John Hood 1934-2011

John Hood and Mayor Vera Katz with the first redesigned Portland Flag, 2002
Everyone who drove on S.E. 39th Avenue opposite Laurelhurst Park knew the Flag House. Portlanders enjoyed the changing daily display of three flags—all flown for some special reason—by John Hood. There, with his long-time companion Vivian Jackson, he built a collection of over 600 full-size flags and enthusiastically shared them with passersby based on a database of flag-flying days he’d built over several years.

John, who died at age 77 after a battle with cancer, was a charter member of the Portland Flag Association, a group which had grown out of the organizing committee for the 1994 annual meeting of the North American Vexillological Association. After his friend Harry Oswald moved to Texas, John took over the “central coordinator” role for the PFA, and created and published its occasional newsletter, The Vexilloid Tabloid. In it he chronicled PFA meetings, challenged members with flag quizzes, and documented local and national flag doings. He famously wrote, “If you wish to compliment the editor, contact John Hood. If you wish to complain, call your mother.”

He was the first and most gracious host of the now-bimonthly meetings of the PFA, catered with bountiful sweets baked by Vivian. In his living room in 2002, the group hatched a successful effort to redesign the 1969 flag of the City of Portland. After PFA members arranged political support, testified before city council, and watched the redesign ordinance pass unanimously, Mayor Vera Katz asked them to replace the council chamber’s old flag. John attached the newly-adopted flag to the pole, becoming the first person to raise Portland’s current flag.

John was raised in Idaho, served in the Navy, and had a career with the telephone company in San Francisco. A generous soul, John especially supported up-and-coming vexillologists, recently giving his entire collection of flag periodicals from around the world to young members of the PFA.

His colleagues will miss his jovial spirit, expansive knowledge of flags, and commitment to inclusion and conviviality.

Ted Kaye

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Author: SDM

Ethnography * Technology * Design

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