Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


November 30, 2023

Sheriff Mark Howie and Frieda Footh at recent Senior Lunch. We always appreciate it when elected officials join us. Photo by Karen Bertroch

The holidays can be difficult due to sudden deaths, especially around Christmas. One unexpected death was the recent loss of Dale Dutcher from the Altoona Pillar Rock area, not too far from the end of the road. His wife, Cheryl, called to let me know. I have admired her love and loyalty for him in the years since he began to suffer from dementia, then Alzheimer's.

November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month. One in eight will suffer from Alzheimer's; Dale and Cheryl were but one example in our small area. The reality of a person we have known and loved, who often leaves us mentally due to memory loss, is hard to cope with. Cheryl made the decision, as many of our local wives and husbands have done, to keep Dale with her and care for him at home. It's a burden that takes away from the caregiver's life day after day and often drains much of their own happiness.

The cost for putting a loved one in a care facility can be more than a family can handle. Costs can be as much as $7,000 per month. The person must be kept safe, monitored and dealt with for most of the day. Many people keep their loved one at home as long as possible; the costs of a facility may be prohibitive, and they may not want to have the patient moved away from home. That is what Cheryl Dutcher did. She cared for Dale for several years and waited a long time before she moved him to a care facility. Caregiving is a challenge, but in Dale's case, he kept his sweet disposition.

I mourn the loss of this man for many reasons. I enjoyed knowing him as a fellow sailor.

When I moved here, he and Cheryl gave me their cat, Squiggy, a sweet tuxedo who didn't fare too well with their dog. Squiggy lived with me for many years and died from old age. I have always been grateful to the Dutchers for giving me that sweet cat. Dale always asked me how she was doing when he saw me. He was a gentle, loving, man I will miss.

Cheryl has been a fine example of a committed caregiver, loving her husband right to the end. I hope we all offer help and assistance to the caregivers in our neighborhoods. They need it.

The Finnish American Folk Festival has lined up a full schedule of Christmas events. This list includes them all, I hope. December 2: Bazaar at the Naselle Community Center from 9 am to 2 pm. Santa will be present for photos from 9 am to noon. On December 3, a Christmas concert will be held at the Deep River Church at 1:30 pm with the following artists bringing music for us: Carl Wirkkala, Kim Angelis from Naselle, then the Skamokawa Swamp Opera, then Greg Parke (one of my very favorites), from Skamokawa.

The traditional Soup Supper will be at the Community Center from 3 to 5 p.m. and at 5 p.m., a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and sing-a-long will be held in the Community Center's parking lot. Hot chocolate and cookies will be available. On Dec. 17, there will be a Christmas parade at 4:30 p.m. along Knappton Road in Naselle. For those in the parade, meet at Haleigh See's house to line up for the parade at 3:00 p.m. Get more information and register at:

Another fun event over the holidays will be an alumni basketball game on Dec. 23. Let Marie know if you'd like to register. What fun for all ages! It will be hosted by the Girls Basketball Team. Marie is at: 360-355-7106 or at

Also, please note that the December School Board meeting will be held at the Grays

River Fire Hall on Hull Road just off SR4 at 6:30 p.m. This is a great time to come meet the new

School Board officers who will be voted in at that meeting.

Calendar of Events

Mondays/Wednesdays: Balance Class Naselle Community Center 2-3 p.m.

Second Monday: American Legion at Rosburg Hall, meal at 6 p.m. Meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesdays: Naselle Lutheran Church: quilters in morning/ knitters in afternoons.

Third Tuesday: Naselle/GRV School Board 6:30. p.m. Dec. meeting will be in Grays River Fire Hall.

Wednesdays: AA meeting Grays River Grange at noon.

Second Wednesday of the month: Grays River Flood Control District at Fire Hall 5:30 p.m.

First and third Wednesdays in Dec: Senior Lunch at Rosburg Hall. On Dec. 6 and 20.

Thursdays every week: CAP senior lunches at noon at Rosburg Hall. Joel Fitts recommends it.

Second Thursday: Johnson Park Board meeting at 10.

December 2: FAFF Christmas Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors contact Soup Supper will be at the Community Center from 3-5 p.m., then a christmas tree lighting and sing-a-long will be held in the parking lot.

December 2: West End Artists' Show (Ervest, Fitts, Wahlstrom, Prucha) at Grays River Grange

1-4 p.m. with their watercolors and paintings for sale.

December 3: FAFF Christmas program at Deep River Church at 1:30 p.m., soup supper at Naselle

Community Center from 3-5 p.m., then tree lighting at parking lot, 5 p.m.

December 17: Lighted Christmas Parade at 4:30 p.m. along Knappton Road in Naselle.

December 27: Alumni Basketball Game at high school gym.

January 17: County conservation meeting. Dan Cothren, chair. 2 p.m. at Courthouse, 3rd floor.

Words for the Week: It's not the presents that mean so much, it's the love behind them.


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