Teddy Roosevelt, portrayed by Joe Wiegand of the Oregon Historical Society, greets children Oct. 9 at Holy Family School. He discussed his boyhood, when he loved reptiles and amphibians. See story on page 8. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Teddy Roosevelt, portrayed by Joe Wiegand of the Oregon Historical Society, greets children Oct. 9 at Holy Family School. He discussed his boyhood, when he loved reptiles and amphibians. See story on page 8. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)

The president came to Holy Family School in Southeast Portland Oct. 9. Didn’t hear? No worries. This fellow hasn’t been in the Oval Office since 1909.

“Bully!” (meaning, “Great!” in his day) said Teddy Roosevelt, played by look-alike Joe Wiegand of the Oregon Historical Society, as students poured into the Holy Family gymnasium. They came to meet the man who went from sickly child to war hero and commander in chief who faced down America’s robber barons.

Roosevelt told the children about his boyhood, when he loved reptiles and amphibians. Once on the streets, when he tipped his hat to the wife of a senator, two toads fell out onto the distinguished woman’s shoes.

He said he had asthma as a boy and overcame it, despite the treatment of the day: cigars and coffee.

Roosevelt reminded students of his exploits in the Spanish American War and his political rise through the War Department to the White House. He said he convinced Congress to establish five national parks, including Crater Lake in southern Oregon. He called his Panama Canal a fine idea that greatly benefitted residents of the West Coast.

Loretta Wiltgen, principal of Holy Family, welcomed the visit from Roosevelt/Wiegand, who came because a school advisory board member has a connection with the Oregon Historical Society.

“He brought history alive,” said Wiltgen. “I wanted the students to know how important he was for the country.”

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