Ronda McLaughlin, 57, of Enterprise isn’t a Wallowa County native, and although she and Wallowa Countian John McLaughlin always planned to retire here, she enjoyed her life in other places.
Ronda went to school in Burley, Idaho, and graduated from high school in 1979 before going on to junior college in Hemet, Calif.
She went into banking in California and built a career that took her from teller to loan officer in Boise, Idaho.
One day a coworker and she took a trip from Boise to the Miner’s Jubilee in Baker City, and there she met John McLaughlin. She and John married a year later and settled in Wallowa County, where she got her real estate license with Wallowa Mountain Properties and created the property management arm of the business while husband, John, worked as a life-size welder at Valley Bronze.
They moved back to Boise in 1995 when their children, Cameron, (now 26) and Blake (now 25) were young because Wallowa County was going through hard times, there was talk of consolidating the school districts, and they became concerned about their children’s education.
Back in Boise, Ronda managed the Boise City ADA County Housing Authority Section 8 division while John worked in the maintenance department.
She branched out from there, doing real estate and managing a manufactured housing company sales center while John worked as a trucker delivering the homes.
Although they had meant to return to Wallowa County after retirement, the death of her sister-in-law, Maryann McLaughlin, helped them make the decision to come back in 2017.
She now works for Wallowa County as a department specialist for Wallowa County Building Codes and Planning. John is still driving truck, now for Farm Supply Trucking of Enterprise.
The couple is committed to working with the Wallowa County Humane Society, where she is a board member. Ronda recently negotiated with Disney Studios to bring “Homeward Bound,” part of which was filmed in the area, to the OK Theatre for a showing March 31 to raise awareness of the work of the society.
Q. Why do you live in Wallowa County?
A. When I was a little kid, my grandpa always used to take me to Wallowa County, and I have a lot of childhood memories. We always planned to come back here when we retired. When I left Wallowa Mountain Properties, they kept my key for me, knowing I would return.
Q. What has Wallowa County taught you?
A. I have been constantly reminded that I’m not a local and that’s a pet peeve. It’s different for those that were born and raised here.
Q. Can you recall an early book you checked out of the library for yourself, and can you recommend a book you have read recently?
A. “Old Yeller” by Fred Gipson. I was in grade school. And of course I saw the film, too. Right now I’m reading “Unknown Predator,” which is written by a Wallowa County writer, A. Dru Kristenev, about a rancher fighting the tangle of government regulations. (Available at The Bookloft.)
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