Mollie Andrews, proprietor of legendary bakery for 42 years, dies at 95

Scott Swanson

There’s not a lot of variety in the memories longtime Sweet Home residents have of Mollie Andrews, who died Aug. 18 at her home in Sweet Home at age 95.


“A beautiful person.”



They remember the loggers and cops who snuck in the back door of Mollie’s Bakery, which she operated at 1333 Main St. for 42 years, until she “retired” in 2004.

She was best known for rising in the wee hours to get to her business by 2 a.m., where she served truckers and local residents her legendary doughnuts and plenty of other culinary delights.

“We had to put in a 12- or 16-hour day,” Mollie recalled in an interview a few years ago. “We hardly ever got out of there under eight hours.”

“The official opening time was 4, but if you got there early, you could come in the back door,” recalled Steve Hanscam, who owns the building in which Mollie’s Bakery was located after she purchased the bakery in 1962. “Police officers and loggers would do that all the time.”

When firefighters rousted themselves out of bed in the middle of the night to respond to a blaze or a bad accident, Mollie would get the coffee on and feed them when they came back and needed to debrief.

Her eatery was the center of the community in many respects. In fact, as a longtime resident once put it, for years Mollie was the only person in Sweet Home who would be universally recognized by simply her first name: Mollie.

“I think every kid that grew up with Mollie’s bakery has some stories,” Hanscam said. “My wife would come down and help put frosting on doughnuts in the morning, sometimes. Every kid who grew up around here has a story like that – being there to eat at 4 in the morning, getting some of those doughnuts.”

A big sports fan herself, Mollie built a tradition with her breakfasts for football players on game days.

“Other than the wonderful person that she was, the one thing I remember most is that her crunchy twists were something to die for,” said current Sweet Home Head Football Coach Dustin Nichol, who graduated from Sweet Home High School in 1988. “I don’t think they can duplicate those.

“I just remember that any time we had a football breakfast, it was always at Mollie’s Bakery.”

It was also a spot where students – not just athletes congregated.

“I would take $2 and go down there and have a burger and fries and a Coke,” Nichol recalled. “That was my lunch money. Linda Andrews and Carol Hagle and Peggy Morehead and Mabel Medlock, those ladies took care of a lot of athletes.”

Hanscam noted that Mollie’s was the gathering place where plenty of business would get done.

“The Coffee Club met there,” he said. “It was a group of us – 15 or 20 business guys who would meet there on a daily basis, have coffee and solve the world’s problems. It was quite the tradition.”

Service was an integral part of Mollie’ persona – no matter where she was.

“She cared about everyone,” Hanscam said.

Mona Waibel, who wrote about history for years in The New Era, recalled how, when she was manager of the Chamber of Commerce, she would host receptions for Gov. and then, later, Sen. Mark Hatfield, on visits to Sweet Home.

“It was always the highlight,” she said. It would be a coffee at Mollie’s with all the good people coming to shake hands.”

Mollie tried to retire from the restaurant business at 70, but returned after the buyer was unable to keep things afloat. She finally retired for good in 2004.

Whether it was serving on the Board of Directors at The Senior Center or recuperating at Twin Oaks after breaking her leg earlier this year, “she was used to serving, caring for other people,” fellow Senior Center Board member Glenda Hopkins said. “At Twin Oaks, she was on the receiving end of that.”

Mollie was “always positive and upbeat,” Hopkins added.

“There were times when her back was really bothering her and she’d have to go home in the afternoon and lie down. But you wouldn’t know it to be around her. She didn’t make a big issue of it.

“She was very supportive of the people who worked with her.”

She clearly felt a mutual affection for the community she lived in worked in.

“I love Sweet Home,” Mollie once said. “The people are so friendly and I love our lakes and mountains. It’s the best place to live. I have been blessed.”

“She was a very, very generous lady to the community,” Joan Riemer, vice president of the Sweet Home Senior Citizens Center Board of Directors, told The New Era several years ago.

The Chamber of Commerce recognized Mollie with its First Citizen award in 2000.

In recognition of Mollie’s contributions to the community over the decades, Riemer and other Senior Center members published a cookbook that includes 50 of Mollie’s up-till-now-secret recipes.

“We decided that since she owned the bakery, we’d do a cookbook to honor her,” Riemer said. “Some day she won’t be around any more and we’ll all miss her terribly. She’s been a wonderful person in the community.”

Mabel Medlock worked with Mollie for 20 years at the bakery, mostly as a waitress out front.

“She was a a wonderful, wonderful person,” Medlock said. “A very nice boss. We had a good time.”

Medlock told a reporter she couldn’t recall when she actually started at the bakery – or when she quit.

“Mollie would probably have all that in her records,” she said.

She was always on top of the numbers,” said Ken Bronson, director of the Senior Center for the whole six years Mollie served as the organization’s treasurer.

“She was a pleasure to work with. I liked her style. We thought of things the same way. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a nonprofit or profit or government or whatever, you have to be able to pay your bills, be prepared for the future.

“We’d go through the financials before board meetings. She was always on top of it.”

From her retirement in 2004 until last year, Mollie did the shopping for the Senior Center’s Wednesday lunches herself.

“At 94 years old she was still going to Costco, Safeway, Thriftway, Megafoods, whatever,” Bronson said.

“She was still taking her van and going out and buying the food. She always complained about the price of food.”

She was forthright and no-nonsense.

“She said what she thought. She didn’t hold back,” Hanscam said.

She could appreciate the finer things in life.

Bronson said he and Mollie also shared an appreciation for quality pie. Bronson said he once had a job in which he had to spend most of the week in Portland. Bored in the evenings, he learned to make pie, and developed it into an art.

“She was expert when it came to pies,” he said of Mollie. “Whenever I baked a pie I’d have to bring a piece for Mollie. She’d come in to check on something and she’d see that blue top on the Tupperware. She’d get so excited, she’d start bouncing up and down: ‘Oh, you made me pie!’

“I’m going to make a pie for the family, I think.”

Medlock said Mollie was “unique.”

“There’s never going to be another one like her,” she said.

Hanscam echoed that.

“She was one-of-a-kind, a beautiful person.”