Washougal computer guru was ‘a true professional’

David Lamb, who died in June, remembered for strong work ethic, passion for technology

As a co-owner and head software technician of Washougal’s Silver Star Computers and Solutions, David Lamb spent his days working on computers.

Then he’d go home, and in his free time he’d … work on computers.

“In the evening we would watch some news, because he loved to stay on top of things,” said Susie Graves, Lamb’s partner of 19 years. “But other than that he’d be on his computer doing something for somebody – looking up this, studying that, whatever he needed to do. We’d be sitting in the living room and he had his laptop on his lap and he’d be listening to the television and plugging away. That was his life.”

Lamb, a longtime Washougal resident who died June 29 at the age of 55, was good at what he did, partly because of his single-minded devotion to his craft.

“He was definitely a workaholic, almost to a fault,” said Graves, who came to Silver Star Computers and Solutions with Lamb in 2014 as the store’s business manager. “We’d get home from work and I wanted to relax and he’d talk business. But I admire the fact that he was smart enough to know that, ‘You have to work. You have to earn money.’ He had those ethics, and he didn’t put up with anything less than that. He was driven.”

Lamb was born in Pocatello, Idaho, and moved with his family to Camas when he was a teenager. His family owned and operated Camas-based Home Bakery, where he worked for several years. It was around that time that he began to acquire an interest in technology.

“Back in the mid-1970s, people weren’t running personal computers like the computers we have here now,” said Ken Huckaby, co-owner of Silver Star Computers and Solutions. “David wanted to keep track of his inventory, who he was ordering from, and the billing and stuff like that, so he learned the Commodore 64 and how to program it, and just went from there. By the time he was ready to quit the bakery he was pretty knowledgeable about how to work a computer.”

Lamb, who held informational technology jobs for Stream International in Portland and SafeTech in Vancouver before coming to Silver Star Computers, got to know Huckaby as a customer before becoming an employee, then a co-owner.

“David just wanted to help the community,” Graves said. “He had the knowledge, and the community needed it. Not only is there nobody around here to be able to help with any of that kind of stuff, but the local businesses cannot afford an IT person on staff. He had a big impact on the community just because of the help that he could give.”

NorthLake Church in Camas was one of the organizations that employed Lamb’s services.

“David was a true professional with a caring attitude,” said Nancy Flook, a former assistant at the church. “He was very accommodating to our entire organization and to me when I needed help with my personal laptop. David will be truly missed for his knowledge of technology and his friendship.”

Over the years Huckaby gained an appreciation of Lamb’s enthusiasm and deft customer service skills.

“He was always here every morning before me and was the last one out of here,” Huckaby said. “Dave always jumped right in there, figuring out what the problem was. If somebody came through the door and said, ‘My computer’s not turning on,’ he’d say, ‘Let’s see why it’s not turning on,’ and he’d figure out why. David had the ability to calm (down angry customers), and by the time they were going out the door they were happy. And (he was) honest with them, too.”

“We truly want return business, and you only get that by taking care of your customers,” Lamb told the Post-Record during a 2018 interview. “I would like to think we do that.”

Graves said Lamb’s passion for technology stemmed from the simple fact that it “made sense to him.”

“He just got it,” she said. “He’d pull radios apart, figure out how they’d work, all this stuff. He tinkered with electronics and liked it. He was very smart. I admired a lot of that in him, too. But here’s the funny thing – he never graduated from high school. He dropped out his junior year (to work) in the bakery.”

Lamb and Graves had a large, blended family.

“He and his ex had six kids. I had one. Then she had another from someone else, but we were all one family,” Graves said. “By the time you add all the daughter-in-laws, son-in-laws, we ended up with 10 kids and nine grandchildren. They’re all here. Madison, my daughter, is the one that’s furthest away and she’s in Vancouver. It’s incredible. You should see birthday parties.”

Lamb’s absence has created a period of uncertainty at Silver Star Computers and Solutions, which has three employees — Graves, Huckaby and Lamb’s son, Brian.

Huckaby and Graves have decided to put the Washougal business, located at 1022 “E” St., up for sale.

“We’re kind of up in the air at this point,” Graves said. “I can’t afford to work here anymore. Ken can’t do it on his own, and I don’t have the (computer) knowledge. He can’t afford to buy me out and I can’t buy him out. We might have to liquidate, but we’re really crossing our fingers for someone to come in and say, ‘Yeah, I want to take over this business.'”

Huckaby said many customers are locals who don’t want to drive to Portland for their computer-repair needs.

“It’s been hard,” Huckaby said. “People come in here and say, ‘What I’m going to do now?’ and we don’t have an answer for that. We’re hoping it remains a computer store because there’s nothing out this way.”