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Cliff and Wanda Bauer fell in love, blended their families and have made their mark in South Columbia County

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Wanda and Cliff Bauer stand outside their Scappoose home behind Bauer Square, home to local businesses like Ichabods Restaurant.Though they grew up a few miles apart, Cliff and Wanda Bauer didn't connect until later in life.

Both Wanda and Cliff were delivered by the same doctor, Dr. L.G. (Levi Gilbert) Ross: Wanda Hansen in 1937, Cliff Bauer in 1932.

Wanda has lived her whole life in Scappoose, while Cliff was born in St. Helens but spent time outside Columbia County, eventually moving back to Scappoose and buying into an insurance company in 1965.COURTESY PHOTO - Cliff Bauer, who went by Bob when he grew up in St. Helens, in a high school graduation photo from 1950.

The couple are two of the three grand marshals for the upcoming Scappoose Centennial.

The two married in 1975, a few years after Wanda began working for Cliff's insurance company, Bauer Insurance, after her husband Gae Allison died. Wanda was a widow and mother of two school-age children; Cliff was a divorced father of three teenagers.

Through the Congregational Church, the two got to know each other.

"Her family needed a dad, and we needed a mom," Cliff Bauer said. "We joined forces."

Wanda was born on the old Erickson Dairy on Fullerton Road and attended Scappoose schools.

Cliff moved around frequently as a child, attending around a dozen schools around the Portland area. He served in the Navy after high school and then attended Oregon State College (now Oregon State University), graduating in 1958. He worked in the insurance industry in Portland, Eugene and Medford for seven years before returning to Scappoose.

Over the years, both Cliff and Wanda Bauer have been involved in a number of community groups. COURTESY PHOTO - Wanda Hansen in her high school graduation photo in 1955.

Wanda was involved with the Jaycees, or junior chamber. Cliff served on various city committees and the Scappoose Boosters board. Both worked on the Scappoose Pow-Wows, which were an annual summer occurrence for more than four decades starting in 1960.

In a 1970 painting by Doris Burdick, who ran the Burds restaurant, Cliff Bauer sits around a table with Wendell Hill, his partner at the insurance agency; Fred Rabinski, a logger out of Dutch Canyon; Roy VanCleave; and Floyd Anderson. The five were frequent customers at Burds. On the wall behind them is a portrait of Mayor Stubby Sanders.

"Doris didn't like him because she thought he was two-faced, so she painted one side of his face dark, and the other side light," Cliff Bauer said.

Wanda was superintendent of the church's Sunday school, while Cliff served on the board of trustees.PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Cliff Bauer holds up a painting that shows him and friends at a restaurant they frequented years ago.

"In the early years of our marriage, it was the church, because of the kids," Cliff Bauer said of the couple's main social activities throughout nearly 50 years together.

"After we got the five kids in the corral and educated them and fed them, that took up most of our time," Wanda Bauer said.

In the early 1970s, Cliff purchased the property that they now call Bauer Square, which houses Ichabod's restaurant, the Road Runner gas station and other businesses. At the time, the property was home to the Hein Cabins, a collection rental cabins; a house; and a gravel pit.

Years earlier, when the state widened the highway through Scappoose, the highway department purchased gravel from the owners of the property. Forty years later, when more work was done on the highway, the state returned the gravel to the Bauers' property. The highway department "borrowed it, in a sense," Cliff said.

The corner of the Bauers' triangle-shaped property furthest from the highway was where the gravel pit was created, and it's where their house is seated today.

"One of the reasons that we put the house back here was because this was a gravel pit, and all the kids were coming back here and smoking pot. So I screwed up their life and decided to move the house back here — to be, you know, a mall cop in a way," Cliff Bauer quipped.

Once the house was in place, the hooligans pelted the side of the Bauers' home with rocks, causing significant damage. But, in a true silver lining, the county assessor didn't arrive until after the damage was done. The damaged siding earned the home a low appraisal value, which ultimately saved the Bauers plenty of money on property taxes.

"So I really benefited in a way," Cliff Bauer laughed, "but I didn't say nothing to nobody."

Once their five children were independent adults, the Bauers were able to pursue more hobbies.

"As we've gotten older we've tried to enjoy the fruits of our labor and travel more," her husband added.

Wanda Bauer "has been a real studious advocate of genealogy and ancestry for many, many years," Cliff Bauer said. Cliff has supported her passion for genealogy, including visiting historic cemeteries on a year-long road trip, in part "because she supported me all those years. She was home cleaning all the gutters, and taking care of the kids" while Cliff was out sailing the ocean.

Cliff began sailing in the 1980s, primarily in a 36-foot steel cutter boat. Wanda joined in for sailing trips around Honolulu, where they kept their boat, but opted out of the trips to the South Pacific.

The two both got certified as scuba divers and ham radio operators, but only Wanda qualified for the General classification. Cliff remained at the lower Technician classification for years and needed Wanda around when he used the ham radio, until the standards were lowered and he qualified for General. "During those years my ego was greatly lowered and humility increased immensely," Cliff said.

On one trip, Cliff Bauer and a friend left Honolulu and sailed more than 1,000 miles to Fanning Island, part of Kiribati, and then to Palmyra Atoll, an uninhabited island. Both men developed staph infections. Bauer's friend managed to get help from researchers visiting Palmyra and flew back to Honolulu, but Bauer was on his own.

"So I just checked my pumps, condition of the sails, rigging, and I just took off from there and went North. And 17 days later I arrived in Honolulu," he said.

Unfriendly currents, a week without wind, and an engine that broke down and started pouring carbon monoxide into the cabin all compounded to slow Bauer down. As he sailed back toward Honolulu, he ran out of the medication he was taking for the staph infection, and it began to spread.

Eventually, the wind picked up.

"I was on my knees. My feet were swollen, I couldn't walk on them. But I had good wind and I got to the bottom of the Big Island. It was just like heaven," he said.

The experience didn't stop Bauer from getting back on the boat, or change the way he sailed, "but it sure gave my soul a belief that there is a God."

Now in their 80s, neither Wanda nor Cliff Bauer felt compelled to give younger generations much advice on how to live their lives.

"Times change, I guess," Wanda Bauer said.

But both spoke to the importance of commitment.

"In one word: steadfastness, in your spiritual life, dedicating to the other fella," Cliff Bauer said. "It's just being a good citizen and following the 10 Commandments."

As a parent, the most important thing is following through on your word, Wanda Bauer said. "When you're raising kids, if you say you're going to do something, do it."

"I think there's a perennial growth that takes place," Cliff Bauer said. "Every generation says 'this generation is going to hell in a handbasket,'" but that's not the case, he said.

Negative things get more press, Cliff Bauer said. "My folks always said 'never get your name in the newspaper,'" he added — ignoring his parents' advice by speaking with the Spotlight's reporter.

The kids who don't get their name in the paper are the ones who keep a society chugging along, who "basically maintain the buoyancy of our nation," Cliff Bauer said.

"She's the buoyancy," he added, gesturing to Wanda.

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