In the public eye

On January 31, 1965, Jim Westwood made his first television appearance, but it would not be his last. Westwood and his Portland State College (PSC) classmates had made it onto the nationally broadcast GE College Bowl quiz show. The team flew to New York and went head-to-head with other educational institutions while the entire country watched. “It was a really big deal for all of us,” says Westwood, the PSC team captain. “I had never been east of Coeur d’Alene.”
A physics major during the 1960s Space Race, Westwood says everyone wanted to help the U.S. get a man into space. “But I was beating my head against a wall with physics,” he confides. “I almost transferred to a different school, but then I answered an ad in the Vanguard to try out for the College Bowl team. That was pivotal for me.”

Game Changer

At the time, PSC was virtually unknown on a national level. Then, the team began to win. Every win sent the team back East for another weekend’s competition. “By the third week, we were thinking this was pretty cool,” Westwood recalls. “I went to the Benson Tech Show and was mobbed by people wanting autographs and handshakes.”

On Sunday, March 1, Westwood and the PSC team scored their fifth and final win, retiring them as undefeated champions. “Our plane landed at 2 a.m. and there were about 700 people at the airport to cheer us on. We were the toast of the town.”  The state legislature invited the team to Salem, and Westwood addressed the Senate and House. Later that month, Time magazine ran an article on how the College Bowl victories helped change PSC’s image. “The floodgates opened for higher education funding and the college became PSU a few years later,” says Westwood. “I think the College Bowl really helped turn the corner for PSU.”      

Switching Channels

Drawing on some earlier training in meteorology, Westwood found himself on television again – this time as KGW’s Saturday weatherman. He changed his major to history and, although the Vietnam War was underway, Westwood received a draft deferral to finish school.

After PSC, he went to law school at Columbia University for a year before applying to Officer Candidate School in the Navy. With an aptitude for languages, Westwood was trained as a Thai linguist and stationed in the Philippines.

When his service ended, he finished law school at Columbia and joined the Portland law firm that became Miller Nash. “I didn’t like litigation and hated trial work, however, so I took a job at PSU as Assistant to President of Legal Affairs.”

Miller Nash asked him to return to establish an appellate department. Westwood found his legal niche and stayed at Miller Nash as an appellate lawyer for 21 years. In 1999, he moved to Stoel Rives. Although Westwood retired in 2014, he’s still Stoel Rives’ Senior Counsel. “I work about 10 percent of the time. Basically, it’s like every morning is Saturday. Life is good.”

A former President of the PSU Alumni Board, Westwood remains active in PSU’s 1620 Club. He volunteers at local nonprofits and coaches high school constitutional law teams. But Westwood’s preferred role is as a grandfather. “The most fun I have these days is spending time with my family.”