July 17, 2004: Headlines: COS - Turkey: Service: Return to our Country of Service - Turkey: The LaGrande Observer: Turkey RPCVs Rich and Judy Wandschneider thrive on Corps Values

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Turkey: Peace Corps Turkey : The Peace Corps in Turkey: July 17, 2004: Headlines: COS - Turkey: Service: Return to our Country of Service - Turkey: The LaGrande Observer: Turkey RPCVs Rich and Judy Wandschneider thrive on Corps Values

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-22-73.balt.east.verizon.net - on Friday, July 23, 2004 - 5:51 pm: Edit Post

Turkey RPCVs Rich and Judy Wandschneider thrive on Corps Values

Turkey RPCVs Rich and Judy Wandschneider thrive on Corps Values

Turkey RPCVs Rich and Judy Wandschneider thrive on Corps Values


Published: July 17, 2004

Some people might think that Wallowa County is remote, isolated and behind the times.

Rich and Judy Wandschneider of Joseph don't think so. They've lived where there was no electricity or running water in homes, and no private cars.

The Wandschneiders just celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary, and the day they met in Turkey.

Judy grew up near Pittsburgh, Rich in Minnesota and southern California.

Both joined the Peace Corps after college, Rich in 1965 and Judy in 1969.

They were assigned to separate regions of Turkey about three hours apart.

They wouldn't meet for some six months.

Rich had worked on rural community development from 1965 to 1967. In 1968, he spent a year working as a Peace Corps staffer in Washington, D.C. He traveled to Iran, Tunisia, Germany and Norway. In 1969 he returned to Turkey.

Judy, meantime, became a child-care volunteer in a Turkish orphanage in Kutahya.

For Christmas, she traveled to Ankara with friends. The group had Christmas breakfast at Rich's house.

Rich traveled the country. He made a point to stop in her town whenever he could.

Peace Corps ousted

In 1970, the Peace Corps was thrown out of Turkey due to anti-American feelings generated by the Vietnam War and the American policy regarding Cyprus, Rich said.

A total of about 1,500 volunteers had worked there since 1964, Rich said.

As a Peace Corps staff member, Rich was to stay in country to help organize the departure of other volunteers.

Judy decided to travel through Europe with a girlfriend.

In that era before cell phones and Internet cafes, Judy and Rich would not be able to stay in contact.

They both agreed that if they still felt connected they would meet in London's Trafalgar Square on Aug. 17, 1970.

This big, tall guy did go to the square, two months after they had made the pact. "It was huge," Rich said. Still, he did manage to find the petite little gal with the sparkling eyes and smile.

Back to the U.S.A.

Judy landed a job with the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C.

Rich was volunteering on Capitol Hill, and looking throughout the country for work.

They were married in Washington, D.C., July 12, 1971.

Back in 1965, Rich had been trained at Portland State University. He liked Oregon. Judy hadn't seen the West Coast.

Rich accepted a job as a rural community development agent with the OSU Extension Service.

He was to be stationed in Wallowa County. Two days after their wedding, they moved there.

On the way, Judy, too, was as struck as Rich had been by the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge .

They were driving to a new life in a '67 Volkswagen Beetle with a sun roof, and all their worldly possessions in seven boxes.

However, as they continued eastward, things began to look dry and desolate. She then cried at the prospect of living in Eastern Oregon.

"Then, we dropped into this beautiful valley," she said. And, they've been there ever since.

In Enterprise, Judy helped start a kindergarten and an activity center for handicapped children.

She then became one of the first caseworkers for the state Children's Services Division.

She would end up working with three different district attorneys.

In 1976 Judy and Rich took a chance and opened the Bookloft at the time the only bookstore in Wallowa and Union counties, other than the one at Eastern Oregon College in La Grande.

Judy worked at the store, and also part-time with victims' assistance for the district attorney.

Judy also opened Judy's Kitchen in the rear of the bookstore.

Her kitchen at home was also busy. They started a family and raised two boys, Matt and Que, who are now 29 and 26 respectively, each married with two children of their own.

In 1988 the Wandschneiders sold the Bookloft to Mary Swanson, who still operates it.

Judy went back to school. She commuted over Tollgate and the Blue Mountains for two winters to Walla Walla College and got her master's degree in social work.

Judy has been a therapist since 1989 and has had a private practice in Joseph for nine years. She still works with children one day a week at the Wallowa Valley Mental Health Center.

She traveled to New York City as a Red Cross volunteer to help survivors of the 9/11 (2001) terrorist attack.


In 1988, Rich founded Pika Press and published several books.

Also in 1988 Rich, in collaboration with authors Kim Stafford and Alvin Josephy, started Fishtrap with a conference bringing Western writers and literary figures to Wallowa Lake.

Fishtrap has become a non-profit organization to promote good writing and clear thinking in and about the West through conferences, workshops and classes.

Being the director of Fishtrap grew into a full-time job for Rich.

Talking Turkey again

Rich is also involved with the community service group Rotary International.

In April, he and Judy, for the first time, revisited Turkey for three weeks as part of a Rotary Friendship Exchange. They traveled 2,000 miles by bus.

"It was very moving," Judy said, to go full circle and visit the orphanage where she'd worked.

It seemed a miracle to her that the orphanage, now surrounded by high-rise buildings. had been saved despite the town's growth from 20,000 to 280,000 people.

It was also rewarding, they said, to go back as an older person interested in the history of the development of ancient civilizations and Turkey's changing population.

The Wandschneiders are fascinated with what Rich calls, "the ancient world and modern country of Turkey."

As the Wandschneiders celebrate their 33 years together in Wallowa County, they are looking forward to hosting Turkish Rotarians in Wallowa County, and are hoping to return to Turkey again.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: The LaGrande Observer

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Turkey; Service; Return to our Country of Service - Turkey



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.