CORVALLIS - Lane County business leader Bert Babb has been awarded the 1999 Dan W. Poling Alumni Service Award by Oregon State University.

The award, sponsored annually by the OSU Alumni Association, is named for the late Daniel W. Poling, long-time dean of men. It honors OSU alumni for exemplary volunteer service to the university.

Babb attended OSU from 1951-52 and was affiliated with Lambda Chi fraternity before joining the Army to serve in Korea. After leaving the service, he began work at a grocery in Eugene, starting as a box boy. In 1969, Babb and his wife, Shirley, bought Harold's Market in Veneta. They later opened West Lane Thriftway and sold the store after five years. They still own West Lane Shopping Center.

A prominent figure in the food industry, Babb is a founder and was first president of Oregon Food Industries, the state's grocery association. He has been a member of the board of United Grocers and Thriftway, and is a member of the State of Oregon Grocers Hall of Fame.

Babb has supported numerous community activities with his time and money, including the West Lane Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Elks, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

The son of a former OSU baseball player, Babb has maintained a lifelong interest in sports. He is a lifetime member and former vice president of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, and he worked with Jim Rudd and Art Olmstead to help create the statewide "Football Fever" program which raises funds to support athletic programs at OSU, the University of Oregon and Portland State University.

"Bert is just a great friend of OSU athletics," said Bob Westlund, a development officer who works with the OSU athletic department. "He has spent a tremendous amount of time and effort on many projects, and has both given and raised millions for the athletic department."

Babb was integral to the development of the former Beaver Club as a booster organization, and served as president during 1981-82, the first year the club topped the $1 million mark in gifts.

One of Babb's major contributions to OSU athletics was his work as co-chair of the Valley Football Center steering committee, which facilitated the planning and fund-raising of the training facility. He also is on the steering committee overseeing the new baseball facility, Goss Stadium.

He was elected to the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees in 1994 and he played a pivotal role in the campaign to build the CH2M-Hill Alumni Center.

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Don Wirth, 541-737-7845