Dr. DeNorval Unthank (1899-1977) was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Kansas City, and received his medical degree from Howard University in Washington, DC. He moved to Portland in 1929 to start his own practice. He was on the staff of Good Samaritan, Providence, St Vincent, and Emanuel Hospitals. After retiring in 1970, he served as a medical consultant for the state workmen’s compensation board until 1976.
He won several awards for his work against racial discrimination as well as for his public service work. In 1958, the Oregon Medical Society named him Doctor of the Year. For his role in bringing down racial barriers, the city of Portland named this park in his honor in 1969. Unthank was the recipient of the distinguished citizenship award from the University of Oregon in 1971 and the citizenship award from Concordia College in 1975. Unthank was the first African American member of the Portland City Club. He was president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and cofounder of the Portland Urban League. Unthank sat on Oregon’s Committee for Equal Rights and the Council of Social Agencies. An important figure in the early civil rights movement in Portland, Unthank opened many doors and opportunities for other minorities.