Jennifer Stenkamp noticed something unusual two years ago when she visited Brandis Square, a downtown Bend landmark dedicated to the former mayor and beloved drugstore owner Richard “Dick” Brandis.
The plaque honoring Brandis was missing.
Stenkamp, a retired Redmond resident who grew up in Bend when Brandis ran his popular drugstore, was taking a walk down memory lane with the former mayor’s son, Dan Brandis, who wanted to see his father’s plaque.
The two friends were perplexed. They couldn’t spot the plaque in the square at the corner of Wall Street and Greenwood Avenue near the Newport Avenue Bridge.
“We went over to the square, and there was no plaque to be found,” Stenkamp said. “We were stunned.”
Solving the mystery became her mission. Stenkamp couldn’t imagine why anyone would purposely get rid of the plaque, which honored Brandis for years of civic involvement and his store, a favorite among children because of its large selection of toys. Stenkamp asked city staff and members of the Deschutes Historical Society about what happened to the plaque.
Nobody had a good explanation.
The best guess: The plaque was misplaced in 2006 during the reconstruction of the Newport Avenue Bridge. The city had many employees who were retiring, and new staff members may not have known the importance of the plaque, said Patty Stell, city recorder at the time.
“I know it wasn’t done deliberately,” Stell said. “No one would deliberately destroy or get rid of the plaque.”
Since her discovery, Stenkamp has spearheaded an effort to replace the plaque. She partnered with the historical society, and it agreed to recreate the bronze memorial. A rededication ceremony is scheduled for noon Friday.
Brandis Square and the plaque have special meaning to Stenkamp. Her father, John Stenkamp, served as mayor in 1976 and originally dedicated the square to Brandis, who died in October 1975 after suffering a series of strokes on a hunting trip in Montana. He was 62.
At the dedication ceremony in November 1976, John Stenkamp described Brandis as, “a quiet, friendly person who often worked in the background.
But few important community decisions were made without first consulting this person,” according to an account in The Bulletin.
Stenkamp said a highlight of her childhood was stopping in the Brandis Thriftway Drug store, on Wall Street where the Sidelines Sportsbar & Grill is open today.
The drugstore was a popular spot for children since it had a large toy department on the second floor.
“It was a magical place to go,” Stenkamp said. “It was the only store in Bend that had a year-round toy department. It had every kind of toy you would want. That was a treat as a child.”
Brandis opened his drugstore in 1939. In addition to his business, he held several community roles. He served two terms as mayor in 1953 and 1954, and was on the boards of the St. Charles Health System and Bend Chamber of Commerce.
Brandis Square sits across the street from his old drugstore. After his death, Brandis Square carried on his festive spirit with community gatherings.
For many years, the square hosted the community Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
The plaque that has been reinstalled in Brandis Square reads, “In memory of Richard W. Brandis, highly respected community leader and former mayor, who worked diligently to improve the quality of life to all the people of Bend.”
Dan Brandis, who lives in Gresham and works on power transmission systems for a living, said he plans to attend the rededication ceremony for his father’s plaque.
When he saw the plaque was missing two years ago, Brandis never expected it would be replaced.
He was unable to attend the first dedication ceremony more than four decades ago, so he is looking forward to being at the ceremony Friday.
“It’s very gracious of everybody,” he said. “Not everyone gets two dedications.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, email@example.com