Community, Cottage Grove

Grovers gone, but not forgotten

In reading the local obituaries, the past year has brought about much nostalgia and memories of so many community leaders who have left their fingerprints and footprints on projects in Cottage Grove. Many have left indelible wonderful memories working with them on community projects. The other day I opened the paper, and there was an obit for Jack Gates. I remember when Jack and his wife, Joyce, first came to Cottage Grove. I met with them in the Shepherd Room at the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce as they were very interested in the Chamber, the business community and the history of the area. They spoke of the ranch they occupied in California, and were proud of the 60-plus years of their marriage. What an interesting couple. They were leather crafters. In 2018, the mayor of Coquille and I were to ride in Jack’s lovingly restored 1927 Ford during the Bohemia Mining Days parade. At the last minute, there was a breakdown and other transportation had to be found. Jack and his wife were so interested in the carousel. They wanted to be part of it. They were contributors, with enthusiasm to a newly-adopted community. Jack will be missed. Another obituary on that page was Mary Boyd. I had worked with Mary at Bohemia Elementary in the early 1990s. She had retired after many years with South Lane School District. Mary was a faithful worker, most dependable, and was always there to lend a helping hand. Also, an obituary of Susan Tyrk – Sujo. She is another woman who will be greatly missed in the community of doers. Many years ago, I worked with Sujo on several projects, including BMD, Dr. Pierce Barn, and of late, the carousel project. She was so enthused to design the first, second and third brochures. She designed placemats and buttons – all promoting the carousel. So many projects – so many memories. And then there is Charles McLaughlin. Chuck and I had much in common from the motion picture industry. He started his career in Nebraska as a motion picture theatre manager. In Omaha he was the president of his Rotary club. He was a longtime Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow. He came to our Rotary Club while manager of Cinemax and Movies 12 at the Gateway Cinema in Springfield. He was a longtime Mason and Shriner. He is another person I learned so many skills and procedures from. He will be missed. Pat Patterson came to Cottage Grove as line chief for PP&L Power company. He went on to be a city councilman. When I needed political introductions to set up meetings, Pat was the man I called on. He was instrumental in so many projects in Cottage Grove. The one I like to point out, I just learned a few months ago by a Lion. When they set the Centennial Bridge in place (the covered bridge by Cottage Grove City Hall, built out of two dismantled covered bridges from the past), Pat dug in his pocket and pulled out three new pennies dated 1986 – the year the bridge was put in place. He put the pennies on the pier the bridge was anchored on. When I was considering the carousal project, I talked to him about whether he thought it would be successful. Pat went on to write a check as a contribution. Bob Ehler is another one who appeared in the paper. I had met Bob as Marshall of BMD. He had a great bicycle pay-it-forward program. About the time the carousel was being moved from storage to the WOE fairgrounds, Bob and I had coffee. We talked about the carousel project, and he became a great supporter of the carousel. He was so delighted when I called him up to tell him something was happening, and he would come see the latest. He was a craftsman and a machinist; it was a privilege and honor to know and work with him. Steve Woodard was a person I went to for local information and history, the forestry industry or agriculture in general. I had the privilege of serving on South Lane Translator Board with Steve for several years. He was the county extension agent, and was highly respected by the community. When Jean and I came from Everett to Cottage Grove in 1975, Carole Blomquist was front-desk manager at the Village Green Resort. Because of my duties with my job in Everett and Cottage Grove, Carole was instrumental in helping Jean around Cottage Grove, and we became good friends with Carole and her husband, Phil. Carole retired from South Lane School District. Marcia Allen was undoubtedly the queen of the Historical Society and the history of Cottage Grove. She was born and raised here, and her father was the first fire chief. Her son, Steve, followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and took over for Chief Bruce Lamb when he passed away. Bruce had been a volunteer fireman, went through fire and paramedic school, became a full-time fireman, and drove a school bus for South Lane School District. Oh, so many memories. So many lunches and breakfasts with Marcia talking about history, the Dr. Pierce Barn, the Gerlock Films, looking at hundreds of photos, becoming familiar with long-forgotten names. We set up film meetings at the Lane Community College campus for an audience of 16-20 people who were children at the time of the filming to identify people in the BMD parade years ago. We always took a break for snacks, and the highlight was Marcia’s deviled eggs! Her husband, Boyd, had a great sense of humor, and always referred to the Historical Society as the Hysterical Society. A wonderful family, wonderful to work with. I feel very blessed to have been a part of that time in Cottage Grove and Creswell. In my almost 40 years in the community, I relied on advice from Joy and Cart Woodard. I have valued their support and direction, and I learned from them valuable lessons of humanity, caring and the value of the community. Valuable friendships, educational advice. We must recognize Judy Cash for her donation of the carousel, for the happiness of generations now and to come in the South Valley. She did not live long enough to see her carousel revolve, with the band organ playing in Cottage Grove. But through her enthusiasm and generosity, the carousel is now spinning, after her long struggle to bring it to pass. Judy and her family will always be remembered as the idea people behind the carousel project, and the donation of the carousel to the people of the southern Willamette Valley. Many planning meetings, early on, over breakfast, were one of the many highlights I’ve had in a lifetime of planning events. Always a delightful pleasure, and with a positive attitude. One last person I must mention who appeared in the obituaries a few months ago is Kathy Kingsbury. She had that special talent of being an excellent salesperson. I’ve had several people tell me that she would charm the birds out of a tree! She had the vested knowledge of promotion, TV storyboarding, and in-depth knowledge of FCC rules pertaining to public service announcements. In other words, she understood, better than most, the technique of promotion and advertising. Kathy and I had discussed, many times, a promotional method of the carousel project. She is greatly missed in these fields, where she had professionalism and knowledge, having spent years in the TV industry in sales. So many people, so many positive memories. 

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