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Educator's message carries on with fund.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

Patrick McCurdy spent the last years of his life working to get his rural high school students into college.

His wife and family continue his good works after his death, through the Patrick and Olivia McCurdy Scholarship Foundation, which so far has granted two Pleasant Hill High School students enough money to pay for their first year of college.

Efforts to raise money and expand the scholarship continue under the guidance of McCurdy's wife, Katie Barr of Eugene.

McCurdy, 34, a popular counselor and coach at the school, was killed March 17 with his 2-year-old daughter, Olivia, when an out-of-control pickup truck veered across Highway 58 in Pleasant Hill and struck the family's Subaru.

Barr survived the crash, and she soon returned to work as an English teacher at the school.

The scholarship foundation allows her to continue her husband's mission of encouraging students to overcome the obstacles to attending college that often face rural students, she said.

"Now more than ever I feel I need to spread the message that `you guys can do whatever you want. It doesn't matter where you come from,' ' Barr said.

In the weeks after the crash, the Pleasant Hill community and others contributed about $25,000 to the fund, allowing it to award two scholarships in time for graduation.

One went to Angela Gerber, the first member of her family in three generations to graduate from high school, not to mention attend college. The scholarship will pay for her first year at Lane Community College, the first step in her dream of becoming a lawyer.

The other recipient, Josh Breslaw, hadn't planned to go to college until McCurdy, nicknamed "Curdles" by Pleasant Hill students, encouraged him to try his hardest during his senior year.

Breslaw plans to attend Clackamas Community College in Oregon City and eventually become a teacher.

Ultimately, Barr wants to raise $100,000 to ensure the scholarship will continue year after year.

To that end, her brother Jud Barr of Mill Valley, Calif., and family friend Mike Waite - who have been doing ongoing fund raising in California - will ride the gruelling Cascade Cream Puff, a 100-mile mountain bike race Sunday in the Oakridge/Westfir area.

Jud Barr said he and McCurdy had always toyed with the idea of doing the notorious ride, but somehow never got around to it.

Now he and Waite will ride with sponsors paying them by the mile.

"Maybe that will give us a motive to keep going," Jud Barr joked, while pointing out that about a quarter of the race's riders drop out of the event that has them climb about 18,000 feet while completing a 33-mile lap three times.

Katie Barr and about 20 family and friends - including 14 Pleasant Hill High School staff members - will also run the Portland Marathon in October to raise money for the scholarship fund.

All the activity has helped keep Barr busy as she slowly works through a loss that to many may seem insurmountable.

"This was who Patrick was," she said. "In a way, it has given me a piece of him.

"Now I know this is why I survived the crash. I'm supposed to be carrying on his message."


To contribute to the scholarship fund established by Pleasant Hill High School teacher Katie Barr, send checks to the Patrick & Olivia McCurdy Scholarship Foundation, c/o Pleasant Hill High School, 36386 Highway 58, Pleasant Hill, OR 97455.
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Title Annotation:General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 30, 2003
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