The story of Washougal is to a great extent the story of the Bishop family, and more particularly of Charles Kay Bishop who, before his death in 1986 at age 72, was a towering figure in the woolen industry there.
Bishop was a big man, not only in the community but physically. He stood 6 feet 5 inches, weighed 230 and wore size 14 shoes – the dimensions of a man who once played tackle for the University of Oregon.
The Pendleton Woolen Mills story actually began 100 years ago when Bishop’s great-grandfather, Thomas Kay, started his own mill in Salem. His eldest daughter, Fannie, married C.P. Bishop, a retail clothing merchant, and a family dynasty was begun.
The Bishops bought out the struggling Pendleton, Ore., Woolen Mill in 1909. In 1912, the Bishops bought the Washougal Woolen Mill, which had been placed in the hands of a receiver. Charles Bishop became resident manager in 1940, and lived in Washougal 46 years.
Along with overseeing the growth of the local plant, Bishop played a major role in community affairs. He served as chairman of the Washougal School Board for nine years, was second president of the Bank of Washougal and was active in St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, which was founded in his living room in 1951.
To honor his memory, an athletic field next to the woolen mill has been named the Charles Kay Bishop Field.