Who is Chris Tamarin?

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By Jim Teece, Joe Franell and Kim Tamarin

Chris Tamarin is a very private man. “He is quiet”, yet since at least 2006, he has blessed those of us in the audience with a booming and powerful voice as he moderates parts of the Oregon Connection Conference. 

He retired from his job as Telecommunications Strategist at the Oregon Broadband Office at the end of 2020 and this will be his last conference as chair so I wanted to do a story on him and thank him for his decades of service to Oregon and its citizens. 

Chris has been a great resource in the state to help all of us in the industry navigate and grow. He has been the “voice” of cause in Oregon Telecommunications.

I asked around to those of us that have worked with him for years, but none of us really knew his entire background. 

So I reached out to his wife, Kim, and we had a very nice chat about Chris and his life before we all got to work with him and what their plans are now. We both knew that Chris would not enjoy this article and be a little upset about it but we thought it was important to thank him for his service this way.

Note: Chris was a big help to me putting the special edition of the journal together. I sent him proofs of every story. Every story except this one. Surprising Chris is half the fun. 

This is how she remembers it. 

“Chris was born and raised outside the Philadelphia area, in the Jenkintown area and graduated from Abington Senior High School. He went to a small college a couple of hours outside of Philadelphia called Elizabethtown and got his bachelor of science degree in Business Administration and Management. He was also heavily involved in Drama Club. He did a lot of theater.” 

OK. That’s a fun fact and explains why he has such a fantastic stage voice. 

Kim and Chris met in Philadelphia. Their grandmothers hooked them up when she was back there for a visit when she was 16.

Kim is a native Oregonian from the Portland area. 

She recalls that he graduated in 1972 and they were married in 1975. 

They married and moved to Reno, Nevada the following week where he went to the University of Nevada for his MBA in Business Administration. 

They were in Reno for three years.

He worked in an independent home supply store after graduation and then he got a job teaching at Eastern Oregon State College in La Grande, Oregon. He taught business marketing there for a couple of years.

Then they moved back to Portland to work for Ma Bell and then back to La Grande where he taught for a couple more years. 

He saw teaching as a stepping stone. He was wanting to get a masters in telecommunications. 

They ended up in Boulder, Colorado where he got his Masters of Science in Telecommunications. She recalls that was in 1986 or 87. 

And then they moved back to Portland where he went to work for US West in large accounts. 

US West became Qwest and that is when Chris got a job with the state. He has been with the state for 19 years. 

They just celebrated 46 years of marriage on August 9th. 

They have two children. Joshua is in Philadelphia. He went to college back there and stayed.

Their daughter Erin also went to school in Philadelphia but saw Mount Hood one day while driving home and decided she was going to stay in Oregon. 

They haven’t figured out what ’s next yet, but she is trying to get him to go back and do a little theatre. If he does, I know every one of us will fill every seat in the house.

Congratulations on your retirement Chris. Thank you for your service and for all the help over the years. Every Oregonian benefits from your decades of service. 

I asked Joe Franell what he thought about Chris and his contributions and he said “I’ve known Chris almost as long as I have been in Oregon.  I remember the first time he and I met.  He was staffing the Oregon Telecommunications Coordinating Council (ORTCC), the predecessor of our current Oregon Broadband Advisory Council (OBAC).  I remember thinking, “Wow, this guy has got it all together.”  He was so very organized and professional in how he staffed the meeting. 

When I was first appointed to OBAC and was elected as Vice-Chair, I started to interact more with him and continued to be blown away with how effective and organized he was.  He did the work of three or four normal people and made it look effortless.  And, he held in his head what seemed to be an unlimited knowledge of the world of telecommunications and broadband.

Normally, you see people do that for a short period of time and then implode because of the workload.  Not Chris.  In the subsequent decade plus, while I have been serving as the Chair of OBAC, Chris never missed a beat and never once acted with anything less than as a perfect gentleman. 

One other thing.  In a world where people have adopted an overly casual and sometimes unkempt appearance as the accepted normal, Chris has never wavered from displaying the style and grace you would expect from a 19th century British gentleman.  I love that about him.  He religiously writes with a fountain pen and I always expect to see him pull out a pocket watch to check the time.  He is so cool!“

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