‘Mr. Issaquah’ leaves rich heritage to ‘his’ town


Andy Wold

Oct. 11, 1972

Issaquah was his town and a bit of it has gone on with him.

As a young boy, some of Andy Wold’s playmates were the Indian hop-picker’s children, for he was born here in a two-story farmhouse of split cedar and shakes which stood just south of old highway 10, on the west bank of Squak creek. The year was 1885. The area was then called Squak for it was still seven years before the town’s name would be changed to Gilman.

When Andy was born, Lars Wold, his dad, was already well in his 50’s and a very successful homesteading farmer, skilled logger and self-disciplined, forthright citizen. The farm, its operation, financial records and hired helpers were all a part of Andy’s early upbringing and training.

His early schooling took place in the old Squak School which was the 4th school district formed in the state of Washington. This was only a short distance, west in the valley, for him to walk. But he had to cross several creeks and boggy areas, scale fences and pass the Indian village where the hop-pickers lived. He always remained good friends with the Indians so that their big, ferocious dogs would not chase him as he passed.

He spoke their trade language: “Chinook,” having learned it from his father and the Indians. At a very early age he was given the responsibility of recording the hop-pickers production for each day and distributing to them the tickets, one for each basket of hops, by which they were later paid. These daily dealings sharpened his skill in communication and his memory for this language remained brightly in his mind. Even recently he was helpful in correcting the spelling of a few Chinook words, which I had used.

Andy’s ability at numbers, accounting and financial records was developed further in a Seattle business college and later put to use in the King County Auditors office. He worked there quite a few years during his young manhood, gaining experience in the business world.

But Issaquah was his love and his home and he returned here first to manage the Grange store and then to purchase the E.J. Anderson Hardware, Lumber and Feed Store in 1923. He later disposed of the feed division and operated the hardware department as an affiliate of the Marshall-Wells Company. But during those early days he handled carload lots of grains and staples and built into both businesses a paying volume. He treated people fairly, with a righteous respectfulness and received like treatment in return. An unusual circumstance found Andy’s hardware store located on a portion of one of his father’s earlier preemption claims, at the N.E. corner of Front and Mill Streets. As his business grew, he built on five or six stores, which are now known as the Andrew Wold Building.

It was here in 1950, in his hardware store, that we, as newcomers, first recognized the steadfast friend that was to become so much a part of our lives within the next two decades. At first, while we purchased materials for our new home and asked advice about skilled people, he was “Mr. Wold.” But by 1960, when our friendship had expanded from daily semi-professional house-building help to relaxed evenings and weekends spent in historical research, we found it easy and very natural to fall in line by calling this sincerely helpful neighbor-“Andy.”

And “Andy” he has been to so many, always seeing the positive, the bright and the good side of people and circumstances. His forward looking, eagerly-searching mind never missed reading both Seattle Dailies and he quoted very factually the memory-keyed material. To my knowledge he never “couldn’t remember where he read it.” He was always able to find it in short order.

Andy and Lee Hepler had, since those early business-developing years of the 1920’s, been the best of friends. For more than 50 years they had been business men, and Masonic brothers together, forwarding the endeavors of both-and found a great deal of the fulfillment and enjoyment which is the reward for living a constructive and well-directed life. Both had suffered miseries and heartbreak and their parallel experiences drew them even closer.

Andy devoted days and months of footwork and many hours of thought and planning to such basic interests in his life as the Myrtle Lodge No. 108, of which he had been a member for over 50 years. His degree of involvement had led him to become a Shriner. For many years he never missed their Thursday lunch in Seattle nor the Myrtle Lodge’s regular local meetings.

Another big effort on Andy’s part had been on behalf of our library, of which he was a board president for 10 years. The present building, even though it is now outgrown, was the foresighted, total-push project which Andy practically accomplished single-handedly. He arranged the myriad details of acquiring, moving, installing and redesigning the building-to say nothing of raising the necessary funds also. The devotion and directness of purpose in Andy’s manner was the key to his successes.

Throughout all, he remained calm, able to find a solution to each toe-stumbling and to muster the technique of convincing those less optimistic to proceed side by side with him.

He even found time to dig into the old lssaquah “Press” issues of years ago when in 1962 he wrote a weekly column for the Centennial.

As the retirement from the demands of a well-stocked store descended upon Andy, his many “tinkering talents” came to the fore. And they were all well grounded. His early farm life had placed in him an appreciation of growing things, from hop-plants to roses, from sumac to maple. The lovely gem of a home which he and Bernice moved into in 1959, after their Hawaiian honeymoon, is a blooming, colorful tribute to Andy’s ability to plant and raise a variety of growing things.

Even the day before his hip-breaking tumble, he was proudly picking a bouquet of roses for a visitor when I stopped by.

The look on his face told of a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Among his rose bushes he had preserved the “Casto” Rose-a cutting raised from a pink climber which was brought to Issaquah in 1864 by the Casto family, all of whom were the victims in an Indian massacre. It was his love of being among the growing plants, of cleaning up and trimming, which found him on the creek bank when he tripped and fell last Thursday.

And his comfortable easy chair was always placed so that he could, even on cold and wet days, survey his yard from two directions while he calmly let his battery recharge.

Andy Wold had been an absent, but enthusiastic supporter of the recent History preservation effort in Issaquah. But mainly because the group met at night and he did not drive that time of day.

But he had contributed in every way possible, by material donations, good advice and sound answers to our questions. He was one of the few second generation historical resources we had. The society will miss his guidance.

Andy — “Mr. Issaquah” — the welcomer of progress-the slight man with the quick step and the bright greeting, who never told you of his troubles, or complained, has left us with many warm, solid memories, and so much encouragement, that we should all eagerly look for the good and the positive in the future just as he did.