Dennis and Nora Thomason had their first date after meeting at a Bandon Chamber of Commerce board meeting. So it's only fitting that this year, the couple who has served the Bandon community in so many ways are this year's Cranberry Festival grand marshals.
Both moved to Bandon 30 years ago, but didn't know each other at the time.
Nora is a fourth-generation Oregonian from Bend, descended from the Schroeder family. Dennis is from Ruebens, Idaho, a town with high elevation and few people.
Prior to moving to Bandon, Dennis started his career working in a drug store in Pocatello, Idaho. He then moved a drug store in Tri-Cities Wash. His district manager there purchased the Tiffany's Drug chain and asked Dennis to manage the one in Silverton.
Then Dennis opened and managed Tiffany's Drugs in Bandon, where he worked for 24 years until 2013, bringing his own sense of style to the store that included many local products and items not found elsewhere. That soon included a variety of fine wines that Dennis kept on the shelves as his interest in wine grew.
Nora lived in Newport for seven years, then moved back to Bend but wanted to get back to the coast.
"I went to Brookings and it was raining so I turned right and ended up in Bandon," she said. "I went the Crow's Nest and saw a beautiful sunset and thought 'I'm moving here.'" I didn't know a soul in Bandon."
Just down a door in the Bandon Shopping Center from Tiffany's (now Rite Aid), was Nora, working at Coos Curry Credit Union. It was 2 1/2 years before the couple met through a mutual friend and had their first date.
They became a couple in 1992, got married in 1994 and instantly became the Brady Bunch. Nora has two sons, Sam and Joe Sellers from a previous marriage, and Dennis has a daughter, Staci, and a son, Ryan Thomason, from a previous marriage.
"At one time we had all four of them in the house, who are each one year apart in age," Nora said, adding that the kids all bonded and are still close.
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The kids are grown but not far away. Three of them live in the Bend area, and one lives in Idaho. Dennis and Nora have seven grandchildren.
Nora was a bank and credit union manager for 22 years. She has worked at Edward Jones for the last eight years as a branch officer administrator.
Both Nora and Dennis have been active in Bandon Rotary since 1995. Dennis served as president and as as one of Rotary's first assistant governors. He is now Bandon Rotary's vice-president and has held treasurer, secretary and many other positions in the club. Nora was Rotary president for two terms as well as holding treasurer, secretary and board positions.
Dennis also served on the Bandon School Board and Nora was a member of the Southern Coos Hospital Budget Committee.
Both have been involved in the Chamber of Commerce for many years, serving on the Cranberry Festival Committee for more than 15 years. Nora also served on the Chamber board for 14 years, eight of that as secretary.
Dennis is known for his fine wine knowledge, having managed Tiffany's Fine Wine store and Bandon Fine Wines.
Nora has been a private chef for 10 years, making sumptuous dinners for small groups of golfers and other visitors to the area, even some celebrities. Dennis loves to golf and is semi-retired but has been working with Tony Russell, helping build the newest golf course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
They are both foodies and love to travel, spend time with family and relax at the McKenzie River, when they aren't in beautiful Bandon-By-The-Sea.
"The thing about Bandon we like so much is it's like living in a Hallmark movie," Nora said. "You know everyone and everyone knows you and you get to park in the front row at the grocery store. It's just comfortable because you have people always willing to help out."