Rev. Hallgrimson recalls officiating for TV star, Eugene 'cat woman'
By THERESA HOGUE
A sign hung in the United Methodist Church in Eugene said it all: "Cat Woman Marries Crocodile Man."
That's what Pastor Dan Hallgrimson remembers as characterizing perfectly the marriage between Terri Raines and Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin.
Now pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Corvallis, in 1992 he was pastor at the United Lutheran Church in Eugene, and as a friend of Terri and her mother, Judy, he was asked to officiate at Terri's wedding to an Australian animal lover on June 4, 1992.
Terri and Judy participated in a tour of Israel with Hallgrimson in 1991, and shortly after she returned from the Holy Land, Terri headed to Australia. That's when the big cat lover met the Crocodile Hunter and fell in love. She came back and told Hallgrimson that she was going to marry an Australian.
"It was on their honeymoon that they made their first TV program," Hallgrimson said.
The wedding was held in the First United Methodist Church in Eugene, as the 225 invited guests were too many to fit in the small Lutheran Church. Guests included family from both sides of the Pacific, including Steve's father, Bob, who was in the wedding party, and a lot of Irwin's Australian surfing buddies.
"It was just a lot of fun," Hallgrimson said. "Those Australians were just different. They just had a great time."
Hallgrimson remembers Terri Irwin as being a passionate advocate for animals long before she met Steve Irwin.
"She had a pet cougar," he said. "She'd take it around to schools."
The couple seemed well matched, first for their love of animals, and later for their love of family.
"They've just been terrific parents," he said. "(Steve) was really devoted to his family."
Hallgrimson was reading news online when he learned of Steve Irwin's death after being stung in the heart by a sting ray.
"It was a stab in everybody's heart," he said. He watched the internationally televised tribute to Irwin that aired Tuesday night, and approved.
"It caught the essence of who he was and what he was about."
Theresa Hogue is a features reporter for the Gazette-Times. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 758-9526.