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Don Poe was born in Pomeroy, Washington in 1935, his parents’ only child. The family moved to Clarkston in 1940 so he attended all 12 years in the Clarkston school system and fondly remembers the 13th Street neighborhood gang of kids he grew up with. Don’s mother, Mary Rice, was a school teacher in Pomeroy and met her husband, Ernie Poe there, who was in construction. Ernie and his brother bought a sand pit in Clarkston in 1940 at 16th and Chestnut and operated that for several years as well as doing small construction jobs. In 1953, Ernie bought into a paving business with George Knapp. They paid $37,000 for the company.

Joanne Kube was born in Grangeville, Idaho in 1935 to Harry and Violet Kube, and grew up on a farm between Grangeville and Cottonwood where she went to school for seven years. It was small, all 12 grades in one building, because at that time, Cottonwood was 99 percent Catholic and Catholics had their own schools. When Joanne was old enough, she dressed chickens and molded the churned butter the family produced to sell in Grangeville: 20 cents for a pound of butter, and 40 cents for a chicken. Milking in the summer was gradually added to her chores.
Joanne’s family was Lutheran and Joanne remembers with gratitude her loving Sunday School teachers. For three years, she spent school-year Saturdays going to confirmation classes, studying Lutheran catechism and the history of Martin Luther.

In 1948, Joanne, her brother, and parents moved to Clarkston because of her father’s poor health, to a new house at 10th and Bridge Street. The family then owned and operated several restaurants. She started the 8th grade in the old junior high on 13th and Sycamore and remembers that the hallways seemed endless at first, but made friends quickly, and was glad for the move. She and Don knew each other at that time, but each thought the other was “stuck up.”  

All during school, Don played sports and participated in all of them in high school. He lettered in track and baseball as a sophomore, then in football, basketball and track as a  senior while he was student body president. That was also the year he and Joanne started dating. At Whitman College in Walla Walla, he majored in physical education and minored in English and continued to play basketball and run track. Joanne went to WSU for a year, then they married before Don’s junior year and Joanne began working at the Corps of Engineers office in Walla Walla. In his senior year, Don opted out of playing Whitman basketball to assist as a coach for football and coach J.V. basketball at St. Patrick’s High School (now DeSales). Through high school and college summers, Don worked for his dad.
His first job after graduation was in Waldport, Oregon, where the high school had 186 students in their four year program. He coached football and track, and was an assistant in basketball. The salary was $3800 for teaching three  upper-level  English  classes  and  three  biology  classes plus an extra $750 for coaching. Teaching English grammar  especially was a real challenge since English classes at Whitman were literature, not grammar.  Fortunately, the freshman and sophomore English teacher had a bit of grammar training and he became, and still is, a good friend and mentor.

Don went to the University of Oregon for his Master’s in Physical Education, then the family moved to the Dallas, Oregon, where he taught high school health and physical education and coached as an assistant in basketball and baseball. At that point, they had three young daughters and their son was on the way.  In 1961, he and Joanne moved back to Clarkston to join his father in the Lewiston-based paving business.  As Don remarked, building a company was still coaching, because a boss needs to create a team of workers pursuing quality workmanship.

     Ernie, after eight years with the same partner, thought Don would be more compatible with the partner than he was. It wasn’t working, so Ernie bought out the partner in 1962. The family enjoyed building the small firm with eight employees and not much equipment into a fairly decent sized company. The first year of Don’s employ, the business produced 4500 tons of asphalt (about one day’s production now), diesel cost 19 cents a gallon, and the total payroll including Don’s salary was $45,000.

Upon their return to Clarkston, the Poes joined the Presbyterian Church when George Hendrick was returning to serve his second call. He gave a sermon on stewardship and after hearing that, Don and Joanne decided to tithe one-tenth of their earnings to the church. At the time, it amounted to about $50 a month, which seemed like a lot of money. But the family knew it had received many blessings and the company also   enjoyed some success. As Don put it: “Was that a coincidence?”

Both Don and Joanne have served on Session, Don  several times with each of the pastors called since the 1960s. Joanne has been a Deacon, served on the decorating committee, and has provided flowers for the sanctuary for many years. When their kids were in school, both were active in youth groups and also in Young Life when Gary Parsons was leading. The church family nurtured their children in the critical years of their lives, and Don and Joanne are grateful for the love and consideration they received. Their three daughters were married in the sanctuary.

Don and Joanne have always supported mission trips and Joanne accompanied the youth to Neah Bay in the 1970s, and both went to West Virginia while David Strickland was the interim pastor. As empty nesters, the Poes got involved in a Bible study group, which has lasted some 25 years. They feel very close to those who had been in the group and to those who currently belong. They have had a very active civic life as well, spending time and dollars with local organizations such as Valley Boys and  Girls  Clubs,  Tri-State Hospital  Foundation, Lewis-Clark State College, Walla  Walla  Community College, and the Clarkston Education Foundation.  

Don’s parents were life-long members of the First Christian Church while Joanne’s parents attended the Lutheran Church in Clarkston. After Harry’s death, Violet became active at First Presbyterian. She spent many hours in the kitchen for both the church bazaar and the Tri-State Hospital bazaar which was then held in Hendrick Hall. Her delicious cinnamon and dinner rolls were legendary.

    Don and Joanne feel really blessed by being members of this church. They encourage others to do the things that have satisfied them over the years. Make a dollar commitment, a time commitment through groups like choir, bible study, Sunday School teaching, Session, Deacons, or any other activity that needs doing, but get involved.

Phone: 509 758-3381
Fax:    509 758-3382
Clarkston First Presbyterian Church
1122 Diagonal, Clarkston
Washington 99403