The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Russ Yamada Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

August 17, 2015


“A Science Alum Looks Back with Gratitude”  August 17, 2015  Location: Valley Library, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Yamada discusses his family background, including his mother's experience of being interned during World War II, his father's service in the United States military during the war, and his father's memories of viewing the devastation of Hiroshima following the atomic bombing of August 1945. He then reviews his family history during the post-war years, noting his father's education in dentistry as a GI, small town life growing up in Newberg, the family's connections with OSC during those years, and his own experience of attending Boys State on the Oregon State campus.

From there, Yamada turns his attentions primarily to his years as an undergraduate at Oregon State University. He recalls his decision to study pre-dentistry and the influence of his advisor, Darwin Reese, before providing a long aside on his near-enlistment in Navy Officer Candidate School following his graduation from OSU, and his subsequent schooling and work in Canada.

Returning to his OSU tenure, Yamada recounts his fraternity experiences, the relatively placid atmosphere on campus during the late 1960s, and social events that were of particular importance, including football games, school dances, and concerts performed at Gill Coliseum by major musical acts of that time. Of special note are Yamada's memories of a performance at OSU by The Doors and his perspective on the 1965 Rose Bowl team and the 1967 Giant Killers team. He concludes this series of reflections with additional thoughts on the lack of a strong counter-cultural element at the OSU of the late 1960s and his sense of why that was the case.

As the session nears its conclusion, Yamada provides an overview of his career in dentistry and endodontics. The interview concludes with notes on family, activities in retirement - including work with the Japanese Cultural Society of Salem - and advice for college students of today.