The Camas-Washougal area means different things to different people, but for the 2019 Camas Days Royal King and Queen, Chuck and Barbara Carpenter, it’s all about finding their perfect spot.
“We moved here 19 years ago, and there never has been a day we regretted that decision,” said Barbara. “Chuck and I both moved a lot in our childhoods. In fact, the longest either of us had ever lived in one place before moving to Washougal was five years.”
“We put down roots,” Chuck said of the couple’s move to Washougal in 2000.
“We don’t feel like we could have put down roots any place better,” Barbara added.
The Carpenters have tended those roots and grown an entire community garden.
“We know so many wonderful people in our community,” Barbara said. “We just feel like we’re able to do something for our community here that we wouldn’t have been able to in another area … and giving back to the community is just huge.”
The Camas Days King and Queen, who will be crowned during a coronation event on July 17, ride in the Camas Days Parade on July 27 and attend a Senior Royalty Luncheon immediately following the parade, are modest when it comes to shining the light on themselves.
“We’re following in the footsteps of some wonderful people,” Barbara said of former Senior Royalty recipients. “It’s really amazing that we have been selected.”
Of course, while the Carpenters downplay their contributions, both Chuck and Barbara have volunteered countless hours over the past 19 years to improve and give back to their chosen hometown.
Chuck, a former music teacher, attorney, elementary school principal, school superintendent and school district personnel director (including for the Camas and Washougal school districts), has served on a variety of commissions and boards in the Washougal area. His current passions include the Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance, the Washougal Business Association and the steering committee for the performing arts and culture center on the Washougal waterfront, but he has served on the Washougal Parks Commission, the Elected Officials Salary Commission, chaired the Washougal Citizens Government Advisory Committee and Washougal Festival of Trees and served on the city’s Roundabout Design Committee. In 2018, the city of Washougal awarded Chuck with the Community Leadership Award.
Chuck said he envisions downtown Washougal becoming the focal point and centerpiece of the city and would love to see a continuation of the city’s focus on arts and small businesses in the downtown core.
Noting that the couple devotes most of their time to Washougal but will actually be the “Camas” Days king and queen, Chuck and Barbara said they think the Washougal-Camas rivalry is a friendly one and actually drives people from both cities to do things for their communities.
“We go into Camas often and appreciate the shops. And we love the Liberty Theatre,” Barbara said. “We really feel that there are a couple of seats at the Liberty that should have our names on them, we go there so often.”
In the nomination letter sent to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Camas-Washougal, which selects the annual Camas Days Senior Royalty Court, a community member said the Carpenters’ commitment to volunteer work was impressive.
“When a list of volunteer commitments is as lengthy and long-standing as theirs, you know the work is sincere and enjoyed,” the letter stated. “They bring passion and excellence to each of their roles and are making a difference in the lives of many.”
Like her husband, Barbara, a retired corporate administrative assistant, believes in getting involved in her community and giving back.
Barbara has volunteered with the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society and currently loves devoting two days a week to the Meals on Wheels People program at the Washougal Senior Center.
“It’s how I begin my week, every Monday,” Barbara said of her volunteer cooking shift for the Meals on Wheels People, which serves seniors at the senior center and also send food out to housebound community members.
“I’ve met the most wonderful people preparing and serving meals,” Barbara said. “I love to cook and think that’s a way to share your concern for your fellow community members. Giving them one of the basics of life — food — is a way of sharing concern and love. … I’ll tell you, many of the people there come in for the food. For some it may be their main meal of the day. But most also come for companionship. I’ve been volunteering there for about nine or 10 months, but I will be doing it as long as I’m physically able. It makes me feel so good to start my week that way.”
Both of the Carpenters are members of the Washougal Lions Club and belong to the Artists Repertory Theater Support Guild and Third Rail Repertory Theater supporters.
“I was a music teacher in my misspent youth and we are involved in a lot of the arts,” Chuck said. “We go to a lot of plays and symphonies. Arts are important to any community.”
The Carpenters have three daughters, six grandchildren and two great-grandsons, and all but one — a grandson in Tennessee — live in Oregon. The whole family gets together every three months to celebrate birthdays and spend quality time together.
“When we moved here in 2000, we wanted to be in Washington for many reasons. Washougal was affordable back then and we had friends here who expounded on the virtues of the town, and we could be close to our daughters and grandchildren,” Chuck said.
“I can’t imagine we could have been happier living anywhere else,” Barbara said. “And I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
The Carpenters will be crowned king and queen of the 2019 Camas Days celebration at 7 p.m., Wednesday, July 17, at Columbia Ridge Senior Living, 2300 W. Ninth St., Washougal. Tickets for the dessert reception cost $5 per person at the door.
There will be a Senior Royalty Luncheon celebrating the Carpenters and past Camas Days Senior Royal Court members immediately following the Camas Days Parade on Saturday, July 27, at Zion Lutheran Social Hall, at Northeast Third Avenue and Northeast Garfield Street in Camas. Tickets for the luncheon cost $7 per person and are free for former Royal Court members.
Camas Days, an annual two-day celebration in downtown Camas, will celebrate its 45th anniversary July 26-27. Look for a special 2019 Camas Days preview section in the Post-Record on Thursday, July 25.
RSVP for either or both events by calling Susan Bennett, with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Camas-Washougal, at 916-330-7932.