A unique tune: Glen Damewood honored with First Citizen Award

July 2021 Posted in Community, Food & Drink, News, People

By Melissa Wagoner

First Citizen Glen Damewood performing with Syco Billy’s String Band.

Glen Damewood is a well-known, long-time restaurateur. The owner of Mac’s Place, which he opened with a partner in 1980, as well as two Wooden Nickel restaurants – one in Silverton and one in Sublimity – Damewood’s is a familiar face to many. 

On top of that, there’s his band, the Syco Billy’s String Band. Damewood initially created it as a way to bring music to his son, Brian, and his grandsons, Branden and Brad, after Brian was diagnosed with ALS. The band has played throughout Silverton since its creation in 2015. 

But what fewer people know is that there is yet another side to Damewood – the philanthropy side. 

“Glen has been a community supporter for many years,” Darby Hector, who nominated Damewood for the Silverton Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 First Citizen Award, wrote in her nomination. 

“He was a wonderful contributor to the Silverton Mayor’s Ball for many years, donating food and beverages; he helped with food donation to the SACA Community Benefit (which later became the Gala); he stepped up in a big way for the Oregon Garden when it was beginning – he donated for and furnished the kitchen at the Pavilion. He also supported the Oregon Garden with concert revenue.”

And these actions are just part of the list. Throughout the years Damewood has supported the Homer Davenport Community Festival by donating the trolley, organized entertainment and initiated the annual Kick-Off Party. He’s donated money, food and other goods to support fundraisers of all kinds held by schools, scholarship committees, alumni organizations, sports clubs and community assistance programs. And then, Damewood stepped up his game big time, serving over 400 meals to PGE line workers in the aftermath of last February’s ice storm and over 600 meals to firefighters during the Santiam Canyon wildfires in 2020. 

“[I]f anyone needs help he’s always the first person to offer,” Damewood’s daughter and Wooden Nickel Catering Manager Adrienne Rappleyea said when asked to describe her father’s community service efforts.

Joy Christine Ewing, manager of the Oregon Crafters Market – another, more recent, Damewood venture – agrees. 

“[H]e’s probably one of the most deeply caring men I’ve ever worked for or with,” she said, upon learning of Damewood’s award. “He really is a pretty great guy… does not like the attention of these kinds of things.”

Indeed, Damewood echoed those sentiments when asked how it felt to receive recognition. 

“I don’t like awards,” he said. Adding that, had he known he had been nominated, he would have suggested the honor be given to someone else. 

“It wasn’t just me,” he said, recognizing the many other individuals and businesses who also came to the community’s aid during the recent pandemic, ice storm and fires. 

“We’re in the food business, so we just did what we could. But the way the whole community stood up together…it’s been amazing.”

A graduate of Silverton High School, Damewood, 71, has worked hard to get where he is today, learning the restaurant and catering businesses from the inside out while raising two children and enjoying a successful music career. 

But things haven’t always been easy, Damewood’s businesses have weathered numerous dips in the economy – including the most recent COVID shutdowns. But through it all Damewood has persevered, even going so far as to open the Crafter’s Market – an entirely new concept in Silverton –
in the midst of a pandemic.  

“Next year the stage will be for the choir and the Choralaires,” Damewood said of his intention to support up and coming musicians through the use of the Rong Stage – a centerpiece of the market. 

The ideas don’t stop there. Damewood plans to set aside one booth each week designated for school fundraisers. That’s in addition to his support of the Silver Fox Foundation – a nonprofit raising money for SHS sports. 

“Glen has done so much – small donations and big endeavors – throughout the years,” Hector continued in her letter. “He is generous and believes/helps our community in so many ways. We believe he is deserving of this award.”

While Damewood professes a dislike for accolades, he is also grateful – though not as much on his own behalf as on the behalf of his numerous employees, many of whom have worked with him for years.

“Basically, anything good that happens, it’s all because of the people that work with me,” he said.

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