Barbara J. Sudar traces her Longview roots to the creation of the town’s jewel, Lake Sacajawea.
Her father, Fred T. Askay, moved to Longview in the 1920s as a laborer, working with others to transform what was once a fetid slough into Lake Sacajawea.
“Now it’s one of the most beautiful spots of this town,” said Sudar, 84.
Sudar’s father worked in Longview during the week and traveled to Vancouver on weekends to visit relatives and do laundry. He helped build some of the first homes off of Nichols Boulevard, which Long-Bell Lumber Co. provided to employees. The lake formed a physical divider between the managers and workers, Sudar said.
“It was quite noticeable. There was the rich and there was the poor,” she said.
Her father eventually moved to Longview in about 1936 and married. The town was growing.
“People could find work in Longview,” she said. Later, her parents purchased a home on 30th Avenue for $3,000, which was big money back then, Sudar said. She lived there with her two sisters, Beverley and Betty Jo, for most of her childhood.
Sudar recalled how the town practiced drills in case of a Japanese air attack during World War II.
“The sirens would blast and we would duck under the table, which was the heaviest cover in our house,” Sudar said.
Sugar, gasoline and leather were rationed. People would place cardboard on the bottom of their worn-out shoes, she said.
Sudar spent hours playing with her next door neighbor, Sharon Berge. The two would walk to and from Columbia Valley Gardens School together before sidewalks were built.
While in middle school, Sudar met her future husband, Bill, who at the time was more occupied with teasing girls than dating them, she said. The two became friends in high school, where Bill was a star defensive football player for R.A. Long.
After graduating in 1950, Sudar attended one year of Lower Columbia College. She never returned to college because she was hired as an office worker at Longview Fibre Co.’s box plant. In 1955, Barbara and Bill married, and she would temporarily quit Longview Fibre when she was pregnant with her first child.
Eventually, Sudar would become a part-time office worker again for Longview Fibre, covering for employees who were sick or on vacation. The flexibility of the schedule allowed her to spend time with her three children, Teresa, Micheal and Martin. Bill also worked at Longview Fibre, retiring a foreman in the shipping department in 1990.
Retirement freed Bill’s time to devote to one of his life dream’s, raising cattle and building a pole barn on Stella Road. He did this in spite of battling Parkinson’s disease. Sudar became his primary caregiver. Later she would become volunteer facilitator for a support group for families of people with Parkinson’s Disease, a group she stills runs today.
And in a “total irony” Sudar said she, too, was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Because of the variations Parkinson’s can take, Sudar still doesn’t know how the disease will affect her health, other than her existing balance troubles.
After Bill’s death, his body was donated to Oregon Health & Sciences University, where he became the “first patient” of many medical students, she said.
“Bill was always a helper. As long as he could, he would always help anybody out,” Sudar said.
Longview, she says, is full of memories of their time together.
“Longview was just a good family place to live.”