The story of the oregon old time fiddlers association

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When Bill knocked on the door of THE GOLD FIDDLE ROOM on January 25th, the OLD TIMER who keeps the keys to the Gold Fiddle Room asked, “What do you have with you, Bill?”

Bill replied, “just my fiddle and golf socks, you know, the pair with a hole-in-one.

We miss you here on Earth Bill, but we know you are happy up there with the fiddlers. Tell them to keep practicing because there are a lot more fiddlers who will be coming along to join you, and then some, (one) of these days.


EDITORS NOTE: Oh, Boy! Will this be fun! This is a new experience for me and with your help and co-operation I think it will be an exciting experience and a lot of fun. Thank you Evelyn Walter for a very big job well done for the number of years you have been MRS. HOEDOWNER. Lois Tucker


Thought for the Month: “A good fiddler is one with the ability to play first fiddle and a willingness to play second.”


June 1979


Jr. Jr. Division Seniors Intermediate Open

1. Scott Ranes Al Swigert LeRoy Sims Loretta Brank

2. Grant Wheeler Leonard Maahs Penny Mead John Melnichuk

3. Tiffany Wheeler Herman Classen Gene Lowe Nancy Berg

4. Mike Dukart Robert Hawes Steve Bennett Bill Warwick

5. Teresa Drew Van Southwood Paul Stark Jim Hoots

6. Steven Dukart Jonas Cox Ralph Dias Vern Keithly

7. Shauleen Higgins Willard Noble Bob Fast Don Hanson

Juniors Accompanists

1. Jess Cooper Jim Hoots

2. Pat Fitzgerald Eldon Powell

3. Raymond Deaton Penny Mead


July 1979

WEISER RESULTS (Oregon Contestants)


1. Carol Ann Wheeler 2. Jim Hoots 2. Jess Cooper 4. Bonnie Griffen



September 1979

SYMPATHIES. . . . Donald Leith past president of the OOTFA was stricken with a heart attack February 1st and passed away Feb. 12th. Mrs. Leith wishes to extend her “thanks” to all those that extended their sympathies to her, especially to Willis “Shorty” Allen and Leonard Maahs who played twin fiddles for his funeral. . . . . We were told at the Canyonville Contest that George Jenkerson passed away the previous Monday.

ON THE MENDING SIDE: Irven Johnson from Klamath Falls had heart surgery and is doing fine. He wishes to thank everyone for cards, visits, flowers and prayers for his recovery.
CONGRATULATIONS CAROL ANN WHEELER NATIONAL LADIES CHAMPION. A big special thanks to Carol Ann for acting as hostess and coordinating events on top of her already heavy load. Les Tucker


Casual report of Executive Board meeting at Myrtle Creek, July 15, 1979:

1. The Board is recommending that boundaries between District 4 and District 5 be changed, so that Douglas County will be in District 5 in place of District 4. This action was initiated by the people of District 4 and agreeable to District 5, mostly because of geography and distance. This will be brought on the floor and voted on at the annual meeting.

January 1980

District 3: District 3 held their first Old Time Fiddlers, Get Acquainted, Jam session December 2, 1979. It was held at the Senior citizens Center, on fifth St, in Bend. . . . Don Hanson, Chairman, announced that jam sessions will continue to be held at the Senior Citizens Center on the first Sunday of each month. Karen Stenkamp, reporter


February 1980


1. . . . . districts indicate majority want 5 judges for contest . . . .

2. . . . . majority reporting back prefer fall Convention instead of March

3. . . . . recommended striking the number or word EIGHT to read “the State will be divided into Districts.”

EDITOR’S THOT: “Two things are bad for the heart – running up stairs and running down people.”


April 1980

District 3: Sunday, March 2nd, our “first Sunday of the month” meeting/jam session was held at the Senior Citizens Center in Bend. Even though we are small in number, everyone who comes to perform, participate or just listen, seems to enjoy it a lot. This time was special for us; 1) we learned that if all of those in our district who were members last year continue – plus our new members, we can be considered an “official” district.


June 1980

Oregon State Contest Results:

Jr. Jrs Juniors Open

1. Grant Wheeler Jess Cooper John Melnichuk

2. Bronnie Griffin Joey McKenzie Nancy Berg

3. Scott Ranes Pat Fitzgerald Bill Warwick

4. Tiffany Wheeler Teresa Drew Carol Ann Wheeler

5. George Rau Kyra Smith LeRoy Sims

6. Shauleen Higgins Wayne Holmes

7. Floyd Beck

Intermediates Seniors Accompanists

1. Dave Moffett Barney Alexander June Secor

2. Bob Fast Mura Collins David Boyd

3. Penny Mead Leonard Maahs Joey McKenzie

4. Kathy Eads Walt Langlitz

5. Gene Lowe Van Southwood

6. Carol Larson Frank Williams

7. Chris Reed Herman Classen


August 1980

New list of officers: State level

Les Tucker, President David Boyd, Vice –president Etta Powell, Sec/Treas.

District 1

John Lewis, Chairman Clyde Lynch, Co-chairman Dennis Tucker, Sec/Treas

District 3

Don Hanson, Chairman Harley Nimmo, Co-Chairman Iris Buckle, Sec/Treas

District 4

Dusty Yancy, Chairman Sam Stelle, Co-chairman Vi Brown, Sec/Treas

District 5 Guy Kinman Co-chairman (North)

Roy Zeigler, Chairman Al Lively, Co-chairman Barbara McLeod, Sec/Treas

District 6

Jerry Kinnaman, Chairman Don Loring, Co-chairman Adella Stewart, Sec/Treas

District 7

Rusty Knight, Chairman Robert Strelow, Co-chairman Helen Hakanson, Sec/Treas

District 8

Minnie Bennett, Chairman Dave Robinson, Co-chairman Joyce Crump, Sec/Treas


December 1980

District 3: Little Tony Spatz “4 year old” entertained us on his fiddle.

. . . . and a comment from the results of the Canyonville contest, “Little Tony Spatz stole the show, I do believe. He is only 4 years old. Tony you are going to be some fiddler when you grow up!”



May 1981

District 7: The April jam at Astoria was a great one--plenty of musicians to give a good show. We had a large, enthusiastic audience to play to. Thanks go for a lot of effort in arranging this jam to Lyle and Chris Reed. Helen Hakanson, Reporting


June 1981

Oregon State Contest Winners

Junior Juniors Juniors Seniors Intermediate

1. Grant Wheeler Joey McKenzie Leonard Maahs Bob Fast

2. Tiffany Wheeler Scott Ranes Walter Langwlitz Gene Lowe

3. George Rau Pat Fitzgerald Edwin Hjelseth Kathy Eades

4. Brian Hanson Kyra Smith Barney Alexander Penny Mead

5. Shauleen Higgins Kym Gloy Fred Hildebrandt Chris Reed

6. Vawn Smith Brad Hall Audrey Reynolds Ron Windsor

7. Steve Lundgren Herman Classen Lee Jones

Open Accompanists

1. John Melnichuk June Secor

2. Carol Ann Wheeler Joe Ross

3. Bill Yohey Dave Boyd

4. Dave Moffitt

5. Ray Krogstad

6. LeRoy Sims

7. Don Hanson


July 1981

District 1: We all want to give Zelma and Walter Foote a big “thank you” for having us over Saturday night for the use of their yard for camping. Betty Bruneau reporter


September 1981

District 3: Don and Ruth Loring visited us from Albany; Fred Virtue, District 5 from Coquille, Fred Hardin, District 8 from Salem.



January 1982
Agenda for annual business meeting: SHOW: In order to expedite the show and cut down confusion we will allow no amplified instruments on stage. . . .


February 1982


Cliff Buker

1893 - 1982

We surely will miss Cliff as he was the founder of the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife, Bessie and family. Cliff passed away on the 18th January and Funeral service the 21st. Cliff and Bessie celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary and he would have been 89 years young in March.


District 1: Our district is growing in the North East (From K. F.) and I am going to refer to it as 1East, so we may keep our areas straight in reporting. I am referring to Burns area. Jerry Ruddock of District 1 has appointed Rusty Knight as Co-chairman of that area. Rusty has set a jam session for February 14th at the Senior Citizens Center for the first jam. Potluck will be at noon and doors open to the public at 1 PM. Rusty didn’t say and I forgot to ask him about bringing your own table service, but for now I would suggest that you should. Congratulations Rusty for the hard work you have put in getting this together and have lots of fun. Lois (Tucker) for Rusty

Dorthy Houston’s note: We have the use of the Convention Hall on Thursday night before the Convention. It will be open from 7:00 PM for informal jamming for members who come a day early. District 1E: Our Valentines jam was a great success. There were about 150 people for the show. Special thanks goes to Homer and Rosalee McLain from Lakeview, Jerry and Irene Ruddock from Klamath Falls and Bill Noble from Bonanza for helping with the show.

Susie Smith and Ruel Teague of Burns were instrumental in making our first show a success. Fiddlers were Susie Smith, Lance Barker, Homer McLain, Bill Noble, Irene Ruddock, Jerry Ruddock, Rusty Knight, Ruel Teague and a bunch of Duntens from Drewsey – Dall and Turen who was accompanied by his son Alfred Dunten.

Our next jam is March 14 at the Senior Center in Burns. We will be having them the second Sunday of each month. Joan Knight, reporter.


So long, Cliff Buker!

Loved husband, father, grandfather and friend!

We miss you!

Your kindly ways, your deep concern, the hours you’d spend,

With the rest of us.

So long, Old Friend!

On top of the hill, where you dwelled so long,

We looked up to you!

The lingering charm of your music and song,

Will stay with us.
So long for a while!

A silver stringed band with golden harps,

Have welcomed you!

While memories sweet stay warm in our hearts,

Of all of us.
So long, Loved Friend!

We miss you!

By Minnie Bennett


June 1982

Oregon State Contest Winners May 15th, 1982


  1. Tiffany Wheeler Heather Bennett Eddie Johnson

  2. George Rau Grant Wheeler Edwin Hjelseth

  3. Jennifer Huckins Scott Ranes Barney Alexander

  4. Andy Emert Lisa McMasters Chet Haven

  5. Michael Williams Dan Emert Leonard Maahs

  6. Brian Hanson Kim Gloy Shorty Allen

  7. Vawn Smith Sheri West Van Southwood

CHAMPION Hollis Taylor

Last page of Hoedowner missing.


July 1982

Facts and figures from the new president: (Bill Yohey) My second time around as President finds me with great desire to continue to make this organization one of the very best of all the fiddling associations. Oregon State Old Time Fiddlers is looked up to by many other fiddling groups.

Don Gish, Edna Yohey and Evelyn Walter were responsible for dividing Oregon into the present boundaries of our districts. That idea proved to be the most successful in running the jam sessions and other State business.

In the years of 1982 and 1983, it could be a possibility through an appointed committee to form new districts. Our membership in some districts is getting quite large. This will be discussed at the July or August Board Director’s meeting.

Larry Modrell Garibaldi, Oregon conducted the first official meeting of the Oregon fiddlers. This took place at Jimmy Miller’s home in Hillsboro, Oregon. Cliff Buker was elected President, Harold Allen Vice President and yours truly Secretary-Treasurer. Of the original charter members, six are now in fiddler’s heaven. We will soon be entering our 20th year as an association. Ray Mack was the first State Champion. Lee Jones is the new editor of the Hoedowner. . . . Our loss in revenue for awarding lifetime membership to 100 members on the roster is around $1200 a year.

. . . . we especially thank Lois Tucker for the service and fine job done as State Editor, we’ll miss you Lois.


July 29, 1982 Quarterly Meeting Scio Grange Hall Maxine Benson secretary

. . . . A new idea was introduced by Bill Yohey about locating property for a Northern Camp-out such as the one at Williams. This was – is one of the benefits of our dues. There was a favorable discussion and it was suggested a committee be appointed in future to work on this.

Reflecting in 1999 – Penny Mead tells me that Bill Yohey asked her to find a place for a northern campout for the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers. During a conversation with Carol Anne Wheeler’s father, Bob Ledbetter, he mentioned that a group of ham radio operators had gathered recently at Harold Maiken’s place out of Vernonia and that he would recommend it for a campout.

It was a great place for the fiddlers to camp – except for the first year. For years the story was told about the rain that trapped the motor homes and trailers. Many bogged down in the mud and had to be pulled out. It was difficult to live this brief rain storm down but the years that followed produced many fine campouts. Lew Holt, editor.


August 1982

Just a note about dancing by Leonard Maahs, Vice-president

Dancing is a source of fun and also good exercise and can be enjoyed by both young and old. It brings friends and neighbors together for a few hours of relaxation away from the problems of the world.. . . . They not only came from the surrounding area, but from Portland, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Beaverton, Salem and the Coast Area. So, if you are longing for nice clean fun and healthy exercise, try a little dancing to live music. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we enjoy playing for you.


Fiddler of the month

Hollis Taylor

-- Oregon State Champion 1982

Hollis Taylor is a native Oregonian, growing up mostly in West Linn, Ore., but also living in Grants pass, Coquille, Portland and Cottage Grove. She began to study the piano at age six, and at nine added the violin. She learned from her Grandmother, Stella Cox, who taught violin and piano in Ontario, Oregon for over fifty years. Mrs. Cox is now 100 years old and lives in Oregon City. She no longer plays her violin, but still plays the piano beautifully. Her eyesight started to fail in her late 70s so she taught Hollis by ear, but also made sure she learned to read music.

Hollis was raised to love all kinds of music – her father’s favorite is Hank Williams – but she never heard any real fiddling until 1980 when she lived briefly in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She went to the Teton County Fiddle Contest where the judges were Junior Daugherty, Shelley Clark, and Bill Long. She bought one of each of their albums. Dick Barrett won the contest, and Joe Sites was runner-up. Hollis was excited about the high quality of playing of the judges and contestants. Also, Shelley Clark had a radio program in Jackson every evening and she played a lot of Kenny Baker, Byron Berline, and Bobby Hicks intermixed with country and western music. Hollis had never heard anything like what these people did on the fiddle. She became hooked on listening, but still could not play fiddle tunes like she wanted.

About six months later, back in Oregon, she met Helen Hakanson who invited her to her first jam. She met Penny and Ed Mead. She heard something special in Penny’s playing. She and Penny started playing together one night a week, and Penny showed her a lot about the “old-timey” sound. They became close friends as they felt the same way about music – that what’s important is not how fast you move your fingers and your bow, but the special qualities and subtleties that make music a personal expression that touches others.

Ending this with a quote, Hollis says, “Penny and June Secor accompanied me at the State Contest this year, and although I won, I still do not think of myself as a contest player. I am excited by all the beautiful tunes, and all the clever tunes, and have so much I want to learn. I hate to start mentioning names for fear of leaving someone out, but I love listening to all the champions we have here in Oregon. They all bring a part of themselves to this wonderful old-time music.”


District 5 reports: Fiddlers in District 5 have been on the go playing at a variety of different places and events. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders at Hillcrest Elementary School in North Bend, have a better understanding of and appreciation for old time fiddling after Les McLeod played for each grade level – along with Al and Betty Lively and Murrel Walton as back up. The attitude of the young people was expressed when the fiddlers played at an open house each day for a week at the Coos County Historical Museum in North Bend recently. On two occasions, young boys were heard to say, “Hey, that’s the fiddler we heard at school – let’s go hear him again!” And, “That’s the fellow that everybody liked so much.” Lew Holt, reporter (and just happened to be principal of Hillcrest.)

National Contest at Weiser – Oregon’s winners:

Jr-Jr 1 -- Tiffany Wheeler Junior; 4 -- Heather Bennett; Senior 5 -- Ray Krogstad; Men’s 4 -- Joey McKenzie; Adults Certified Contest, Best Dressed Lady -- Carol Ann Wheeler


September 1982

President’s message: After finally finding the Grange Hall at Scio, Oregon, board of directors meeting was held on July 31, followed by a nice show which was MC’d by Dave Robinson. Here are some of the highlights of the meeting:

  1. The forming of another district in Eastern Oregon. At this writing, Rusty Knight of Burns has signed enough members to legally form another district in that area. Boundaries will be affixed and the district legally established at the next state meeting.

  2. A proposal to have another campout in the Northern section of the state was discussed.
  3. There was a discussion in favor of changing the by-laws regarding the presence of both Chairman and Co-chairman at Board of Directors meetings.

District 1E reports: District 1E now has enough members to become a district. At last count we had 33 members and plan to keep recruiting. At our August 8th Jam we held elections Those elected were: Chairman - Rusty Knight, Co-Chairman - Ruel Teague, Sec-Treas - Pat Scott, Reporter - Joan Knight (President’s note) Above officers will be as acting officers until such time as the district is formally established. Joan Knight, reporter

District 4 reports: Notes from the Talent, Oregon Jam Session held Aug. 15th include welcoming back Hugh Samples who was recently hospitalized.. . . . Six year old Tony Spatz from Alfalfa, Oregon (near Bend) won the hearts of all the old timers. Dorothy Cory and Bill Chaney from Fort Dix, Calif. Were also visitors.

Our fiddler, 13 year old Sheri West of Central point was recently featured in the Medford Mail Tribune. Tommy Grissom plays guitar for her and she is making quite a name for herself already. She recently won third place in Carson City. She is hoping for Grand Ole Opry in Nashville or Hee Haw. Keep up the good work, Sheri. . . . We’re all rooting for you . . . . Patricia Wheeler - reporter.

District 5: The only bad part of the month was on the 10th when Murrel and Daveda Walton lost their motor home in which they lived. Murrel lost his fine 12 string guitar, his fiddle, his mandolin, and all of those things that come about over the years of marriage and the raising of a family. Lew Holt – reporter


October 1982

District 1: Members of District 1 are a busy bunch most of the time with their own affairs and the fiddle business, too. There are small groups fiddling at cafes, nursing homes, retirement homes and at their own homes, whenever the fancy strikes. We have the same fine people all over the state as we find when attending the campouts and fairs. It’s wonderful to meet and visit with other fiddlers and musicians, as Irven and I have found out from going to the campout at Warwicks. It’s a most fun time when we play with all kinds of fiddlers and sit and eat with them I personally get so fond of all of them that it’s like leaving your family when we depart. I especially enjoyed playing with Sheri West, she definitely is on her way to the big time, somewhere. It’s a joy to listen and watch little ones like John and Eileen Melnichuk’s smallest one, and little Tony Spatz!! And the fellowship is just grand at the evening get-togethers. Thank you again, Red and Martha and God bless you both. Anne Johnson - reporter.

District 5: I must add a note of tragedy. Carl and Minnie Dean were in a bad automobile accident yesterday (Sep. 19). I visited Minnie this afternoon for a few minutes. We had a brief but fine conversation. I was unable to visit Carl, and was told that he was in intensive care. His condition is serious. We don’t know yet what this means. Our hearts go out to Carl and Minnie.

P.S. (Received by telephone, Sept. 24th) Since writing and mailing my report, I was able to visit Carl in the hospital and he was able to sit up and was playing a little on his mandolin. So looks as if he is going to be OK.

District 4: Our condolences to the family of our Fiddler, Ivan C Shuck. His sudden passing has stunned us all! An avid musician, Ivan played in several local bands . . . . Ivan loved to play jigs and fast numbers. He was always so friendly and full of encouragement to others. Patricia Wheeler - reporter

Canyonville contest: (It is difficult to pass by the Canyonville Contest results in the old Hoedowners because the results show who some of the active “contest fiddlers” were in “those days.” There are names of many who are no longer active - names that we should not forget.)

Jr.- Jr. Intermediate Junior

  1. Tiffany Wheeler Gene Lowe Grant Wheeler

  2. Natalie Ohle Susan Smith Sheri West

  3. Andy Emert Rob Hakanson Jim Braskett

  4. Tony Spatz Bob Crump Danny Emert

  5. Sue Hill Les Tucker Mike McMullan

Open Senior Judges

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