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Honoring the Past: Beulah Richards, a pillar in developing Camp Whispering Winds

Honoring the Past: Beulah Richards, a pillar for the development of Camp Whispering Winds

March 15, 1917 - Oct. 9, 2007

Beulah was born in a rustic cabin in Puyallup, Washington on March 15, 1917 to Henry Joseph Thorpe and Mary Parthena Reed Thorpe during the family's several year sojourn from Ohio.

In 1933 at the age of 16, Beulah graduated from high school as class valedictorian. She went on to attend business school in Akron, Ohio and upon graduation, went to work in the Akron office of Pittsburgh Plate Glass in the wholesale division.

During World War II, she started corresponding with a soldier named Clyde Richards, who was born and raised in the same part of Ohio. In 1944 Beulah received a letter from her brother's wife Elinor, asking if she would consider writing back to Clyde who had been in the South Pacific for more than 10 months. Beulah agreed, and so in July of 1944 from "Somewhere in the Pacific" (that is all you could write without it being censored), Clyde wrote to Beulah and a fine mutual correspondence followed.

Clyde was wounded in combat while near the Philippines and was shipped to Colorado Springs, Colorado for further treatment, rehabilitation and convalescence. Beulah and her mother traveled to Colorado where Clyde and Beulah were married on November 3, 1945. Beulah and her mother then traveled to Corvallis, Oregon to get Clyde's house ready for his arrival and on November 22, Clyde was discharged from the army, making it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Clyde and Beulah lived in the house that Clyde and his father had built in 1939, just northwest of the university. During their married life, they remained in Corvallis and had two children, Alan and Mark. Clyde was employed as a motion picture projectionist at local theaters and Beulah was a homemaker who took an active part as a volunteer in her community.

One of Beulah’s proudest achievements was her leadership in procurement and development of the Girl Scout Camp Whispering Winds, near Kings Valley. She was active in this and other Girl Scout efforts for more than 40 years.

Beulah first registered as a Girl Scout in 1948 as an assistant leader of Corvallis Brownie Troop #1, subsequently serving in many capacities, including Troop Leader and later various kinds of publicity work for Benton County Girl Scouts.

In 1954, she became District Chairwoman for Benton County. She served two terms as second Vice President of the Council while assisting as Cub Scout Den Mother for her sons. She then served two terms as member-at-large and two terms as first Vice President.

She was a member of the building and development committee for Camp Whispering Winds and assumed the Chair for that body in 1960, continuing for the next 13 years.

In September of 1976, Beulah and Clyde began in the position of full-time Caretaker at Camp Whispering Winds. During this time, they completed a thorough study, documentation of the various systems there – electrical, septic, and water, including well location, usage and level statistics.

Part of the documentation was also created with a section on swimming pool procedures, which had to be maintained at the beginning of summer camping season and again at the end. Most important in Beulah’s view, were the instructions on weatherization and procedures for maintenance of the camp. They kept an hourly log of the work accomplished and then turned in monthly summaries to the camp committee so they could plan for upcoming needs like materials and services. Beulah and Clyde participated in others' lives in the community and it paid dividends for the welfare of the camp in time of emergencies.

After retiring from Girl Scouts, Beulah continued as an advisor for camp maintenance as requested and always took pleasure in seeing the camp used and enjoyed by Girl Scouts. In 1988, Beulah researched, compiled and published two documents, affectionately known as her greatest works: History of the Development of Camp Whispering Winds and History of the Santiam Girl Scout Council.

Beulah moved in January 2000 from her home, in which she had lived independently, gardening and working for her favorite causes (First United Methodist Church, Santiam Girl Scout Council, Benton County Literacy Council), to a retirement home.

In October 2007, Beulah passed away quietly in Corvallis. Her parents, two siblings and her husband, Clyde Griffith Richards (who died in 1991), preceded her in death.

Biographical sketch for Beulah Thorpe Richards
provided by her son, Mark J. Richards, February 2016