The event now known as the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction turns 51 this year. At its inception, it was known as the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Fund. It began with a group of Forks residents looking for a way to help Forks High School graduates achieve higher educational goals.
The original organizers felt that due to the remoteness of the community the cost of college or trade school education was not always within reach for many Forks families. So a group of local business people and educators wanted to find a way to help, and in a way give back for the success and achievements they had experienced living in the West End.
In February 1964, the first meeting of the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Fund Corporation and various contract logging operators was held at the Vagabond cafe to begin the drive among local industries for scholarship funds. Robert Rosmond, chairman for industrial contacts, conducted the meeting. It was decided that any young person with “promise and need” would get a scholarship; the immediate goal was $1,000. The kick-off dinner was at the Russ Thomas home.
In 1966, a “Forks Style Banquet” was held at the Congregational Church featuring steelhead, elk, Swedish meatballs and Swiss steak; admission was by donation at the door, by this time the organization had raised a total of $6,300 and awarded 39 scholarships.
In 1968, the scholarship fund got a boost from radio. Radio station owner Gordon Otos held an impromptu auction on the local radio station, KVAC, selling off co-owner Bruce Elliott’s birthday gifts on the air. As the gifts ran out locals started donating more items and more people started bidding. It went on for several days and the only reason they stopped was because they got tired.
Over the years the dinners were phased out and the radio format took over. By 1980, the event had outgrown the radio station and Northwestern National Bank offered up its lobby as a place to hold the auction and still broadcast it live over the radio.
Eventually the event outgrew Northwestern Bank and was moved to the Bank of America building. In 1987, the Olympic Correction Center inmates began creating items for the auction. Over the years those items have contributed thousands of dollars to the fund.
In the mid-1990s the local cable company put the event on the local advertising channel 19. The annual two-day event began taking in $20,000, then $30,000, then in 1998 a new record for two days of $58,000.
In 2008, the auction took in over $71,000 and a basket donated by Muriel Huggins brought in $3,100.
After many successful years in the Bank of America building, the event was moved in 2012 to the Forks High School Commons, although not directly affiliated with the school the event is now hosted by FHS, with the Senior Parents providing concessions for hungry bidders, with those proceeds going to “Senior Safe Night.”
Thanks to the original board members Robert Rosmond, Harvey King, Russ Thomas, Larry Wagg, A. Nordman, Mrs. Herman Waters and Mrs. George Thompson, since its inception the QVSA has raised over $1 million to assist Forks grads with scholarships.
Last year’s auction beat the all-time record with $77,000 plus taken in over the two-day event. The QVSA is an event that is undefinable and speaks to the amazing heart of the community we live in! See you at the auction!