Orcas community celebrates 50 years


Special to the Islands’ Sounder

The Buoy Bay Community celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday, July 18 with a traditional pig roast and potluck.

More than 100 people, including two of the original owners, descendants of most of the original families, two new owners, neighbors and friends gathered for the late afternoon event.

The Buoy Bay Community was started in 1959, when Clifford Viereck, whose family had owned property on Orcas when he was growing up, got together with several other workers at the Puget Sound Pulp and Timber Company to buy 38 acres of ocean view property for $32,500 from F.A. and Cecil Lee Schumaker. Several of the pulp mill families backed out of the deal and were replaced by other families not connected to the mill. Each family had to come up with $3350 for one acre of the land with the rest being shared common area.

Originally called the Orcas Island Join Venture Syndicate, none of the families held a deed to their own property until 1998. Viereck was the only name on the deed until that date. The community held its first pig roast on July 4, 1979, to celebrate the mortgage on the property being paid off and the name being officially changed to Buoy Bay.

At first the families lived in semi-permanent tents with wooden floors, then they all took turns sharing a one room cabin until each family had built their own one room cabin. Today, houses have replaced some of the cabins and some of the cabins have been enlarged, but many of the original cabins remain on the land as guesthouses.

Two of the original owners, Dick and Dorie Kohler and Anne Chudek, are still alive. Decedents of seven of the original families: Chudek, Kohler, Hutchison, Walstrom and Schow, still own land at Buoy Bay.