Few things can lessen the impact of the tragic passing of a close friend, but Duvall resident Sally Sutherland can take some solace in knowing she helped her friend make a positive difference in the community.
Before she died from a rare form of cancer at the age of 59, Pam Siegfried bequeathed significant funds to Sno-Valley Senior Center, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Redmond and Beck’s Place in Monroe.
In life, Pam had been an avid angler, mushroom hunter, and the fearless riding partner of Sutherland.
“We liked challenging horseback trails,” Sally said.
She recalled that on one of the many mushroom hunting expeditions the women did on horseback, that the two had navigated their animals up a steep and very technical trail without putting bridles on.
They laughed when they realized what had happened at the top because they know they would’ve never attempted that feat had they been with just about any of their other riding friends.
“That’s just the way we were,” she said.
The two met through a mutual friend on a three-day trailing riding trip through the woods. Although they came from different backgrounds, they clicked immediately.
“We were just like instant best buddies,” Sally said.
She described Pam as “gutsy” and always up to a challenge and trying new things.
Pam died of Cholangiocarcinoma on July 5, 2019, just 12 days shy of her 60th birthday.
She had been living at home in Yakima as much as possible with the help of friends who checked on her, Sally said. Two weeks before Pam’s passing, Sally and their friend CJ Bengston visited her.
The friends helped her clean up and decide to whom things should be left after her passing. While the three women ate dinner that night, Pam asked if the two needed any money.
She'd decided to leave some money to her family members but would like some of it to go elsewhere.
CJ and Sally said they didn’t need money, so the three of them came up with a plan to choose charities that she could include in her will.
“I was excited that she had the ability to make donations to three programs that are really cool and do a lot of good in the community,” Sally said.
Sally had Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center and Sno-Valley Senior Center in her will already, which is how they got added into the conversation. Sally’s mother-in-law had frequently gone to have lunch at the senior center, and she and Pam had attended some of its functions, such as Rainbow Bingo, together.
The donation has helped Sno-Valley to repair a water leak, paint the main hall and freed up money for the hot meal program, according to Director Lisa Yeager. Since the center started delivering and providing take out meals, its expenses have gone up by $700 a month, she said.
Sally is a medical assistant and has seen many patients who use the services of both Little Bits and the senior center.
CJ suggested Beck’s Place, which helps families in need to stay with their pets or helps rehome animals whose owners passed away or can't care for them anymore.
“This was a good charity also because Pam had a cat that she was really worried about what was going to happen to,” Sally said.
Luckily, CJ took in the cat, and they are happy together, Sally said.
The friends didn't know the donations would come at such a critical time with many nonprofits struggling in the wake of the pandemic.
“It was cool at the time to know that, in a personal tragedy, we were going to do something that was going to put a good out there into the world," Sally said.