Plateau area loses business pioneers

The Plateau area recently lost two key players in landmark businesses.

Pauline Kombol, among other things one of the managing partners of Palmer Coking Coal, died Jan. 24. On Jan. 28, Jim Fugate, the founder of Fugate Ford in Enumclaw, died.

A Kentucky native, Fugate came to Washington state at a young age, eventually landing in Enumclaw, where he would graduate from high school and meet Dolly, who became his wife of 63 years.

He served honorably in the U.S. Navy and, soon after returning to Enumclaw, discovered a passion, and talent, for sales. A life-changing moment came when he shifted from selling furniture to cars; he became one of the top salesmen in the Northwest and eventually became part owner of Collins Motors in 1960. When he took full ownership in 1966 the business name was changed to Fugate Ford. Additional lines of autos have been added and the business remains in the family today.

He was a member of Lion’s Club, on the board of Cascade Bank and an active member of Sacred Heart parish. He also will be remembered for his generous support of many community activities and charities

Kombol was born into the Morris family, a family that was at the forefront of the coal mining business when Black Diamond boomed. Both her great-grandfathers were coal miners, both her grandfathers were coal miners and her future father-in-law mined as well.

She was born in March 1927 in the tiny mining town of Durham, which has largely disappeared. The only signs that a town once existed are some remaining slag piles, noticed only by those familiar with the industry. Durham was north of Enumclaw, in a region dotted by small, long-forgotten communities.

Her family moved to Enumclaw during her youth and she graduated from Enumclaw High in 1945. She attended the University of Washington before marrying Jack Kombol in 1950.

While most of her time was dedicated to raising the couple’s five children, she also found time to serve many years as managing partner of Palmer Coking Coal Co., a dominant regional business of its era. Son Bill Kombol recalls she didn’t play a role in the day-to-day operation of the business, but rather looked for glaring inconsistencies in revenues or expenditures.

She also found time to serve on the Enumclaw School Board and was a director of Cascade Security Bank, one of Enumclaw’s early financial institutions.

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