Norman Call is ready for a break, albeit a bittersweet one.
The 76-year-old owner of the Dogwood Motel in Idleyld Park said Friday that there soon will be new ownership as he prepares to embark on his retirement.
The escrow papers will be signed in the coming week.
“I first listed it around eight months ago and had several possible buyers,” Call said. “Finally, there was a family that wanted to run it so we made a deal on that.”
The motel sold for $750,000, a little lower than what Call had originally asked, but he settled on the offer because “I’m ready to retire.”
The Dogwood is a landmark on the North Umpqua River along Highway 138 just east of Susan Creek. Built in the mid-1930s, Call’s grandparents — Belia and Cecil Dexter — and his parents — Harry and Artis Collins — took over ownership of the motel in 1970.
It became a place for fishermen and outdoorsmen to enjoy nature and escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. When Call’s family originally took over the motel, it consisted of three log cabins. The Dogwood later grew to a total of eight units, many of which his family added after purchasing the resort.
While his family embarked on this new venture, Call had just been discharged from his service with the United States Marines as a combat photographer in Vietnam. Rather than join the family business, he struck out on his own by starting a graphics reproductions firm.
In the early 1980s, his stepfather, Harry, passed away, so he sold the two businesses he was operating and moved to Douglas County to help take care of his mom. By 1990, Norman was the boss.
“It’s a landmark,” Call said. “It’s been here a long time and fishermen come here from all over the world.
“I’ve made a lot of friends here.”
The resort and Call saw some losses during the Archie Creek Fire in September 2020. A townhouse behind the main front log cabins was lost in the blaze, but the cabins were preserved. Just 50 yards away, the Frontier Store — which Call also owned — was reduced to rubble as the wildfire ravaged two buildings on that property.
“We lost everything but Dogwood proper,” Call said.
While the old Frontier Store and attached garage cannot be rebuilt due to federal zoning regulations — “They can be seen from the river,” Call explained — the townhouse was able to be rebuilt and was completed in February.
“They did a good job on (the townhouse) and it’s in high demand,” Call said.
Call, who said he will turn 77 this month, decided to try and find another group who would give the resort the same care his family has for the past 52 years.
“I wanted someone to come in who can work it and improve it, and I think this family will,” Call said.
As for retirement, Call hasn’t had much time to enjoy other aspects of life.
“I do want to kick back and do a little traveling,” Call said. “Working here, I don’t get much time off.”
Having already purchased a home in Sutherlin, Call will still be around when the new owners take over, “30 days or so to show them the ropes,” he said.
But the day he finally hands over the keys will be the end of a 72-year chapter in the lives of both Call and his family.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “It’s a family heirloom.”