The tragic death of Rob Ingram from a heart attack, Sunday, comes as a shock to many Portlanders. Our hearts go out to his wife Dana and his five children. Rob left no doubt how proud he was of his family. And he had good reasons to be proud. His oldest son, Derriel Ingram, for example, now a student at Lane Community College, led the Black Students Union at Benson High school last year, and also won the state wrestling championship.
Many others in the city, who knew Ingram through his work for at-risk youth or through his inspirational leadership of the Urban League's Young Professionals, can hardly believe he has gone forever. Many hoped and expected that he would rise to greater prominence some day, maybe running for mayor or to be Oregon's first Black U.S. Senator.
Rob Ingram with Krystal Gema at an Urban League Young Professionals evening with Mult. Co. Commissioner, Loretta Smith
Here are a few tributes by some of those who knew him well.
"As I'm speaking tears are running down my face. Rob's face was a face that lit up a room. When he walked into a room, everyone noticed. His caring for at-risk youth was his primary responsibility and it was his passion. He loved family. He loved what he did. And you could see it in his face. You meet people like Rob and they leave a distinct impression that guides you. His passion was a guidepost for me. Rob would not want anyone to experience pain, so I hope everyone close to Rob will take this a guidepost to become a sponsoring community to uplift his family and friends who are suffering." Tom Peavey, policy director for Portland's Office of Youth Violence Prevention.
"Rob was a definite pillar in our community. He was somebody who could relate to multiple generations – the old and the new, He will be dearly missed." Robert Blake, outreach worker with Brothers and Sisters Keepers.
"He was an excellent leader and I expected him to be a force in this community for decades to come. Everything he did in the community was positive. He had a lot of passion and he worked very hard. He wasn't getting rich doing it – he was fairly selfless. He was a good family man: a loving family man and husband. He was just a very nice person on top of everything else. Rob was president of the Urban League's Young Professionals for almost two years. That's the volunteer arm of the Urban League, and he brought them to more prominence and was taking them in a very positive direction. It is very sad. My biggest sadness right now is for his family —-- for his kids. I don't think I've even processed this yet. It's a very sad day for Portland." Marcus Mundy, president of the Urban League of Portland.
Rob Ingram with Chabre Vickers at the Big Brothers Big Sisters annual breakfast Nov. 17
"There is not one single person in this city who needs a role model who wouldn't want Rob Ingram to be that person. Rob's commitment to work was unsurpassed – even when he should have stopped and taken a break. When he was a kid he was a little brother (in the big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program) and when he grew up, he decided to pay it forward and be a Big Brother. He thought about how to support the agency all the time.
"He was a close personal friend and mentor of mine and if I needed any work done or any of my professional questions answered, he was the first one I'd call. For some reason I was blessed to have a close relationship with Rob. Who is going to do all that work? He was doing the work of 10 men. And his work impacted people in a way that no other person's did. The loss is just monumental." Chabre Vickers, director of Community Relations and Diversity Programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Columbia Northwest.
"Rob Ingram, a true gentlemen with an impeccable "shoe game" and a flawless smile, was genuinely devoted to improving this community. To know Rob, even outwardly, was to know that he was a committed and loving husband and father with a genuine passion for family and community that is seldom seen in modern society. Many people hold positions of power, but sadly, for too many, it infrequently translates into true community action. Rob Ingram was different. He did not just hold positions which signified change, nor did he simply work for change, he was the change. Whether we were gathered at a community-action related event or hanging out at a personal celebration for one of our mutual friends, Rob Ingram – and the things he stood for – remained consistent. He was unapologetically committed to the improvement of the lives young men of color – a matter that was urgent and always on his mind. The death of Rob Ingram is an enormous loss to his family and friends, and to the larger community where his legacy is undoubtedly embedded. I hope that all who have been touched by all that Rob Ingram was, will find a way to translate grief into action and continue to work towards the change that Rob worked tirelessly towards." Rochell D. "Ro Deezy" Hart, author and Hip Hop artist.
"Rob's death has affected me a great deal. It's like losing a young brother or maybe an older son. Rob was one of my bench: a group of 14 people that I've been pulling together who are future leaders. He had so much potential. Whether he was to be an elected leader or not, he was someone able to take the issues of the community and do something about them. He was here to make an impact and he did. We needed to have him a lot longer than we did.
We have so many things that we need to do for our young people, on crime, education, healthcare. Now the real question is how do we make sure it gets done? We have to put it together in a way that's going to be effective, without him physically here, but with his thoughts. He clearly had a mission. He was a leader, and he understood that change doesn't happen by intuition but by hard work. And he was willing to put in that hard work. He left a legacy and a challenge. I hope we are up to it. I think we are up to it." Rep. Lew Frederick
"We went to the Whitney M. Young Conference in Atlanta: Rob, myself and Crystal Robinson. Until then I'd never spent that much time with him. Rob was so invested in the community that you had a couple of hours here and 30 minutes there. The condition of our community is continuing to deteriorate so Rob would say, 'We have a lot of work to do'.
"So coming out of that leadership weekend we had learned a lot about each other. We all did the Myers Briggs (a personality profile). What stood out was that we were heavy on visionaries. Rob's Myers Briggs came out as the Champion and I think that title is perfect for him. So I went through that book and here are the things that perfectly embody who he was:
"'Champions are greatly concerned with ethics and justice and have a strong desire to speak about current issues and events. They are the most inspiring and animated of the role variants. And usually this is not simple storytelling; Champions often speak (or write) in the hope of revealing some truth about human experience, or of motivating others with their powerful convictions.
'Champions can be tireless in talking with others, like fountains that bubble and splash, spilling over their own words to get it all out. Their strong drive to speak out on issues and events, along with their boundless enthusiasm and natural talent with language, makes them the most vivacious and inspiring of all the types.'
"So when you talk to other Young Professionals they will say, 'Yes that's who Rob is: someone who exudes enthusiasm and whose enthusiasm is contagious.'
Because of the work he knew had to be done, he burdened himself, willingly. He was a champion of people, and a champion of life and a steward of the community." Jazzmin Reese, formerly vice-president of the Urban League's Young Professionals, now stepping into the role of President.
"What I remember about Rob is his style. Rob was a gentleman. He had a tough job to do with the city in trying to curtail youth violence. I still don't believe people understand what an awesome responsibility that is. Rob did it well. It's always an awesome challenge to find and bring together the resources. You are constantly looking at conflict. It's always a position of extreme pressure. He handled that pressure well and made outstanding contributions to the City of Portland. I understand that well having been in this work.
"Rob found ways to deal with the stress of that position and I think he did that very well. I'm very sad for his family, his children and the entire City of Portland." John Canda outreach worker and former director of the Office of Youth Violence Prevention
"Rob's heart was deep into community building. He was such a great guy – always positive. He was one of those solid rocks in the community giving so much from his heart. Like a lot of people I'm still reeling. He was so young." Renee Mitchell
"As a citizen he represented the best of what a public servant should be. His actions and interactions with people all represented shared community. No matter who you were – Black or White, rich or poor, he made sure you got the same attention. He treated everyone the same. As an African American man, from an African American perspective, he clearly understood that there were deficits of opportunity in the city for us. And he tried to give us a model that even though those deficits were present, we could try to make a setup for a comeback." Kelvin Hall
"We loved him and we will miss him. He was like my son in the Gospel. Rob I think, is an example of manliness: committed to his family, to community, to his children and to his church. He didn't just talk about it; he walked it."
"A big hole has been left that those who have been mentored and encouraged by him will need to fill. It's an opportunity to step up. He carried a lot of responsibility and he did it well. One of the things that is true I learned in school. The majority of people who have impacted the world did so before the age of 40. I'm going to miss him." Bishop Steven Holt
"As shown by how he lived his life my husband, Robert Ingram, was passionate about our community. He loved mentoring and leading. He believed in every person's capacity to change, to be a good citizen. Your prayers have given us strength—please continue to offer them for us all. On behalf of our children and families, I offer sincere thanks for the beautiful outpouring of support and love." Dana Fuller Ingram
"It's an unbelievable tragedy. I was in shock and still am. Rob was a great dude; motivational, inspiring and hard working. He had a passion for helping our community and he was able to go through doors a lot of us couldn't. He was a voice for the hood, bringing our perspective to City Hall. He helped me a lot. He was a mentor and a great family man. A picture of what a Black man could be. We all must step up to the plate and carry on his work." Samuel Thompson
Janna Lopez, Publisher of Portland Family magazine has set up a Memorial Fund at Bank of America to help the family. You can contribute by going in to any Bank of America in the Portland/SW Washington area and depositing to the Rob Ingram Memorial fund.
Story: Rob Ingram Dies at 38
Rob Ingram In His Own Words: Rob's blogs for The Skanner
See More Tributes on Rob's Facebook page