Remembering Dick Haynes
My first real boss was Dick Haynes.
I worked at Maxi Mart department store after school and weekends as a receptionist, answering phones and typing correspondence. I remember typing a letter from Dick to President Jimmy Carter, and wondering if the president would really read it, or respond.
One thing I knew, even then, was that many other people did pay attention to Dick Haynes. He had built the farm store Farmterials into a successful retail business and then developed the adjacent Maxi Mart department store. To boost summer sales and bring visitors in to Baker, he started a July mining competition and street dance in the Maxi Mart parking lot that became Miners Jubilee.
Let’s face it, over the course of 50-plus years in business, there have been a lot of us in Baker that have worked for Dick Haynes. Even more people here owe their jobs to him.
Before there was a publicly paid economic developer in Baker, Dick and other business people recruited Marvin Wood Products to Baker, to be sited on property Dick owned near Maxi Mart Center. When it looked as though CP National Corporation was going to get out of the rural electric utility business in Eastern Oregon, Dick, along with Peggi and Glenn Timm, formed Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative to assure continuous, member-owned electric service to Baker County. When I came back to Baker in the early 1990s, Dick was running a real estate business, Northwest Properties, and had developed the Northwest Trading Post near the train tracks off 10th Street.
Dick had a passion for Baker, and for development. He didn’t need a grant or feasibility study to move on his economic development projects. If he thought it was a good idea, he went after it, and put his money and his mouth where it would bring results. He wasn’t what I’d call political, despite having held elected office as a city councilor. He didn’t schmooze, or crave approval. Dick called it like he saw it, and you could agree or disagree with him, but if he wanted it done, he was going to work to make it happen.
Dick through his own giving often helped to move things along. When the county needed tourism marketing in the 1980s, he convinced the newspaper to make a recreation guide, and bought enough advertising to make it work financially. The Baker Christian Church on Highway 7 sits on land Dick and his wife Marge donated to make sure that a new church facility was built. The new YMCA facility in the old Wilson’s Market will be possible because of Dick and Marge. He was a long-standing member of Rotary, and volunteered his time at the Senior Center and at the 1A basketball tournaments among other volunteer projects. He wasn’t stingy with his time, or his assets.
Dick always picked up his newspaper at the office, just as they were coming in from the van. (He couldn’t wait for it to be delivered to his house.) When he had to wait for the papers to be unloaded, he’d park in a chair in my office to talk fishing. Oh, sometimes fishing meandered into his opinion of current events or the newspaper, and we’d either agree or disagree about whether to fish or cut bait on those things.
For all of the projects and plans Dick had caught and reeled in over the years, those waiting-for-the-paper conversations weren’t spent rehashing the glory days, but sharing the enjoyment of the simplest pleasures of Baker County: clear lakes, warm days and a line in the water.
I can’t imagine him resting in peace — Dick Haynes was always on the move. But for those of us who live — and work — in Baker County, we are better off because of him.
Kari Borgen is publisher of the Baker City Herald.