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About the Friends

2023 Executive Board

  • Bernie Thurber – Chair
  • Molly Spencer – Vice Chair
  • Kasey Holwerda – Secretary
  • Deelia Warner – Treasurer
  • Carolyn Wheatley
  • Joan Palmer


  • Jeremy Curtis – Superintendent of the Oregon Caves National Monument


Sue Densmore – Executive Director

Sue Densmore has been the Owner and President of Sue Densmore Communication Strategies since 1996. The former General Manager of Rogue Waste Systems, Rogue Disposal and Recycling and Dry Creek Landfill and a consultant to a wide range of businesses including the development of the Schmiesing Eye Surgery Center, People’s Bank of Commerce, the Umpqua Land Exchange Project and the communities of White City and Gold Hill. This has included developing core business strategies, business and marketing plans for new companies, re-engineering existing companies to help them find their focus and plan their future and the full or partial implementation of the plans.

Rose Harwood – Development Coordinator

Rose is our Grant Writer and Development Coordinator. She researched and wrote the Historic Furnishings Report and recently completed an Arcadia book on the history of the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve from 1874 to 2017.  In her real life, she is Founder and Executive Director of Unseen Films Oregon.  She is the writer of Trash! and Sisters. Rose has experience as an actor in feature film, television, and commercials, and as a producer in feature film. Prior to moving back to Oregon in 2022 she spent two decades in LA and NYC building a powerful network in the entertainment industry. Rose is a proud graduate of the University of Southern California. Her funny, smart and spoiled rescue terrier, Claire, often weighs in on important matters as well.

Lucas Pelton – Outside Consultant

Lucas, the full stack technical architect behind MOM+POP, Ltd. delivers enterprise-grade digital services to small and medium businesses.

From our website to print collateral, to print separations, he’s our go-to. Bringing over 20 years of experience in web design and business consulting, he’s an invaluable resource.

The Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau is a non-profit organization cooperating with the National Park Service (NPS), bureau of the United States Department of Interior, in the preservation, stewardship and improvement of cultural and natural resources of the Oregon Caves National Monument. The Oregon Caves and the Chateau are unique assets of national significance that contribute to the identity and economic well-being of the local community. The Oregon Caves Chateau, a national landmark and the primary historic structure in the Oregon Caves National Monument is one of the three publicly owned, historic lodges of Oregon that provide overnight accommodations. The furnishings and setting create a feeling of nostalgia that is unforgettable.

The Oregon Caves and Chateau have not had a Friends Groups since the 1950’s. The Friends will be raising the needed funds to restore the interior and the furnishings and to show local, statewide and national support for a priority in the National Park Service budget for the full structural restoration of the Chateau.


  • Build the Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau into a strong partner organization to provide financial and volunteer assistance for the benefit of the Oregon Caves National Monument.
  • Develop Restoration, Conservation and Maintenance Plans for the Chateau, Monterey Furniture, and historic Guide Dormitory
  • Educate citizens, historians, businesses, on the importance of restoring the third of three publicly owned historic lodges in Oregon.
  • Develop and enhance the financial support for the proper historic conservation and maintenance of the Chateau, Monterey Furniture and Guide Dormitory
  • Broaden base of volunteer and community support for the restoration and maintenance of the Chateau as a working, historic lodge.
  • Connect the Oregon Caves National Monument, the Caves, and the Chateau to Cave Junction, Grants Pass, Brookings, Crescent City, Medford, Roseburg and neighboring regional communities as well as the important role the Monument plays in travel and tourism for the State of Oregon.

Founding Donors

The Friends would like to extend a special thank you to the following “Founding Members”.  These remarkable individuals and organizations expressed confidence in the Friends by making the first contributions of $1000 or more during the Founding period from  May 2008 to May 2013.

  • The Avista Foundation
  • The Architecture Foundation of Oregon
  • The Carpenter Foundation
  • The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund of the National Historic Trust
  • The Four Way Foundation
  • The Kinsman Foundation
  • Meyer Memorial Trust
  • The Oregon Community Foundation
  • Robertson E. Collins Fund of OCF
  • The Oregon Cultural Trust
  • Southern Oregon Sanitation
  • Donations in Memory of Connie Baker Palmer
  • Chapman and Kathy McGrew – Crew of 1968
  • Illinois Valley Community Development Organization/Oregon Caves Outfitters
  • The Lium Family Sue, Michael and Stephen
  • James and Della Lium
  • Evergreen Federal
  • Menno Kraai and Jennie May Donnell
  • Trudy Kraai Monsma
  • Harm and Marian Kraai
  • Sue Densmore
  • George and Molly Spencer in memory of the Bakers and the Palmers
  • Kasey Holwerda
  • Pete and Trish Varney
  • Craig and Cynthia Ackerman
  • Mike and Karen Beverly – Crew of 1966-1969
  • Jerralynn Ness and Bernie Thurber
  • National Environmental Education Foundation
  • Scott Nelson and Margaret McGoldrick
  • Alan Dennison
  • Scott Robson
  • Lam Research

Inaugural Board

The Friends thank the Founding Board, partners and staff for their leadership in the development of the VISION of the Friends between May 2008 – May 2011.

Group of individuals sitting around a table looking at the camera
  • Steve Swearingen –  Chairman
  • James Dole – Vice Chairman
  • Ron Fox
  • Dean Wendle
  • Dave Thompson
  • Kenny Houck
  • Menno Kraai
  • Dave Toler
  • Kris Woodburn
  • Paulie Brading
  • Jim DeCourcey
  • Liaison /Partners:
    • Craig Ackerman, Superintendent of the Oregon Caves National Monument
    • Robert Schumacher, Executive Director, Oregon Caves  Outfitters.
  • Staff:
    • Sue Densmore – Executive Director

Leadership Advisory Board

The Leadership Advisory Board of the Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau is a wonderful group of advisors from across the United States. Their advice and counsel continues to be invaluable as the Friends’ move forward with the restoration and conservation of the National Monument’s Guide Dormitory, Chateau and its historic collection of Monterey Furniture. The Leadership Advisory Board is an “advisory only” group, so we seek input from time to time, and rely on their expertise in strategic planning as well as fundraising. We hold an annual gathering of the Leadership Advisory Board and our advisors are included in special events around the state as well as at the Monument.

Leadership Advisory Board

  • Linny Adamson – Mt. Hood
  • Emile Amarotico – Ashland
  • Sarah Baker Munro – Portland
  • Cory Benz – Lake Oswego
  • Paulie Brading – Medford
  • Joanne Carlson – Portland
  • Robert Christnaught – Portland
  • Carol Edelman – Portland
  • Mike Finley – Medford
  • Gerald Frank – Salem
  • Barbara Heyerman – Ashland
  • George Kramer – Ashland
  • Sara Lea – Lake Oswego
  • Sue Lium – Alaska
  • Robert MacLellan – Ashland
  • Jack McGowan – Sisters
  • Jan McGowan – Sisters
  • Merrill A. Tony McPeak – Lake Oswego
  • Kathy Mead – Lake Oswego
  • Jerralynn Ness – Portland
  • John Snider – Medford
  • George Spencer – Portland
  • Bernie Thurber – Portland
  • Pete and Tish Varney – Littleton Colorado
  • Steve Vincent – Medford
  • Joyce White – Portland

Foundation Support and Thoughtful Advisors

  • Jane Jarrett – Architecture Foundation of Oregon
  • Emily Mostue – The Carpenter Foundation
  • Christine D’Arcy – The Oregon Cultural Trust
  • Hugh Rowland – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Preservation
  • Steve Welch – The Four Way Community Foundation
  • Keith Kinsman – The Kinsman Foundation
  • Greg Chaile – Oregon Community Foundation
  • Doug Stamm, Eric Jones – Meyer Memorial Trust

We would like to thank and honor Jack Mills, Co-Convener of the Leadership Advisory board, who regrettably passed away in 2011.  Jack’s passion for the Friends will be dearly missed.