Don Hildebrand Legacy

With a mix of sadness and joy I attended the memorial service of Don Hildebrand to honor a life well lived. As part of the service, Don’s daughter Holly read a poem written to celebrate Don. What an amazing poem! The part that struck me personally was a line that referenced Sir Isaac Newton’s quote about how he could ‘see further because he stood on the shoulders of giants.’ That comment really captures how I and Youth 71Five Ministries connect with Don.
Don came to Oregon to be the Director of a tiny chapter of Youth for Christ in 1973. Over the next 20 years he turned that tiny organization into a well-known and much respected ministry to kids in the Rogue Valley. By the time Don hired me in 1991, everyone around town seemed to know the “oldest teenager in the Rogue Valley.” Radio shows, haunted houses, Mexico trips and golf tournaments put the name of Rogue Valley Youth for Christ into the headlines but much more importantly; an adventuresome spirit, a love of fun, a caring heart and a passion for Jesus brought hope into the lives of kids.
So here I am almost 30 years later sitting in the same seat Don sat in with an active and thriving ministry, but I can tell you this, we’ve reached this height because we stand on the shoulders of a giant. Rogue Valley Youth for Christ and now Youth 71Five Ministries have a tremendous heritage and the trust of our community because of what God did in and through the life of Don Hildebrand. A few things I’ve personally learned from Don and think about almost daily: first, don’t be too busy for those who need you; second, lead with fun: and last, love kids toward Jesus. These qualities of Don’s legacy are still hallmarks of 71Five.
I will miss his energy and bounce, his skill in sarcastic repartee, and the best work-related compliments I’ve ever been given. But… I know I’ll see him again, and in the meantime I’ll keep serving God, grateful to be standing on the shoulders of a giant.
BUD AMUNDSEN,  71Five Executive Director  
(541) 779-3275 |
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB