In 1986, Mark Budlong is pictured at Bill’s Steakhouse, the Parkrose restaurant his family owned for more than 30 years. COURTESY BUDLONG FAMILY"

In 1986, Mark Budlong is pictured at Bill’s Steakhouse, the Parkrose restaurant his family owned for more than 30 years. COURTESY BUDLONG FAMILY”

Former owner of Bill’s Steakhouse passes

Howard Mark Budlong, beloved husband, father and grandfather passed away in December at age 82 with his family and friends by his side. He was born Dec. 14, 1932 at the old St. Vincent’s Hospital in northwest Portland to Howard James and Ouida Budlong of Portland.

His mother, father and sister preceded Budlong in death.

Budlong is survived by wife Charmie, three sons: Brian (Wendi), Bradley (Adeline), and James; daughter Elaine, and stepsons Daniel (Colleen) and James (Janine).

A Portland native, Budlong attended Ockley Green and Alameda elementary schools and then Grant High School (class of 1950). Throughout his life, Mark loved wheels. His first set was a bike he stole at Peninsula Park at age seven. Mark learned a hard lesson that day when his father took him and the stolen bicycle to the police station and his dad told him he might have to go to jail.

Despite the scare, his love for wheels continued throughout his life with trips to Indianapolis and several racetracks in the Carolinas to not only spectate, but also participate.

Thanks to many summers at the B’nai B’rith Camp on the Oregon coast, Budlong could say ‘grace’ in Hebrew. He was proud to swim across D-Lake when even camp councilors could not.

Budlong thrived on work. He not only delivered the daily Oregonian during World War II, but Saturdays he also sold the Oregon Journal on credit to buy Sunday Oregonians for sale. In his formative years he unloaded hardwood flooring; worked at the Mobil station at Northeast 33rd and Broadway; washed dishes at Ireland’s Restaurant in Lloyd Center; at 16, iced rail cars, and when he turned 17, was offered full-time work at Pacific Fruit Express after working there summers.

All this time he had a fast car: a 1929 Model/AV8; later he acquired a hopped-up 1949 Ford.

After high school, he attended the University of Portland, but in January of 1951, enlisted in the Navy. He loved his wheels so much, that when he shipped out to Japan, he figured out a way to take his motorcycle with him.

Returning home after his tour of duty, he was an installer for Pacific Northwest Bell. He had many firsts in this job. He not only picked up the most “left phones” in one shift, but also installed the most phones in a shift and even disconnected phones at a bordello, just two blocks from a police station. Loaned to Western Electric Defense Projects, Budlong went to Alaska, Greenland and Canada looking for icebergs damaging undersea cables.

On his return to Portland in 1968, he went to work for his dad running Bill’s Steakhouse in Parkrose. Budlong always said he was proud that he always provided good health insurance for his employees. Thirty years later, he sold the steakhouse and retired.

Budlong married Mary in 1962 and later Charmie in 1999. He loved his children and stepsons. He and Charmie enjoyed trips and adventures around the country and world in their years together. They enjoyed their blended family, celebrating birthdays and holidays together.

Budlong was very active in the community and always ready to lend a hand for anyone who needed help. He thrived on helping others.

He was in Kiwanis Club and SnowCap—where he initiated bottle drive a few years ago that has grown into a big project and fundraiser for the community charity. “It was amazing to see how much money he raised over a year—just for collecting cans and bottles,” said longtime friend Charlie Ross. In 1992, he was recognized with a Mid-county Community Award for Social Service Person of the Year.

In addition, Budlong was involved in the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp for Disabled Children & Youth; Shaver Elementary School awards program, the Parkrose High School Key Club, and the Portland Children’s Book Bank. Mark also held membership with the Elks, Gresham Police’s Citizen Volunteer in Policing program, NASCAR, the Humane Society, and the American Legion. Moreover, he was a reliable and consistent American Red Cross blood donor. “Mark was involved in all of those and more, and always the hardest worker,” Ross said. “What a great guy he was. The only problem was that he was Republican.”

When Mark knew that he was dying he talked to Ross, a retired pastor, about not knowing what to do about his memorial service. “He said he wasn’t a religious or church person, and asked me about that,” Ross said. “I told him that he might not have been a church person; however, as he did so much for those in need he certainly did God’s work throughout his life.”