– Famous Residents –
Eugene Tennyson McIver
Despite the image of a hearty lumberjack depicted in his monument and various town signage and lore, the few photographs remaining of the indelible town founder show a slim and well-dressed gentleman. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804, Eugene McIver was the second of five children of a well established businessman and his actress wife. After completing his education, McIver pursued his father’s line of business, but couldn’t compete with his own older brother’s success and proceeded to look elsewhere for work, bouncing around several positions in various companies before going off to seek his fortune during the Westward Expansion.
Upon arriving in Oregon, McIver set up in style in an available settlement and was eventually able to start his first lumber yard, which eventually evolved into a lumber company, which then evolved into its own small settlement, the predecessor of Widow’s Perch, McIvertown. For the rest of his life, McIver continued to build upon what he had started and would one day “cut the ribbon” at the official founding of the new town. In 1869, McIver died of typhus during a small outbreak in town and the month of September remains celebrated in his honor. McIver never married or had any known children, though it is said he had a very close companion in a Wasco-Wishram trader. This friendship, however little is known about it, was made into a folklore tale in a local comic book penned by the writer and artist, Bernard Kincaid, in 1955, mostly as a satire of the Lone Ranger television series popular at the time. The comic saw moderate success but never really spread out from the town. He later became a Dorkus Withnail college professor, and the comic fell into obscurity. Five copies are known to still exist, all but the one in Widow’s Perch Heritage Museum in the hands of collectors.
McIver himself is generally written about as being soft-spoken, hard-working and respectful of all his workers, if not sometimes a bit arrogant, clueless about the nature around him, and always willing to take a shortcut.
As a wealthy San Francisco widow in 1899, Dorkus Withnail settled in Widow’s Perch after several years of travel across the Northwest—presumably charmed by its small town atmosphere and its original beautiful landscapes. When not teaching herself to paint the wilderness surrounding Big Blue, widow Withnail spent her time and money avidly funding public works around town and building the town into what it is today. Dorkus Withnail Valley College of Art and Dorkus Withnail Park are both named in her honor.
When adjusting for inflation, Ralph Lyons still has the distinction of being the richest man who has ever called Widow’s Perch home. As one of the early Texan oil barons, Ralph was known as particularly cutthroat and was reportedly involved in multiple extortion schemes, though he never faced trial. After making too many enemies, he fled with his son—and suitcases of money—to Oregon and eventually found himself in Widow’s Perch. At first thoughtful of how he could use the lumber industry for his own gains, Ralph was instead fascinated by the simple and friendly people in town, and in the end, did not return to his old ways. Before his death, he financed a local, strong bank and invested in the construction of the city hall building that still stands in 1987. He never got to see his mansion, the Blue Sky Manor, reach completion. It is still the largest residence in the county.
Taking over his father’s legacy, property, and money at the young age of 32, Mortimer wonder how to best use his family’s remaining cash. Although his father had spent half of it, Mortimer remained the richest man in town, and his father’s investments were beginning to see a return. In the 1920’s, he traveled for a year going up and down the west coast, spending a month alone in Los Angeles, where he became enthralled by the art deco style and the roaring cultural scene. He made several wealthy contacts and brought attention to the possibilities of turning Widow’s Perch into a resort location. Upon his return, he transformed the sleepy valley into a bustling boom town. Briefly. After only a tenth of a grand hotel that rested under Big Blue was built, the Great Depression hit, and every intrigued investor returned to Los Angeles to manage their dwindling finances.
The Lyons Hotel Resort’s frame was left to rot, and Mortimer spent much of his life locked away in his residence, holding out for another chance at leaving his mark on the town. He had two daughters and a son, Kenneth, who would later take his place. Although nothing remains of his hotel, his vision for a renovated downtown came to fruition, and resulted in the modernization of many of its buildings until the city changed again in the 1970’s.
Kenneth Lyons (the current patriarch)
By 1985, Kenneth projected himself as an education advocate, and his careful investments into the county’s schools showed—although they are not felt as much in the overcrowded and woefully outdated middle school sector. The high schools are steadily improving however, and two of the three elementary schools are among the best in the area. A technophile for his age, Kenneth keeps up to date on the newest models to grace the new computer age, and he ensures that all schools have no computers older than three years in their libraries.
Mr. Lyons’ current persona is only the tail end of a long, fascinating life that has already spawned over ten locally written biographies. The few friends that he has left often consider him to be the most interesting person that has ever lived in town. Kenneth left to attend Yale in 1955. Before his father died in 1968, he worked in New York City as a broker on Wall Street, where he had two wives over five years and three children among them. With an empty estate back in Oregon calling him back, he first spent half of his self-made fortunes on a yacht trip around the world, which began in the Hamptons and ended in Key West a year later in 1969, where he arrived just in time to see the moon landing in a resort cabana.
He “settled down,” relatively speaking, by 1970 at Blue Sky Manor and married again for only six months (to socialite Simone “Sparks” Gomez, cousin of the mother of Marceline Gomez), having one son that was born after the divorce (Freddy Lyons). However, he was raised on the grounds, and his mother was allowed to stay in one of the many guest houses. Kenneth married his fourth wife in 1984 and had two daughters with her, and remains in matrimony with her up until at least the year 2000.
Kenneth has become somewhat reclusive, and his reputation is greater than his likelihood of appearing in public. His contributions to the town have all been more “under the hood,” focused on keeping the investments of his lineage in working order, but he has also helped to bring in more of a corporate presence in effort to further modernize and connect the town. Like those who carried the Lyons name before him, his portrait hangs in the city hall and in Dorkus Withnail College.
He still guides the town from afar, up in Blue Sky Manor, at the base of Big Blue Mountain.
Mayor Rachel Dufoe (longest serving mayor in town history)
Often mocked as Mayor Doofus, Mayor Rachel Dufoe has nonetheless led the town of Widow’s Perch for 17 years by 1987. While not a totally incompetent politician, over the years her multiple failed revitalization projects for the area have left their mark on her reputation. At different times she has tried to attract industry and income (outside of lumber) through attempts to make the town an artist’s colony, a commercial hub, a hiking destination, and even a retirement community. Unfortunately for her, the town simply isn’t big enough and is too close to other major Oregon cities, so none of these initiatives carry much success and there is often a mass groan from the citizens of Widow’s Perch at the phrase, “a new revitalization project…”
Clive Yeats Harrow
Little is known about this mysterious town figure outside of his widely spread legend, his name on a 1875 census, and an old photograph that may or may not be of him. While many believe he lives on as a ghost haunting the Widow’s March hiking trail, scholars of the town suggest he was simply a businessman living in the area and working in the lumber industry when he died of tuberculosis in 1875. But that’s not as much fun.