St. Philip the Deacon Oral History Interviews


Rev. Alcena Boozer and Carl Deiz

Oral History Interviews:

Earlier this year, we conducted oral history interviews with Rev. Alcena Boozer and Carl Deiz of the St. Philip the Deacon Church and those interviews are now available online!

Rev. Alcena Boozer

Born Alcena Elaine Caldwell on March 19, 1938, Boozer was the Rector of the St. Philip the Deacon Parish for 17 years. Alcena grew up in Northeast Portland and was the fifth of six children. She studied education at Portland State University and got married during her last year in 1960. Over the next 14 years she taught Social Studies, was a counselor and eventually appointed Vice Principal at Grant High School. In 1983 she decided to go to Seminary at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She was one of the first women ordained in the Diocese of Oregon and one of only 3 African American women ordained in the Episcopal Church nationally. In 1993 Alcena Boozer became Rector of St. Philip in Portland, Oregon, the church she grew up in, and retired in 2012.

Interview 1 ~ Transcript and Audio 
Date: May 19, 2012
Length: 00:19:17
Abstract: Boozer discusses her family, especially how her mother and father met and her oldest brother, who was the first African American Pharmacist at OSU. She details her time at Portland State University, obtaining her Bachelors in Education and Graduate Certificate in Counseling, working at Grant High School as a teacher, counselor and vice principal, and leaving for Seminary at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She explains her husband’s occupation and her two sons Bentley and Clark. She shares her thoughts on the Church and her faith, how she came to the conclusion to become a Deacon, influential figures in her life. She concludes with her hobbies of activism, hiking and gardening.

Interview 2 ~ Transcript and Audio 
Date: May 30, 2012
Length: 01:03:27
Abstract: Boozer discusses the multiethnic neighborhood she grew up in Northeast Portland, the significant places people in the community would gather at, how her family hosted black entertainers from out of town, such as Lionel Hampton. She describes her time in school at the challenges she faced in high school. She details the day of the Vanport Flood, what she saw, what she heard and how the community reacted. How she met her husband and her wedding day. She then discusses her involvement in civil rights in the 60s, public demonstrations in Oregon, Freedom Riders, the ongoing Civil Rights Movement in Oregon, names main figures of the Civil Rights movement in Portland, her thoughts on national Civil Rights activists such as Malcolm X, Dr. King and the Black Panthers. She discusses her feelings on the last draft board and “Project Return.” Boozer explains her time at the Seminary, the transition from the Seminary to becoming a Reverend, her experience being Vicar of Emmanuel Missions in Birkenfeld and St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church, the changing demographic of St. Philip. Afterwards, she goes into details about past reverends, Ramsey Schadewitz, Karl Reich, Sally Lambert, and Richard Green. She concludes the interview by explaining the difficulty she had leaving the church when she retired, how the church is connected to the Urban League of Portland, and her thoughts her own life and what she has accomplished.

Carl Deiz

Born November, 16 1920, Deiz has been a prominent member of St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church since 1921. Raised in Northeast Portland, Carl graduated from Franklin High School and soon after worked on the railroad as a waiter. In 1942 he was drafted and sent to Montgomery, Alabama. His older brother, who had been drafted two years prior, had already been trained as a Tuskegee Airman. After finishing officer’s school in Miami, Carl arrived in Tuskegee and trained as a pilot. Upon not passing his last eye exam he became a supply officer at Tuskegee. He was discharge in 1945 and returned to Portland where he studied Business Administration at the University of Portland on the G.I. Bill. He eventually worked for the Forest Service and Bonneville Power Administration. In 1949 he married Mercedes Deiz, who became the first African American female judge in Oregon. Deiz continues to volunteer his time and effort at St. Philip the Deacon.

Interview 1 ~ Transcript and Audio
Date: May 19, 2012
Length: 00:33:32
Abstract: Deiz discusses his parents and their journey to Portland, working on the railroad as a waiter, being drafted and sent to Montgomery, Alabama in 1942. He explains his brother and his role in the Tuskegee Airmen, being discharged and attending University of Portland on the G.I. Bill. He concludes the interview by sharing information regarding his meeting and marrying his wife, Judge Mercedes Deiz, their three children, and his photography hobby as well as being a part of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

Interview 2 ~ Transcript and Audio 
Date: May 30, 2012
Length: 01:27:06
Abstract: Deiz discusses the Southeast Portland neighborhood he grew up in, the activities he was involved in as a kid, especially being a boy scout. He explains the personalities and lives of his parents. Deiz discussed his feelings about the Tuskegee program, how is brother was involved in the Tuskegee Airmen, the training process, how popular culture has portrayed the Tuskegee Airmen. He shares his memories on the Vanport Flood and what he lost in the flood. He explains how he met his wife, how she became a judge, what challenges if any she faced, and how he felt about her becoming a judge. Deiz concludes the interview by discussing his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in Portland and the place St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church has had in his life.

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One Response to St. Philip the Deacon Oral History Interviews

  1. Anne Morin says:

    I enjoyed reading these entries very much. It’s great to have this treasure-trove of African American voices! Thanks.

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