Rich Vial Biography
Biography by Chris Vial
It is my honor to serve as the voice of our family and to tell you a little bit about our Dad, Rich Vial. Our Dad is running for State Senate in the new district 18, which covers Scholls, Aloha, and West Beaverton as a nonpartisan candidate and he’s exceptionally qualified to do so. He’s shown a deep commitment to our communities over the past 40 years and has spent his life building businesses, farming, and volunteering on numerous boards and commissions. He’s not a career politician and he’s committed to making a difference and finding solutions, not advancing his own personal agenda.
Rather than tell you about his politics, I’d like to share a little bit about our family history with the hope that I can shed some light on who dad really is and what you might expect from him.
RICH AND PAULA
Rich’s story really can’t be told without first mentioning our mother, Paula. Our parents were married in December of 1975, and in that nearly 47 years of marriage have built quite a life together. In addition to raising myself and 5 other siblings, our parents, through circumstances they never could’ve imagined, came to welcome 7 additional children who came to America as refugees from Vietnam in the 1970’s and 80’s. Our large family is committed to one another and we’re all very proud and supportive of our father in his desire to serve.
Rich and Paula met in high school in their hometown of Grants Pass. They immediately fell in love and dated for a number of years. They were married after Rich’s return from a church mission to Japan. Rich went on to attend BYU, graduating in 1978 with a degree in Business and Accounting, and followed that up with a law degree from Willamette University in Salem. It wasn’t easy for them, and with three children at home by the time he graduated from law school, Rich began his career–broke and in debt, but full of hope for the future!
My Mom, Paula, has always been the rock in our family, handling the daily tasks of caring for a husband and 13 children with grace and a ton of patience. I know my Dad would give her much of the credit for his success and be the first to tell you that she’s exceptional in every way. He often refers to her as his secret weapon.
THE EARLY YEARS
Rich landed a job with a prominent law firm in downtown Portland and became a specialist in community law, having worked for the condominium section of the Oregon Real Estate Division during law school. Rich and Paula began to finally get ahead and even expand their family, but they had no idea what was about to occur and how much their family would grow in the next few years.
NEW ADDITIONS TO THE FAMILY
In the early 1980’s, many refugees from the war in Southeast Asia had found their way to Oregon. Because of his experience during his church mission to Japan, Rich was asked to help coordinate his church’s efforts to assist these refugees. It was through this work that Rich met my oldest brother, Hoa.
While Rich was coaching some of these young men in basketball, he and Paula began inviting young Hoa over to eat with the family and quickly realized that having arrived in the US as a teenager with virtually no family, he was not getting his basic needs met. They arranged for him to become a permanent member of the family and took guardianship over him. They had no idea how this would lead to a complete transformation of our family.
THE MOVE TO SCHOLLS
With the addition of Hoa, it became apparent that the home they were living in was just too small. Rich and Paula began looking for the small farm they’d always dreamed of raising their family on. One day, an advertisement in The Oregonian caught their eye, describing a beautiful 24-acre parcel in the farming community of Scholls. They drove out to take a look at the property and were immediately struck by the natural beauty of the farms and homes around them. Unfortunately, the home advertised in the paper was actually a barn in the very, VERY early stages of conversion to a house.
Having been through several remodels in the past, it was a difficult decision whether or not to buy the property and finish the conversion. Despite some reservations, the entire family felt a strong connection with the property, and young Hoa even felt like he’d been there before with others of his family. It was settled. Within a few short days, a deal had been worked out with the owner of the property, and the family got to work making the “barn” livable enough to move into.
Over the years, they cleared land, began raising livestock and growing crops, and gradually got the “barn” to resemble a home. Meanwhile, Hoa had received a letter from 2 cousins currently living in a refugee camp in the Philippines.
The Vial family discussed it and, after considerable effort, the family was finally able to welcome Thuan and Tiet into the family. Later, cousins Chuong, Chinh, and Cuong also joined the family, followed by Hai. These children blessed the Vial family tremendously and, with the arrival of 2 more birth children, Rich and Paula quickly became the parents of four girls and nine boys. It became clear why they needed a “barn” to house their family.
STARTING A LAW FIRM
Beginning in the late 80’s, Rich decided to take the unique practice he had developed in the area of community associations and form his own law firm. At first, Paula was the bookkeeper, and Rich did everything else. With their good friend, Denese Jensen (who still works at the firm), and founding partner, Rob Fotheringham, the little firm quickly established itself and experiences a lot of success today.
The firm continues to grow and has become one of the premier law firms in the nation with an emphasis in supporting condominium and planned communities. With offices in 6 western states, the firm now employs more than 100 people and serves tens of thousands of homeowners and communities throughout the region. Although trying hard to retire, Rich is still recognized throughout the United States as a leader on matters of community operation, and his expertise has helped countless clients navigate difficult challenges and protect their homes over the years.
A NEW CHAPTER
After more than 30 years of advocating on behalf of these communities, Rich began in December of 2015 to transition ownership and control of the law firm to the next generation of lawyers. Having just finished helping Paula put together the “grandkid preschool and piano studio” facility, he found himself in a position to serve even more significantly in his community.
And the barn? Well, after the tornado of kids, friends, dogs, and weather, it was getting a little tired and needed some work.
When my youngest brother, Nathan, moved out in 2008 to start his own family, Rich and Paula decided that they wanted to share the home with their community. They got to work on the biggest remodel project of their lives in 2009 and, after several years, renamed their home the Scholls Valley Lodge.
Today, they share the lodge with many families and community organizations, celebrating everything from weddings to funerals. They love the spirit of community and feeling the warmth that permeates from their home that’s quickly becoming a mainstay of the region.
Rich spends more of his time operating the farm, and is proud to provide fresh table grapes to children in many of the metro area school districts through the innovative “Farm to School” program. The Vial Family Farm was one of the early pioneers of this great program that provides nutritious food to our public schools.
Today the family has been fortunate to acquire additional farms that my siblings and I live on and operate. All told we are responsible for about 275 acres in the Scholls valley, and another 300 acres in Christmas Valley, Oregon. Dad truly loves the land and is an avid birder, making sure that each of his grandchildren get a print of one of his bird photo’s every year on their birthday with a personal letter from him.
After first being elected to the House of Representatives in 2016, Rich immediately became effective as a legislator. This is because he has the right blend of public service and private sector experience to inform his decisions and because he’s had a front-row seat in dealing with some of the biggest challenges facing our region: transportation, land use and housing policy, and education.
In addition to serving on numerous local boards and commissions, Rich has written landmark legislation and helped to protect homeowners and community associations by working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to achieve workable solutions.
Rich’s previous public service includes:
Former Deputy Secretary of State
Former State Representative, House District 26
Former Chair, Groner School Board
Former Chair, Washington County Planning Commission
Member, Clean Water Services Advisory Commission
Former Member, Washington County Land Use Advisory Committee
Former Chair, Washington County Fair Board
Former Board Member, Washington County Farm Bureau
Rich’s extensive public service has left him with a profound sense that partisanship and the tendency to demonize the other is dividing us as a community. He is running for office as a non-partisan in the hope that he can help heal the wounds that have divided us.
LEAVING A LEGACY
With 46 loved ones who call them “Grandma” and “Grandpa”, Rich and Paula are blessed to have a life rich with meaning and joy. They often tell us that they only hope they can teach their children and grandchildren as much as they have learned from them.
Both blessed with excellent health, (my dad, like his dad before him, looks 20 years younger than his age), my parents feel like they have entered the most exciting phase of their life thus far, and look forward to continuing to contribute to their community.
Rich and Paula don’t feel particularly special. They remark that they are glad to be just one of many families in this community who love their children, and love sharing the challenges and joys of life with their friends and neighbors. What does feel special to them is that they’ve found a place where they belong and are lucky enough to be part of such a wonderful community.
Many years ago, I asked my Mom why she chose Dad to marry. Her response describes him well: “He was the smartest and hardest-working person I had ever met.” I believe it is her faith in Rich that has given him the drive to push such that he now finds himself in a position to both serve and lead.
We have been grateful as children for his example of hard work, vision, and wise decision-making. While we as a family would not describe ourselves as particularly political, our community is important to us. We are happy that Dad is seeking to continue this opportunity to make a positive difference.
It boils down to this. We don’t agree with our Dad on everything, but we trust him implicitly. He’s proven over his lifetime that he cares deeply about the needs of others, and we know he’ll continue that dedication to service as a State Senator.
We’re proud of our father, and we’d like you to join us in voting for Rich Vial for Senate District 18.
Thank you very much!