So you want to be a logger? According to this year’s Hickory shirt – Heritage Days Pioneer Logger Award recipient, Richard Halverson, stand in a 50-degree shower for 4 hours, eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which you have had in your pocket, and then stand in the cold shower for another 4 hours … if you like that, then come back the next day and you too can be a logger.
Halverson was born in Forks and after graduating high school spent some time in the Army. His first job in the woods was with Edward’s and Rhyne Logging Company.
Halverson, who most people know as “Squat,” started out setting chokers, but while working in the cold rain he noticed that the guys operating the machines had it way better. So it wasn’t long before he learned to run yarder and log loader. His next job would last 35 years with Dahlgren Logging, of Forks. Halverson said his most interesting experience of his logging career was when Dahlgren’s packed up and moved their operations to Mt. St. Helens in 1981.
So soon after the Mountains big eruption in May of 1980 Halverson remembers the area like a moonscape on one side and the regular lush green forest on the other. “We salvaged timber for about three years, working in the ash, we were there long enough to see the plants, like dandelions and other small weeds, start to come back, even the elk started to return,” Halverson shared.
Halverson has “retired” multiple times, the first time from Dahlgren’s in 2000. He then got a call from Dean Hurn, Hoh River Timber, and returned to loading logs for another 10 years. He most recently retired from working for Randy Parker, helping with road building and other tasks as needed.
The need for a new ankle finally retired him for good but it didn’t slow him down much!
Since his most recent retirement Halverson, who is seventy-four-years-old, has taken to volunteering as one of the Forks Chamber of Commerce’s Logging and Mill Tour Guides. Halverson has plenty of stories to share with those that take the long-running tours that tell the story of the timber and mill industry in the West End.
“I like to volunteer for the community, I get it from my mom, she was in everything,” Halverson said. Halverson’s mother was Inez Halverson better known as “Halvey” a long-time 4-H leader, active with the Clallam County Fair and so many other West End organizations. Halverson said his late wife Andi also liked to volunteer. Halverson lost his wife Andi just this past August.
Halverson was also a Clallam County District 1 fire commissioner for 20 years. He now also serves on the board for the Forks Timber Museum. Museum director Linda Offutt said, “If we need new picnic tables or signs at the museum, Richard is there to do it, bam ..we have new picnic tables, we appreciate his help so much.”
Halverson recently attended a grandchild’s graduation at Western, he wore his hickory shirt to the graduation ceremony. When asked why, he said, “I wanted to show I had graduated with a logging degree.”
The Pioneer Logger Award, in the beginning, in 1981, was awarded to real “Pioneer Loggers” many of whom worked and remembered the days of springboards and the move from the misery whip to the first chain saws. The pioneer loggers are gone but the honor is still bestowed each year to an individual who embodies that spirit of hard, honest work. The award is sponsored by the West End Business and Professional Association.
Past honorees: 1981 Lawrence Brager, 1982 Hassel Ray, 1983 Perry Duncan, 1984 E.L Whitehead, 1985 Ernie King, 1986 Walt Roberg, 1987 Bill Wentworth, 1988 Ted Spoelstra, 1989 Floyd Thornton, 1990 Joe Bunker, 1991 Wiley Duncan, 1992 Bob Tuttle Sr., 1993 Martin Dimmell, 1994 Edwin Duncan, 1995 Ray Hull, 1996 Maynard Lucken, 1997 Del Huggins, 1998 Richard Miller, 1999 Lawrence Gaydeski, 2000 Jack Olson, 2001 Joel Dahlgren, 2002 Kaye Kelso, 2003 Lloyd Allen and Myron Simmons, 2004 Rocky Fletcher Sr., 2005 Wally Crippen, 2006 Eleanor Thornton, 2007 E.C. Gockerell, 2008 Gene Spaulding, 2009 Ingrid Dahlgren, 2010 Carroll Koenke, 2011 Jess Parris, 2012 Willard Morgan, 2013 Dale Raben, 2014 Fred Shaw, 2015 Jack Merrick, 2016 Ernie Nielsen and Jay Sarnowski, 2017 Pat Raben and Oscar Peterson, 2018 Homer Kesterson, 2019 Richard Halverson