies, he was a Kenneth S. Latourette Scholarship recipient, as an outstanding social science student. And, he was Linfield's NAIA District 2 Student Athlete Award winner.
For the Wildcat football team, coached by Durham, he was an All-American, All-Coast and Northwest Conference all-star selection. A member of the college's Camellia Bowl team, he started all four years, was team captain and most inspirational in the 1963 season. He was the team's best defensive player award winner in his junior and senior seasons, leading the team in tackles each time.
Dengenis says that while personal honors are nice, "the team was more important to me. I was fortunate to be one player on several teams with outstanding players."
Indeed, the teams were spectacular, going undefeated during the 1961 and 1962 regular seasons and compiling a 33-4-1 record over his four years. While working on his master's degree, he was an assistant football coach at Linfield during 1966 and 1967.
Dengenis lives in Portland, Ore., and works for the Portland Association of Teachers of the Oregon Education Association. Previously he was executive director for the San Diego Coastal United Teachers and a statewide bargaining director for the Washington Education Association. Before that, Dengenis was a teacher and coach at Bend, Ore., High School. He has also been Bend Education Association president.