WENATCHEE — In a time when nonprofits often go in search of help, community volunteer Rudi Pauly is a bright anomaly. After more than 60 years of service, she’s not only a strong advocate for community involvement; her relentless smile and boundless enthusiasm make it sound like fun.
“I always learn something from being on a board; like how the hospital functions or the Literacy Council or museum,” said Pauly, this year’s recipient of the “Spirit of A.Z. Wells” Award given annually by the Central Washington Hospital Foundation.
“You meet new people too. That’s always interesting to me because I like people. It’s such a wonderful way to be part of this vibrant community. Wenatchee is getting better as the years go by. Everybody should be helping this community grow, and grow with it by learning all the different facets that make it so vibrant.”
Pauly played a big role in making this community glow through CREST and Allied Arts. She worked on everything from cleaning up Wenatchee’s once-polluted riverfront to serving on a multitude of boards, including Central Washington Hospital Foundation, the Wenatchee Valley College Foundation, Douglas County Planning Commission, Chelan-Douglas Family Planning, Eastmont School Board, Art on the Avenues and the Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee.
Pauly will be recognized for her community contributions Nov. 14 during the Central Washington Hospital Foundation’s 23rd annual gala presentation of the Spirit of A.Z. Wells Award for Community Service. Tickets are available by calling the foundation office at 665-6030.
Luck certainly played a hand in getting Pauly to Wenatchee. She was born Ruth Caroline Schram in Norfolk, Neb., the youngest of three daughters to John and Frieda Schram, descendants of German immigrant farmers. Her father gave the petite, vivacious Rudi her nickname — a German variation on rootie toot toot.
Rudi’s parents were active in their Lutheran church and always stayed informed. “It’s funny because they were Republicans, and I’m a Democrat now, as are my sisters, but we learned a lot from our parents. They stressed responsibility and voting and paying attention to what was going on, nationally and internationally.”
Her life changed dramatically in 1943, when recruiters from Boeing came to Sioux City looking for men to manage the company’s war-time production lines. Her father had always wanted to move to the West Coast, she said. “They made him an offer with a higher salary and paying for his move. Three months later we were in Seattle.”
When she graduated from Roosevelt High School, Rudi initially enrolled at Seattle University, where she met business major Jim Pauly her very first day. The couple would marry three years later, but not before Rudi transferred to the University of Washington. Her UW roommate was Kay Girard, whose boyfriend and future husband, Norm Hamilton, urged Jim Pauly to move to Wenatchee to work for his family’s business, Hamilton Fruit.
The Pauly family — which would later include sons Mark, Doug and Steve — moved to Wenatchee in 1953.
Rudi mixed her time as a mother, homemaker and hostess with community service. Her inspiration and mentor was Joan VanDivort, who worked avidly to clean up the Columbia River and create parks along the river through a variety of groups, including Allied Arts and the Columbia River environmental Study Team (CREST).
“Basically the riverfront was a dump when we came to Wenatchee. The water had become so polluted from sewage that the first thing we were told was, ‘Don’t ever play around the river.’ There were no sewage treatment plants then in Wenatchee or East Wenatchee, which is hard to believe, but eventually our congressional delegation helped pass a federal funding bill and it was gradually cleaned up.”
Jim Pauly died in 2007, but his work at Northern Fruit Co. made it possible for all three of their sons to stay in the area. Mark manages the 100-acre Chelan Red Orchard near Manson, Doug serves as manager at Northern Fruit and Steve pursued his father’s passion for international marketing by opening his own fruit export business, Pauly Marketing.
Rudi herself isn’t much interested in slowing down. She serves on two boards now — Art on the Avenues and the Performing Arts Center — and gets in as much skiing as she possibly can and her mind is always busy with ideas for more community improvements.
“… Wenatchee is still so young and has so much more potential. … Community involvement is so important. It’s a way to enrich your life and community and feel like you’ve played a part in its enhancement.”
Source: Wenatchee World