HONORED NASONS GO ON THE TOWN AND 8 OF THEIR 71 KIDS JOIN FUN

Date: 1987-09-26

Author: DON HAMILTON - of the Oregonian Staff

Diane and Dennis Nason piled into their Greyhound bus Friday with eight of their children and made a familiar trip from their Sisters home to Portland.

But unlike their other trips over the years, which often were to seek medical treatment for one of their 71 children, this journey was for the parents. The Nasons were honored with a tea and presented with the Sterling Award from Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for Children for their service on behalf of children.

SHARING THEIR HOME: The Nasons have drawn national recognition for their willingness to adopt children -- many of them emotionally or physically handicapped -- and give them a warm and caring home. They were the subject of the television movie ``The Celebration Family'' last spring and were featured on ``60 Minutes'' in 1984.

During the last few decades, the Nasons have raised 71 children, six of them their biological offspring. Their adopted children have suffered from Down's syndrome, cerebral palsey, nutritional disorders, hydrocephalus, hip dysplasia and clubbed feet. They hail from all over the world, and some have arrived in their new home burned or without arms.

Fifty-seven currently live in the Nason's home, which features 17 bedrooms and five bathrooms.

Actress Jennifer Jones and Antoinette Hatfield -- appearing for her husband, Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, R-Ore., who was unexpectedly called back to Washington, D.C. -- presented the award to the Nasons at Doernbecher's the seventh annual Silver Tea on the 18th floor of One Financial Center.

``Except for having more kids and driving around in a Greyhound bus, we don't feel any different than than anyone else,'' Dennis Nason said. ``Whether you adopt people or help some other way, the whole story is people helping each other, reaching out and being compassionate to each other.

``There are all kinds of ways people can help,'' added Nason, who is the postmaster in Sisters.

``Everyone has different gifts and abilities given them by God,'' Diane Nason said. ``I feel like I can make a difference. Everyone should try to make a difference. If we were all like that, there wouldn't be any troubles in the world.''

Doernbecher officials also unveiled an architect's plan for what officials hope will soon become a major expansion of the hospital. There is no funding program yet and no final concept of just what the expansion will be, said David M. Witter Jr., interim president of Oregon Health Sciences University.

He said the 32-year-old hospital needs more beds and new equipment. Witter said roughly $30 million would be needed for the expansion.

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