It’s been nearly six months since Mary Todd passed, but her legacy lives on in Astoria. As a lifelong resident of Astoria, a business owner, and volunteer, she left her mark, not only on her large family but on her beloved community and Clatsop County. Her birth name was Mary Bridget Haunani Dugan. Her mother was Hawaiian, and the Hawaiian culture had a significant impact on her and her family. She was lovingly called “Tutu” by her five grandchildren and carried on the torch as the matriarch of the family after her mother passed away.
She was the only girl child in a household of six children. With five brothers, she was well protected and close to her family. She spent many summers in Hawaii and helped her mom serve up large tasty meals to friends and neighbors. She picked strawberries in the fields as a child, which was the custom of the time. But she struggled with school and dropped out of her sophomore year of high school. Eventually, she went back and managed to complete both her junior and senior years in only 12 months.
Her first jobs required manual labor, but she seemed to enjoy working as a housekeeper at Crest Motel, and later at the plywood factory. She was never afraid or ashamed of hard work. She married her first husband, Jerry Stillwell, in 1983. Soon after, she gave birth to their daughter Victoria. Noah was born in 1985, and Bridget in 1986. They divorced in January of 1991, and that’s when Mary started working in the lounge at Denny’s in Warrenton.
While working at Denny’s, Mary met Dick Todd, and they quickly fell in love. Less than a year after her husband’s death, they married and started their new lives together as husband and wife. Dick owned “Worker’s Tavern,” which catered to local manual workers. It was a favorite dive bar of local laborers and even visitors from out of the area.
Mary became actively involved in the tavern and also served as a caregiver to Dick, who had cancer. He was in and out of hospice several times. Dick had served in Vietnam and worked on a ship that carried Agent Orange, and it was likely the cause of his chronic condition. It must have been a challenge for Mary to run the bar and raise the kids, while also being his caregiver.
At one time, the owner of the building wanted it back, so they lost the tavern for a couple of years. When they got it back again, Dick insisted that they change the name to “Mary Todd’s Workers Bar and Grill.” He felt strongly that Mary’s name should be on the sign. Over time, the bar became even more popular, eventually also making a list of “The Top Dive Bars in the Country.”
Dick passed away in January of 2001, and Mary struggled with the burden of responsibility of running their household and business. She had never had a formal education in business and ran it best she could with her heart and gut instinct, sometimes robbing Paul to pay Peter. Mary became an empty nester in 2008 and, sadly, turned to alcohol and working non-stop to keep herself busy. She had several rebound relationships with men that liked to party hard, and her drinking escalated, and her life began to unravel. Eventually, Mary entered two years of rehab, and it’s a good thing because the doctor said she was at death’s door. The detox was excruciating, but she made it through and stayed sober until her death from cancer on October 23rd, 2019.
Mary Todd was a beloved character with a lot of love in her heart. She was very active in AA, often opening her home to people in addiction recovery, even against the advice of those in the organizations. Her love language was food. Every Thanksgiving she provided a free traditional Thanksgiving meal at the bar for those in need. She also lovingly fed the cast and crew of Shanghaied in Astoria for years.
Mary Todd regularly volunteered through most of her adulthood and helped raise money for Toys for Tots, the school district’s sports programs, and other community organizations. According to her daughter, Bridget Linville, “She cared more about people than profit.” She often spoke of gratitude, both to friends and patrons of the bar, but also as a speaker at community events. She was extremely active in her community and even received a key to the city on her 50th birthday from the Mayor of Astoria and Senator Betsy Johnson. One thing is for sure, the life and legacy of Mary Todd will live on in the hearts of all that knew her.