By Christi Baron
Forks Forum Editor
This year the Pioneer Logger Award nominees were all winners! It was a difficult decision, but two were chosen to be honored by the West End Business and Professional Association during Hickory Shirt-Heritage Days.
Pat Raben’s daughter-in-law Mary shared this wonderful nomination letter:
My vote for “Pioneer Logger 2017” is for my mother in law, Pat Raben. Not only did she have to travel back in the 60s back and forth from Monroe, Wa., with three kids in a station wagon, she had to run the household while Dale worked in the woods to get them ahead.
I think it was brave of both of them to take the risk of moving to the West End to try and better their lives. She had to work to raise the family alone for a while when Dale went to Forks to check out a new opportunity. Not only has Pat cheered on Dale through tree falling for years, she also supported Dale and Mark through the shake and shingle mills for decades.
Pat is proud and loves the history the Raben family has been raised on; the meaning of signage, “This family supported by the timber industry” is part of who she/they/we are! She has been part of the logging history through tough times and it’s heyday. This is why I believe Pat would make a perfect “Pioneer Logger 2017.”
Thanks for your consideration,
And WEBPA thought it was a great idea too.
Pat was born in Seattle and grew up in North Bend the daughter of a logger. After she graduated she went to work in Seattle at a Dime Store and then for Ma Bell as a switchboard operator. She was soon promoted to supervisor.
But after a chance meeting at the Swedish Dance Hall, where she met Dale, she was soon married and living in Cle Elum. After a time work was slow for Dale and he eventually got a phone call from Walt Tovey that there was work on the Peninsula. So Dale headed to Forks.
The job panned out and the biggest obstacle of getting the family back under one roof was housing … there was no place for a family with three kids to live. They finally found a rental and not long after purchased property and built a home that they still live in on Ash Avenue.
“At that time the road (Ash Avenue) was a dead end and all the kids played in the street. The first kids my kids met were the Riebe girls, they all had such a great time playing together,” Pat said.
While the family got settled into life in Forks, Pat experienced a loggers wife’s worst fear: an accident in the woods. Dale was a timber faller, one of the most dangerous jobs there is, and was hit by a snag. He suffered a broken leg and ribs, and compressed vertebrae.
“I remember trying to find the kids to let them know, everyone knew Dale was injured and I didn’t want someone else telling them,” Pat said.
Thankfully Dale recovered, and eventually went into the shake and shingle mill business with his son Mark.
I asked if Pat was ever asked to come to the mill and pack shakes? She laughed and said no, that her job was raising her children. She added, “I took care of everything except cutting the trees.”
Pat and Dale both say they would never go back to the communities they grew up in. “We love Forks.”
As for being the wife of a logger Pat said, “It was a lot of fun being the wife of a logger; you never really knew what is going to happen next.”
In 2013, Dale Raben was selected to receive the Pioneer Logger Award, when asked what he thought about his wife now getting it he said, “She deserves a medal!” WEBPA won’t be giving her a medal, but she does get a gift and a certificate and a chance to be honored with a ride in the Forks Old Fashioned Fourth of July Parade if she wants to.
Dale and Pat Raben are the second husband and wife team to receive the Pioneer Logger Award. In 2001, Joel Dahlgren received the award and in 2009 the late Ingrid Dahlgren was honored posthumously.
Next week, an interview with the other recipient.