Standing on a new ramp to his home, Doug Waddell shakes hands with Dennis Taylor and Dan Barmon on April 15 in Sultan. Taylor and Barmon built the ramp for Waddell in exchange for two apple pies cooked up by Waddell’s mom and a friend. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Standing on a new ramp to his home, Doug Waddell shakes hands with Dennis Taylor and Dan Barmon on April 15 in Sultan. Taylor and Barmon built the ramp for Waddell in exchange for two apple pies cooked up by Waddell’s mom and a friend. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

What does two apple pies buy? A $3,500 wheelchair ramp

The kindness of two strangers, and a pie baker, helps Sultan amputee come home.

SULTAN — Mary Peterson Clark was a mom on a mission.

Her son, Doug Waddell, 61, needed a ramp at his Sultan mobile home after an emergency surgery in November to amputate his leg.

There are agencies that provide ramps, but this 85-year-old Monroe mother took matters into her own hands.

The wood stacked outside Barmon Lumber in Sultan gave her an idea. She asked owner Dan Barmon for a deal on a ramp.

“He said, ‘Well, Mrs. Clark, I have a friend who is an old construction guy,’” she said. “I said, ‘Do you know what this is going to cost me?’ He said, ‘$50,000.’”

She gasped.

What’s up with that?

He was messing with her.

“He said, ‘Mrs. Clark, it’s going to cost you two apple pies. One for my buddy and one for me,” she said. “He said, ‘We’re going to do it for you, we’re going to build you a ramp.’”

And they did.

“It’s nice wood, not cheap wood,” Clark said.

Barmon estimated the ramp would have run about $3,500, half in labor and half in wood.

The cost of the pie: priceless.

Waddell was able to easily be wheeled into his home in February after getting a prosthesis above his knee.

He lives alone and said he doesn’t know what he would have done without a ramp.

“The wheelchair goes up real nice. It’s more fun going down,” he said.

He has since moved on to a walker and a cane. He’s a burly guy with long arms that steered pickup trucks racing around Evergreen Speedway back in the day.

“Those two great gentlemen, they built this,” he said, gesturing toward the ramp. “Where do you find two great gentlemen?”

If you’ve ever talked to his mom, you know she has this way of bringing out the nice in people, even people who already are nice.

“They got together and put together a beautiful ramp,” Waddell said. “I am really thankful there are people in the world who still have hearts.”

Waddell didn’t know Barmon or Dennis Taylor, his Gold Bar carpenter buddy who donated the labor. They recently stopped by to surprise him when this photo was taken.

The amputation came after years of dealing with complications of neuropathy.

“Making that decision for them to cut my leg off, that was hard to do,” Waddell said. “The doctor said you have two days to live. The infection was that bad. I knew they had foots so I wasn’t worried about getting one.”

Still, this was a special limb he was losing.

“That was my gas pedal foot,” he said.

He is slowly getting back in the driver’s seat. No pedal modifications needed.

Waddell has two Ford pickups, a 1972 and 1984. The 1984 has a half-million miles on it. He used it on the hog and cattle farm in Iowa before moving to Washington in 1994.

He did motorsports and worked as a tire and car maintenance tech until going on disability in 2008 after the first of about five foot surgeries. He said the neuropathy might stem from serious injuries in a motorcycle crash in 1977 that hospitalized him for six weeks.

After the November leg amputation, he spent 106 days at Mountain View Rehabilitation in Marysville and praises the staff for helping him transition to his new life.

Recovery is ongoing.

“I still have pain,” Waddell said. “Every now and then I get a weird feeling, then you psych yourself there’s nothing there.”

A caretaker comes in two afternoons a week.

Waddell is making strides. “Yesterday I took the broom out and swept the driveway, stuff that needs to be done,” he said.

He watches a lot of TV, mostly car shows and “The People’s Court.”

“I’m a single man, just enjoying life. I like women and I’ll find the right one someday,” he said. “My mom has helped me during my down times. She always pulls me up.”

There’s more to this story than a great mom and two great gentlemen. There’s also a great pie baker.

Clark wanted special apple pies.

“I have a friend, she loves to bake,” Clark said.

Harriet Fugier, 81, was happy to help. The two women met in 1980 at Monroe’s Saint Mary of the Valley Catholic Church and became fast friends upon learning both not only hailed from the state of Iowa but had attended the same parochial high school in Sioux City, four years apart.

“She told me the story, and she says, ‘I would like to do a couple pies for them,’” Fugier said. “I make Crisco pie crust.”

She had frozen Granny Smith apples picked from her backyard. The women made an afternoon out of it.

Fugier said she would have made 20 pies for the men, though not all at once in her small kitchen.

“It’s wonderful what they did. How giving of their time and the lumber they were,” she said.

The great gentlemen downplay their greatness.

“All I did was bring the wood down there,” Barmon said.

The pie barter was a sweet deal.

“We like a lot of desserts here,” he said.

He offered to pay Taylor for his labor. Taylor wouldn’t take any dough, unless it was baked.

Why’d he do it?

“You need a reason?” Taylor said. “Dan told me some lady needed help. No big deal. Just a little piece out of my life. It’s something you do. It’s good for the soul.”

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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