In the fall of 1963, Billie Smith and her husband Willie agreed to take square dance lessons offered by the Beachcombers in Port Orford. Their neighbors Albert and Ollie Britton had been after them for 3 years and they finally relented to to just to get them off their backs. After graduation the next spring, the Smiths became members of the club that would become the social center of their lives until Willie's death in 1997. Billie continues today giving of her time and resoures as necessary to insure the club and activity prosper.
During the past half century plus, she has served as club president, vice president, secretary, treasure, and publicity reporter. She has represented the Beachcombers on the South Coast Council Executive Board and helped plan and put on three successful Summer Festivals on the South Coast of Oregon (1965, 1973, 1993). But Billie's behind the scenes work is really what sets her apart. From baking 30 loaves of bread for a cold cut sandwich dinner to mowing the extensive grounds around the dance hall, Billie has been the driving force and the one constant presence with the Beachcombers. She still serves up the coffee and buys supplies for the club's popular fundraiser pancake breakfasts. As club treasurer she holds a tight rein on funds and makes sure the bills get paid and deposits made.
The club built the dance hall on Nicholson Drive where the club has danced since 1959. During that time many repairs, paint jobs and roof coatings have taken place. Billie has been high up on the roof many times (most recent in 2013 at age 83!), mop in hand, directing others to get it done right. She has worn out at least three riding lawn mowers getting the grass cut before RVs moved in for the big weekend festivals. Grass grows "thick and quick" in all that winter rain! South Coast weather is tough on paint jobs too and Billie has spent a lot of time with a paint brush in her hand. When membership and attendance fell, Willie and Billie paid the taxes on the building to make sure the dancers kept dancing. When callers quit or moved along, they called and called until they found one willing to make the drive to teach lessons or call a dance, many times paying the caller out of their own pocket.
But through it all the continued to love to dance with their friends and promote dancing to people they felt would enhance the activity and enable it to grow. Billie believed in providing a good atmosphere and lots and lots of good food. Her cinnamon rolls were the main draw at many a dance, meeting or festival. Her costume dance and parade outfits were never to be missed. From Daisy May to Dolly Parton, Billie always provided laughs for all in attendance.
She has instilled her love of dancing and service to your club in her two daughters and their husbands as well as two granddaughters. She's still working on her son and other grandchildren.
Ray and Zola were both born in Eugene, Oregon and raised in the same rural community west of Eugene, and so are native "webfoots".
They first learned to square dance while stationed in the US Air Force at Laredo, Texas, on the Rio Grande River and border of Mexico in 1972. The name of the club located on the base was the "Rio Ramblers", and they got to square dance in a bull ring in the Mexican town just across the river, this earning a "Bull Ring" badge and an "International" badge for dancing in two separate countries in one evening!
In 1980, after retiring from 20 plus years in the Air Force and moving home to Eugene, they joined the "River Road Mixers" square and round dance club. In 1981 they were asked to be on the Mid-Winter Festival Committee, and have served on the committee continuously for 34 years, including as Festival Chairman in 1988. The Mixers club disbanded in 1986, so in 1987 they joined the Whirl-A-Ways and remain active to this day.
Raymond was president of the Emerald Empire Council in 1985, 1986, and 1992. He was chairman of the area's annual benefit dance in 1986. In 1992-93, Zola was the State Reporter for the Oregon State Federation. In 1991 to 1994, they served on the Oregon Trail Board as Program Chairman for Oregon's 1994 National Square Dance Convention held in Portland. Ray retired from his current occupation in 1997 and he and Zola began traveling in their motorhome, including every winter, February to May, to Southern Arizona, dancing in Yuma with the many Oregon dancers who winter there, and also dancing in Mesa and Tucson. In 2001, they had the honor of being appointed Oregon Goodwill Ambassadors and served in this position for 5 years, taking Oregon square, round, and clog dancing information wherever they traveled. They also served again on the program committee for the Oregon National Square Dance Convention in 2005. From 2009 to 2012 Zola served as State Historian for the Oregon State Federation, and Raymond served as State Federation President in 2011-2012 from being elected First Vice President in 2010. Also in 2012 Zola was elected by the Emerald Empire Area Council as Area Delegate to the State Federation, a position they currently serve in.
They have held offices in their club, and Zola has been the club OFN Reporter and club delegate to the council for several years, and they also help with the council's activities. They continue to attend and help with the Whirl-A-Ways club activities, and always support their club and council.
They have thoroughly enjoyed over the years dancing in the different areas of Oregon by way of festival visitations, State Federation meetings, and special dance weekends, and seeing towns they might not have been to before, and always the best part meeting other dancers and sharing this great activity we're all involved in.
As founding and charter members of the Willamette Squares in Salem, Nancy and Brice Baker have been quiet, strong, dependable leaders of the club for over 20 years. They always assist or lead in the recruitment of new dancers, especially as lesson coordinators for club square and round dance lessons for the last six years. They are always first to the dance hall to open for lessons every week from September through May or June. They always actively, smilingly encourage new square dancers, including their own children and grandchildren, who took up square dancing through their support.
The Bakers are vice presidents of Willamette Squares and have been for as long as anyone can remember. In this non-glory job -- not sought by others but welcomed by Nancy and Brice -- they purchase and keep stock of all club supplies and decorations, manage kitchen duty assignments and activities, and greet dancers at every Willamette Squares dance and lessons. Brice is also the club photographer.
The Baker's reliability and consistency attending all club meetings, club dances, visitations, and demo dances, as well as serving on committees and taking on other club responsibilities as needed, is greatly appreciated by all club members. Their love for the club is evident. They are the "glue" that holds this small club together. They are virtually always the first to arrive at the dance hall for Willamette Squares dances to help set up, decorate, and provide food and snacks for the dancers. Often, half of the table decorations and at least a third of the food is provided by them. The annual Thanksgiving Holiday Dinner Dance is always chaired by Nancy and Brice (18 years now!). They coordinate the food for the feast and bring turkey, ham, side dishes and dessert. It would not be the great spread that it is without their help and contributions.
In addition to constructing a 14-foot May Pole, with twelve streaming ribbons, for our annual May Pole Dance, Brice made sturdy, all-weather sandwich board signs to sit on the sidewalk outside the dance hall to advertise our dances. Really, the things the Bakers do to help the club to survive, to run smoothly, and to make our dances enjoyable and memorable are all activities that also promote Square Dancing for all. They have been quietly and steadfastly doing all of this for 40 years for Willamette Squares and other clubs, such as Maplewood Squares (founding members) and Capital Eights.
Steve & Valerie began their dancing career in 1970 when they joined the Spindrifters Square Dance Club and the Salinas Lariat Swingers Folk Dance Club, both in Salinas, CA. The Lariat Swingers was an exhibition club that did International Folk Dancing all over CA. The Murphys were the babies of the club since they were the only dancers under 50. From there they took a break until 2005 when they returned to square and round dancing in Oregon. While members of the Klamath Country Squares they held offices of President (Steve) and Secretary (Valerie). Also, Valerie was President of the Interstate Highlanders Council and Steve was delegate to the Federation for four years. In 2009 they were appointed Goodwill Ambassadors by the outgoing Federation President. Although they served out their 5 year term in 2014 they still promote square and round dancing by attending an average of 1-2 festivals per month. The Murphys are members of the Rogue Squares in Medford and The Charlie Browns in Grants Pass. They have taught ballroom dancing through the Klamath Community College system and Steve cues and choreographs round dances. They spend their winters in Mesa, AZ which is the Round Dance capital of the world.
In 1971 Kathy's father paid for lessons for Dale and Kathy. They graduated in 1972 but after returning to the Army that same year they didn't have lots of chances to dance. During those years, they lived in Tacoma, WA; El Paso, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Alexandria, VA; Los Angeles, CA; Mon, Belgium; Ypsilanti, MI; Washington, DC; and Heidelberg, Germany. Dancing opportunities were few and far between, consequently they forgot most of the moves until retirement in 1992.
While in Michigan, Washington, DC and Germany, both were involved in Boy Scouts of America. Kathy served as Den Leader, Assistant Scoutmaster, Assistant District Training Commissioner, member of the Order of the Arrow, and served on the Woodbadge staff many times in Germany and Oregon. Dale served as Cubmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, Scoutmaster, District Training Commissioner, member of the Order of the Arrow, and served on the Woodbadge staff numerous times in Germany and Oregon. Both have been awarded the Silver Beaver and are still active with the area Cub Scout day camp program.
In September 1992, they took lessons again with the Hayshaker Square Dance Club in the Astoria/Seaside area. Since that time, Dale has been president 6 years and is currently serving his 7th term as secretary. For the Sunset Area, he served as club delegate for 2 years and Recording Secretary for 2 years. At the state level, Dale served as Sunset Area Council delegate for 3 years, was elected 2nd Vice President, 1st Vice President, before moving to the President's chair last September.
Kathy is currently serving as Hayshakers club president, an office she has held for a total of 10 years. She has also served as vice president and member-at-large. She sserved as president of the council for 3 years, treasurer for 5 years, and club delegate for 4 years. She is currently the club delegate to the TVC. At the state level, Kathy served as Sunset Area delegate for 3 years, and is the current TVC delegate. They served as Oregon's delegates to USDA for 7 years.
In 2004, the Hayshakers put on the Oregon Summer Festival. In 2005, they chaired the Lewis & Clark Caravan Encampment in Astoria before the 54th National Square Dance Convention. They served on the Vendor Hospitality Committee at the 2012 National Convention. They have co-chaired the Seaside Sashay for 15 years. In January 2015, they received the TVC Outstanding Recognition Award. They advertise and recruit new dancers and have been involved in parades and dancing. They set up and run many dances for holidays and annual club picnics. Visiting clubs appreciate them setting up beach dances when they visit.
Dorothy and Garret have held many club offices, including club president. Dorothy served as Vice-Chairman of Vendor Booths for the 54th National Square Dance Convention in 2005.