Nov 14 2014

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of Old St. Francis School in Bend. As with all of our properties, there are a million fascinating stories within its walls, but here, we'll just tell one.

Read on to find out what these things have in common.

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Cameron HealeyCameron Healey attended 1st through 7th grades at St. Francis in the 1950s and '60s. For a while he seemed to be on the same path as other St. Francis kids: He was an altar boy, had great (and sometimes mischievous) buddies and was a popular kid. One of his schoolmates remembered, "All the girls loved Cam when we were at St. Francis. He was the hottie. [I] was always the guy who said, 'Well, Cam, is there anybody you don't like?'"

In an interview with Healey, he recalled, "Bend in the '50s was a very centralized town. Everything was sort of around down town: and so, you know, born in the hospital, baptized in the church across the street, lived one block from the hospital, 'til I was about one, then [we] moved from there to Congress Street, which was a few blocks away... Church was the community, and I must have started first grade in 1957... at St. Francis School."

By 8th grade, however, it was apparent that Cameron was looking outward, beyond St Francis, so his parents let him transfer to public school. "You know, the times they were a'-changing. I got interested in music and kind of what was happening... I was a good boy through most the years, but by the 7th grade I was rebelling. ... I think you were required to be in choir, and 6th-7th grade choir was a disaster for the church because boys' voices were changing and we would take advantage of that excuse and purposely sing loud and off key - just pretend. I remember that, during the service - terrible behavior."

Music brought some escape during these years. On top of Pilot Butte, Cameron recalled, you could tune into a Los Angeles radio station on your car radio and hear Wolfman Jack's wild rock 'n' roll radio show. Also, he snuck out of his house to see the likes of the Kingsmen, Paul Revere & The Raiders, and even the Kinks play at the Bend Armory. Inspired, Cameron got into a guitar-fueled garage band that raged around the county in an old Bonneville station wagon.

In the mid-to-late-'60s, Cameron and a couple friends started migrating toward Eastern religion and eventually committed to it, changing their names and lifestyles completely. "We all became sikhs, got into yoga. We were all sort of, you know, hippies and doing all of our counter culture/music/psychedelic thing." Healey then went by the name Nirbhao Singh Khalsa.

He went on to establish Golden Temple Bakery in Eugene in 1972, while still enrolled at the University of Oregon, with an investment of $1,000. Golden Temple, which grew out of the local yoga and Sikh communities, produced granola and whole grain breads that were distributed to natural food stores throughout the Willamette Valley. Upon completing college, Healy donated the bakery to the commune in which he'd lived and moved to Salem, OR, where he taught yoga and started the Golden Temple Natural Food Distributors. 

After five years, he decided to get back into manufacturing; in 1978, Healey founded Kettle Foods (originally called the N.S. Khalsa Company), a wholesaler of nuts, cheese and trail mixes; it produced its first potato chips in 1982. "People love potato chips," Healey was quoted as saying in a 1999 Statesman article. "I knew if I could create a distinctive enough product, there would be a mystique about them." (He was right.)

Around 1990, Cameron recalls going through another spiritual transition, one that brought him full circle back to his Catholic roots that had been formed at St. Francis School. "I took a long weekend trip to Ireland. It was kind of like a light bulb going off... There was this huge Catholic procession, and I happened to be in the center of town and they had this platform altar with the priests and they did this service and it was the old church style, it was the old Latin and the songs and I realized that I knew all that. I knew it all... It was sort of a melding of those two pieces of my life kind of defined by spiritual pursuits. That Ireland trip was instrumental in that."

That "long weekend trip" to Ireland also led to a newfound appreciation of good beer. In 1992, Healey and his son Spoon Khalsa opened Kona Brewing on Hawaii's Big Island. Kona is now the top-selling craft beer in the islands and is distributed in 36 states and nine countries.

Update
Today, Kettle Foods has international headquarters in Salem, OR; the U.K.; and the Middle East. In 2010, the company was sold to California-based Diamond Foods. Kona Brewing has been owned by Craft Brew Alliance, based in Portland, since October 1, 2010. Healey also established the Bill Healy Foundation for the Environment & Children, in the name of his father (one of the original developers of Mt. Bachelor in Bend), in 1995; the organization is "committed to responsible grant making through thoughtful choices... and recognizes the fragile interdependence between the environment and human beings."

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#1 Debbie

Thanks, I had never read this until now and love finding out the history of this charming place. I knew it had been a school and have come to know many people who had attended as children, including Rollie Anderson who has a room named after him. I use the soaking pool, see movies, and enjoy the cuisine as often as I can.