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Jim Damis

School: Grant

Sports Played: Football, Basketball, Track and Field

High School Honors: 2-year letter winner in football, All-PIL halfback and PIL scoring leader as a senior; member of PIL championship team as a junior (10-1-1) when Grant and Grants Pass tied at 14 in the State title game, but Grants Pass declared champion with more first downs. 3-year letter winner in track, PIL champion in the 100-yard dash (10.2) and 2nd in the 440 as a senior. 2-year letter winner in basketball, HM All-PIL as a senior.

Post High School Career: Graduated from Harvard College where he played football and rugby; earned law degree at Columbia Law School. At age 79, he continues to practice law in Portland.


Looking back at my time at Grant, I now recognize that playing football, basketball, and running track taught me many life lessons, including the importance of practice and preparation and learning that those tasks generate self-confidence. Perhaps the most crucial lesson I learned from athletics was never giving up, and it was that quality of perseverance (combined with imagination) that served me so well. Grant was a large school filled with many smart, talented, and very competitive classmates, and thus was an ideal environment for learning how to survive, compete, and excel, and those experiences enabled me to succeed at football and rugby at Harvard.

I also now recognize that performing under pressure in athletics carried forward to many other endeavors. And so, importantly, my high school sports experience helped immeasurably in the highly challenging academic arenas at Harvard College and Columbia law school. Learning how to stay focused, remain calm, and deal with the unexpected proved to be especially important in the courtroom and other dispute resolution scenarios.

I was fortunate that all my coaches at Grant and Harvard were fine human beings and excellent role models. They taught me not only how to do well but also how to lead. After I returned to Portland, I formed and captained a football team that won several tavern league championships. I later created the Attorneys Basketball Association, a 12 team league in Portland, and I served as its commissioner for over 30 years. I created (and now administer) Arbitration Service of Portland, which has over 400 attorneys and retired judges throughout Oregon to administer mediations and more private arbitrations than any other service in the state.

My physical endeavors now include downhill skiing, golfing, and tending my garden, which was featured in Better Homes and Gardens (July, 2000). I continue to practice law in Portland.

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