William “Bill” Edward La Londe was born April 9, 1920 in Vancouver. He grew up on the family farm helping his father grow a variety of marketable crops including filberts, walnuts, strawberries, apples and prunes. He attended Barberton School and Shumway Junior High before graduating from Vancouver High School in 1936. La Londe subsequently attended Washington State College where he earned his bachelors in Architectural Engineering in 1941, graduating summa cum laude. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, and was a member of the Scarab (1937), Tau Beta Pi (1940), and Sigma Tau (1940) honor societies.
La Londe served in the US Navy in the later part of WWII from 1944-1946. He served on the USS Gardiners Bay, a seaplane tender, and rose to the rank of Jr. Lieutenant. His service took him to the Pacific theater with occupation forces in Japan and China during and after WWII.
After his discharge from the Navy, in 1947 he took a job as an architectural designer with local Vancouver architect Donald Stewart, rising to the level of associate. After Stewart decided to form a partnerhip with Kenneith E. Richardson in 1952, La Londe and Craig Weaver (another of Stewart’s draftsman) decided to leave the new firm and form their own partnership in 1955. Known as Weaver & La Londe, they designed numerous commercial and institutional projects in southwest Washington including George C. Marshall School (1960); Jason Lee Junior High (1967); MacArthur, Hazel Dell and Walnut Grove Elementary Schools (1968); the Columbia Presbyterian church (1966); the East Vancouver Methodist Church (1965); the Totem Pole Shopping Center; and several Burgerville restaurants.
In 1968 for reasons unknown, La Londe and Weaver parted ways and La Londe joined the firm of Nelson, Walla & Dolle as a principal architect. During his time with the firm, he severed as the supervising architect on various projects including Red Lion Motels in Portland, SeaTac (1970), Vancouver, Sacramento, Billings and Santa Barbara; Fort Vancouver High School, Gaiser Junior High School; homes at Salmon Creek Estates condominium project; expansion at SW Washington Hospital; and worked on shopping malls in SeaTac (1974), Moses Lake (1975), and Vancouver (1977).
La Londe pursued an active life, enjoying swimming, racquetball and various fitness endeavors. Among other interests, he was a talented watercolor artist, pianist, gardener, builder and home remodeler. He volunteered for many years as Scout Master for Troop 326, and served on the Vancouver Planning Commission (1960-65), and the Fine Art Commission (1962-72).
La Londe officially retired in 1982 and passed away in Vancouver on September 12, 2019 at the age of 99.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - March 2021