By Nancy Jennings
When she isn’t volunteering around town, Kathy Wall loves to travel. She is known to hit the open road in her camper van with her devoted dog, Mara, a copper-colored Vizsla. “Once I drove 8,700 miles on a trip,” she said. The Mount Angel resident also enjoys golfing, walking, hiking and jogging.
Having recently wrapped up the ninth annual Wurstfest, Wall, 71, has been a mainstay volunteer there since the second festival. As chairperson she has had a hand in planning, organizing and promoting the event.
Because of this dedication and more, she has earned the 2016 Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award. She learned about the award by her friend and fellow volunteer Mary Grant.
“I was flabbergasted. Mount Angel is a volunteering community. After only eight years, it’s pretty amazing,” Wall said.
Retired since 2008, Wall worked for 20 years as a civilian at the Department of Defense (DoD) as a speech therapist and special educator. She was stationed at the Soesterberg Air Force Base in Holland. She also worked in England and Germany.
She first moved to Mount Angel in 1980. She worked at the Willamette Education Service District, which provides special education services.
During her years at the DoD, she took sabbaticals periodically which brought her back to Mount Angel, keeping her connected with friends and family.
She always planned on retiring in Mount Angel to be near her three children and four grandchildren. Her twin sons live in Mount Angel, and her daughter lives in Vancouver, Wash.
“Even when I was away, this was always ‘home,’” she said.
Wall formerly delivered “Meals on Wheels” and volunteered at St. Mary Parish activities and at the Hazelnut Festival. During Oktoberfest she volunteers at the chamber booth, the Weingarten, Alpinegarten and at the Information Booth. She is the chamber board treasurer.
Grant has known Wall for over 30 years. “She pours her heart and soul into things. She has put hundreds of hours into the Wurstfest,” Grant said.
“When Kathy moved back home for good, she jumped right into the fire. She deserves the award for the hundreds of hours that she has put into community service in Mount Angel,” she added.
Jean Hannan, who has known Wall for 25 years, echoes this sentiment. “She gives a lot. She’s generous with her time, organized and gets the job done,” she said.
“I could depend on her to be there when I needed her. She has a sense of humor – and as volunteers – we should be enjoying ourselves.”
By Melissa Wagoner
Randy Wavra began volunteering right out of high school when he joined the Knights of Columbus.
“Volunteering is just part of who I am because of how my parents raised me. When somebody comes calling I try to help out as much as I can,” he explained.
Wavra, a long-time resident of Mount Angel, spent his career as a Territory Manager for Pape Machinery.
“Volunteering and my career go hand in hand I would say. What it does is show people you really do care and want to give back to the community we live in. At the same time, it gives me a chance to stay in front of the people and customers that have been good to me in my sales career,” he said.
In the early 1980s Wavra was asked to join the Mount Angel Fire Department. He spent the next 15 years as a volunteer firefighter.
“The hardest part would be calls in the middle of the night and having to go to work without much sleep,” he said.
He also spent many years serving on the Mount Angel Oktoberfest board and helping with the celebration.
“During my years of service on the Oktoberfest board, I designed the original operation plan for the set-up and tear down of the Oktoberfest, which is a major job,” Wavra said.
In 2010 Wavra helped to raise money for the Mount Angel Festhalle with the Farmer’s Auction. John Gooley, who has known Wavra since elementary school and who has volunteered with him on several projects, explained that with Wavra’s connections to the farming community they were able to solicit donations that helped to raise over $2 million.
“He basically brought in the first check when we started fundraising,” Gooley said. “He has been a great sidekick for many, many years. He is just one of those guys that will never say no when you need someone to help you. No matter what the job is, if you need someone, he’s there to help.”
Wavra will be honored with the 2016 Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award for the many years he has spent giving back to his community.
“I really appreciate the recognition,” he said, “however, I couldn’t volunteer all my time without the support of my wife, Rosie. I was a volunteer firefighter and a member of the Oktoberfest board at the same time, which required a lot of time away from my family while my wife was at home raising our four children, which was a big job.”