A lifetime of service

Charles and Alma Ladd provide assistance and leadership around the community

A local couple that has been involved in just about every area of community service is being recognized for their contributions of time and talents.

Charles “Chuck” and Alma Ladd, of Camas, have been selected as Camas Days Senior Royalty.

Both said they were very surprised.

“I had never dreamed of being a king,” he said.

“It is a big honor, totally unexpected,” she said. “They’re very sneaky.”

Alma was referring to her fellow members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Camas-Washougal Women’s Club, who voted unanimously at their February meeting to endorse the Ladds for the Royal titles.

“These two deserving individuals are both life-long residents of Camas/Washougal, continue to devote countless hours to their community and are passionate about enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service,” the nomination letter states.

Alma is often referred to as “the plant lady,” at the Two Rivers Heritage Museum, in Washougal. In addition to serving as the chairwoman of plant sales, she has watered, weeded, mowed, dug and planted much of the greenery on the museum’s grounds. Charles has assisted with those efforts.

Alma served 14 years as volunteer coordinator at the museum. Charles has helped with tours there.

He recalled startling a girl who thought he was a mannequin.

“I was sitting still, and I moved my head,” Charles remembered.

Alma is the vice president of the Camas-Washougal Historical Society. She also served as the refreshment chairman and provided food for the volunteers who reset historical scenes and displays.

Her ancestors homesteaded in the Mount Pleasant area in 1909.

Alma, 70, and Charles, 73, have been married for 49 years.

“We are getting old, but it beats the alternative,” she said. “Birthdays are definitely something to celebrate.”

Charles graduated from Camas High School in 1961, and Alma graduated from Washougal High School two years later.

They met at Smitty’s Restaurant, in Camas, when she was a waitress.

Charles was a Washougal police officer for two years when he was disabled in a high-speed car chase May 24, 1969. The accident left him in a coma, and he spent five weeks in an intensive care unit. After two months recovering in a hospital, Charles — then a police sergeant — underwent additional surgeries.

Alma was injured in a car accident in 1998, which resulted in head injuries and memory loss.

“These two life-long volunteers embrace the circumstances of life and never lose sight of the passion they have for their community,” the nomination letter stated.

Alma joined the GFWC C/W Women’s Club in 1973 and has served in many local, district and state leadership roles related to that organization. As a member of LaCamas Navy Mothers Club 570, she has served meals to veterans during a “Stand Down” event, at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, in Vancouver.

Friendships are among the rewards of volunteering, she said.

Alma and Charles, both cancer survivors, have participated in the Relay for Life of East Clark County, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. She has served three years as captain of the GFWC “Alma’s Avengers” relay team.

The Ladds have served coffee and homemade cookies at the Gee Creek rest stop, while collecting donations for the GFWC.

“You meet all kinds of interesting people,” Alma said.

She has assembled bags for children testifying at the Clark County Courthouse.

“They include books and crayons, to entertain them,” she said.

The Ladds assemble bags for children involved in the “Operation Smile” program. The contents include muslin dolls that children can color their new smiles on.

The Holly House, a domestic violence shelter in Skamania County, has also benefited with “welcome bags” of toiletries and “move out kits,” containing blankets, sheets, pots and pans and detergent.

Charles has taught cake decorating, and Alma led a class in creating panoramic sugar eggs through Camas Community Education.

Alma was a Girl Scouts leader for seven years, and she was a day camp leader at Camp Currie. That same camp, in Camas, is where Charles sanded picnic tables.

Alma credits her mother, Lois Jemtegaard, for getting her into volunteering. Jemtegaard’s community involvement has included making candies and serving refreshments at the Veterans Administration Hospital, in Vancouver.