John McArdle

North Salem High School has been in existence over 100 years. The current version used to be known as just Salem High School. When a school has been in existence as long as North Salem, the number of graduates with athletic, academic, and community achievements is large. Many a Viking athlete has made their mark after their time at Salem's oldest high school. One of the most prominent is 1975 Viking graduate John McArdle.

John McArdle lettered in football, wrestling, and track as a Viking. He describes himself as an “okay” athlete who “got better”. By the time he finished at North Salem he most definitely had tapped his potential. He had shown himself to be a very good football player for the Vikings, but it was especially in track and field that he gave glimpses of what was to come. John loved sports and everything that came with participating in sports. So it only seemed natural that he would continue his athletic career when he headed to the University of Oregon. Never one to turn down a challenge, he continued to pursue his athletic goals as a Duck. That's when it all came together.

At the University of Oregon McArdle, played football as a freshman, but it was in track and field that he excelled. Originally wanting to throw the shot put for the Ducks, “Big John” was told that the team had plenty of shot putters. But they didn't have a hammer thrower. McArdle took the opportunity and ran, 'er threw. He took up the hammer throw and became a standout, becoming a two-time All-American and helping the U of O win two, then Pac-8, conference titles.

Post college McArdle began representing the United States at numerous track and field events throughout the world. Five short years after graduating from North Salem High School, at the age of 23, he attained a milestone that few in the U.S. reach, let along a young man from Salem, Oregon – he qualified for the 1980 Olympic team. Unfortunately, John never got his chance on the greatest track and field stage. The United Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), now Russia, invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The 1980 Olympic Games were designated to be held in Moscow, U.S.S.R. In protest of the invasion, then President Jimmy Carter announced, together with 65 other countries, a U.S. boycott of the Games. With that, McArdle, together with all of his U.S. Olympic teammates, lost their Olympic opportunity - an opportunity lost forever.

That lost opportunity was tragic, but John learned an important lesson as a result: despite the fact that you work hard to attain something and it doesn't happen, you don't stop your life. Disappointed, he didn't quit. He continued to compete as part of the U.S. National Team until the early '90s. In 1983 he competed in Helsinki, Finland as part of the 1983 Word Championships. He worked toward the 1984 Olympics to be held in Los Angeles but didn't make the team. Not finished, he was chosen as an alternate for the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea. 

John McArdle was not a “one trick pony”. While at North Salem, in addition to his athletic participation, he served as the junior class vice-president. After his athletic career ended, leadership seemed like a natural next step. He became involved in the Olympic movement as a board member for USA Track and Field and served on numerous U.S. and International Olympic committees. From 1994 – 2004 he actually helped to select U.S. athlete and coaches as well as helped to oversee housing and training facilities at each Olympic location. From 1998-2000 he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Board of Directors.

Leadership didn't end when he discontinued his official duties with the Olympics. John is and always has been committed to local public service. He has served as mayor of Independence, Oregon for over 25 years simultaneous to his 30 years in higher education as the Director of Development and Governmental Affairs at Linn-Benton Community College and Western Oregon University. He's also served with Oregon International Athletics, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, and Willamalane Park and Recreation. Independence was designated as an All-American City under his watch. He currently is a Senior Fellow at the Hatfield School of Government with Portland State University. In a long list of accomplishments, he is also:

The point is made. John McArdle has never been a man to rely on others to take charge. If it's worthwhile to do, it's worthwhile to fully jump in. John McArdle has excelled at everything he's done. He used his time at North Salem High School, including his athletic experiences as a Viking, to springboard into a life of leadership and service for all his varied communities. For that, John McArdle is a Beacon.

John has lived in Independence for 32 years. He has also been married to wife Patty Nevue for 32 years. They have an adult son Marcus.

By Bryan Sutherland