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Cedar Mill News
Volume 4, Issue 6


June 2006

Sue Conger leaves a community legacy

By Peter Leonard, Executive Director, Cedar Mill Community Library

Sue, at left, pitches in at the 1999 Books 'n' Bloomers fundraising sale for the library. Also pictured are Dorothy Bolger and Bev Cathcart

On May 15, our community lost an amazing woman. Sue Conger was one of the early forces behind the establishment of the library and served on the library board twice over a 25 year period. She was one of the founders of Miscellaneous Etcetera Super Sale (MESS) and later the Second Edition Resale Shop. Sue was instrumental in preserving the old Cedar Mill Post Office (JQA Young House) which will soon be restored by the Parks District. When Sue saw a need or a problem she didn’t just offer advice, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work.

She used her interior design training to draw up plans and designs for every library renovation and often negotiated with vendors for the best possible deals. During the library’s most recent renovation, she selected furniture, carpeting and sketched different layouts. Whenever we had a space or design problem in the library or in the resale shop, Sue would be able to miraculously come up with a solution. It’s easy to design with an unlimited budget. Sue always looked at ways to reuse older products and furniture. It’s amazing what new upholstery and paint can do to make an older piece look new. She also knew that investing in quality was better than purchasing on price alone. The library’s carpets were a higher grade than most businesses would install but Sue knew they would wear better.

There were few library events or parties where Sue’s skillful touch with entertaining wasn’t evident. And after the parties, after all the guests departed, Sue would take the dishes and glassware home to wash. Sue often hosted parties at her home to honor her fellow volunteers at Second Edition. These were festive events that were eagerly anticipated by all the guests. No matter how busy Sue was with hosting a large group of 50 or 60 people, she always had time to stop and visit and enjoy the event. She made everything look easy.

Sue lived a life full of community service while raising a family and working. The library and the community are fortunate that she shared her gift of making our community a better place.

Sue arranges flowers for the wedding reception for Jan Johnson's son at the Octagonal Barn of the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, one of her favorite places.

From an interview with Jan Johnson, long-time friend and library supporter

Jan first met Sue walking down her street passing out flyers to gather support for the founding of a community library. The original idea was to locate it in a vacant storefront that used to sit at the northeast corner of Cornell and 107th. But then Odus Bales stepped in to offer space in the Milltowner shopping center across from the drugstore (which had been the original Bales Thriftway). Jan and her husband Jim have served on the library Board several times.

Jan was an ally with Sue in stopping a development up the street, and from time to time they would gather a group to “traipse out to the County to fight” something they determined to be detrimental to the community.

Jan mentioned that she realized at Sue’s Celebration of Life, that, “she knew people we didn’t know she knew. She had a far-reaching influence in the community.” Jan continued, “She was a wonderful hostess, who made it look easy. Her kids teased her that she was like Martha Stewart, and called her “Mom-tha.” She really knew how to do a lot of things.”

Jan recalls, “A few years back, Sue & I did flowers for the funeral of a Second Edition volunteer. We asked that the library and shop volunteers & staff bring something from their yards. There were buckets of water in the workroom of the 2nd Edition to accommodate this. Sue did fabulous arrangements. Flower artistry was one of her many, many skills."

"Sue asked that the same be done for her. So the day before her service, floral & greenery donations were brought to the 2nd Edition by library staff and volunteers. That evening, 10 of us gathered at my house to arrange flowers. We did 28 arrangements, large and small, of mixed spring flowers. They were all taken to her Celebration of Life the next day. Many people brought vases of homegrown flowers to the Celebration. Sue would have loved that since she was such a great gardener herself."

"It was a very therapeutic experience to arrange these flowers for Sue. Sue was a bright light for all of us.”

By Bill Hagerup, Community activist

I first met Sue in 1994 because of an exchange student from South Africa. Gillian stayed with our family for 3 months, then spent the next 3 months with the Congers. I’m glad we hosted her first, because living with the Congers would have been a hard act to follow! Sue invited my wife and I over to visit while Gillian was staying with her. She and her family filled that big, old, beautiful house off of Cornell with a warmth that is hard to describe: everyone eating, drinking, laughing, enjoying each other’s company in a way that you knew was genuine and not just for show. Although we had only met once or twice before, she made us feel like we were old friends who came over all the time. At the memorial service for Sue I heard the same story over and over: how Sue welcomed everyone around her into her extended family and made them feel at home.

Later, I served under Sue when she chaired two Parks Department advisory committees, first for Cedar Mill parks and trails, and later for the JQA Young house. There I saw a different side of this many-faceted person; more business-like and intent on accomplishing our goals, but still open, honest, warm, and never phony. I will truly miss Sue Conger.

By Virginia Bruce, Editor, Cedar Mill News

Sue's sketch of what the JQA Young House will look like after restoration

The very first time I got involved in local community activities, I met Sue Conger. I had agreed to serve on a Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD) committee to make recommendations about parks in this section of the district. Sue was the Chair of the committee. Before long, she had connected me to Peter Leonard, the Director of the library, which resulted in the renovation of the library website and the creation of the Cedar Mill site ( In addition, she told me about the Cedar Mill History book and sparked my interest in our pioneer past.
This was one of the themes of her life – connecting people to help make things happen. She believed in the synergy of groups and committees. She knew that people working together can improve things.

She helped start the Cedar Mill Community Library, and ensured its success by pitching in for tasks from serving on the Board of Directors to raising funds. She pulled a group of people together to design, fund and build a pedestrian pathway along Cornell Road. She saved our historical centerpiece, the John Quincy Adams Young (JQAY) house through her determination duringthe long years of negotiation with the church, which owned the property, to the sale to THPRD.

I was privileged to serve with her on the THPRD committee to determine the future of the JQAY house. In addition to her leadership, she brought her design skills to the project by helping to meticulously measure and document the house and then draw up floor plans and an accurate sketch of the building in its present state.

To help assure completion of the JQAY project, Sue asked that remembrances be sent to the Tualatin Hills Park Foundation for its restoration. To date, nearly $1500 has come in! Donations can be sent to 15707 SW Walker Rd., Beaverton, OR 97006. Call Susan Bender-Phelps at 503-629-6300 for more information.



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Published monthly by Cedar Mill Advertising & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229