Every year since 1981 a “pioneer logger” has been honored during the annual Hickory Shirt/Heritage Days celebration in Forks. This award is presented by the West End Business and Professional Association. Past recipients have received plaques, certificates and other items acknowledging their contribution to the timber industry. Many have not only left their mark on the West End economy but have made Forks the community it is today.
Lawrence Brager was the first to receive the award. Born in Seattle, he and his brother came to Forks around 1935 and ran a logging company. His job usually was running steam donkey.
Hassell Ray received the award in 1982. Raised in North Carolina, he came to Beaver in 1947 and worked for Rayonier until his retirement in 1980. His job was falling and bucking.
The next winners were Perry Duncan, Elsworth Whitehead, Ernie King and in 1986 Walter Roberg. In addition to working in the timber industry, Roberg was once mayor of Forks and a county commissioner in the 1950s. Roberg died in December of that same year.
In 1987, Bill Wentworth received the award, next was Ted Spoelstra, then Floyd Thornton, Joe Bunker and Wiley Duncan in 1991. Duncan was born on the Quillayute Prairie; his father Perry had been a previous recipient of the award. He was a busheler.
In 1992, Bob Tuttle Sr. was honored. In addition to operating a logging company, Tuttle also raised cattle and had a tree farm. Next was Martin Diimmel, then Ed Duncan, Ray Hull, Maynard Lucken, Del Huggins, Richard Miller and in 1999 Lawrence Gaydeski. Gaydeski also served as county commissioner. At the dedication of the Forks Logger Memorial in May 1992 Gaydeski tried to explain who a logger is and why anyone would choose this line of work.
In 2000, Jack Olson was chosen, then Joel Dahlgren and in 2002 Kaye Kelso was selected posthumously, his family accepting the award.
In 2003, Lloyd Allen and Myron Simmons were both chosen, in 2004 Rocky Fletcher Sr. was honored. Wally Crippen in 2005 was not only a veteran of the woods, but also served in World War II and was at the Battle of the Bulge.
In 2006, the first woman to receive the award was Eleanor Thornton, a member of a local pioneer family; her husband Floyd previously had been honored.
In 2007, E.C. Gockerell was honored for his time at the Forks Department of Natural Resources. Gene Spaulding was picked in 2008 and in 2009 Ingrid Dahlgren was the second woman to be selected and the second time the award had been presented posthumously.
Next up was Carroll Koenke. Sometimes when potential honorees are contacted that they have been chosen for this award they are really, well, less than pleased. Most don’t want any fuss or recognition. Winner Koenke said he would accept the award on one condition; he did not want to ride in the Fourth of July parade. After much convincing and the promise of no parade, he accepted.
Willard Morgan was honored next and last year’s winner was Dale Raben.
The Hickory Shirt award continues to represent the spirit of those who have been honored before. The winners of this years award will be presented Wednesday, Oct. 8 at the WEBPA meeting 7:30 a.m. at JT’s Sweet Stuffs.