“We were happy whenever we could be together,” Ben Nunez, 80, said as he looked around Room #8 at the Terimore Motel.
It was the same room he and his wife had stayed in decades ago when they first visited the Oregon Coast together.
“My wife and I were really good friends. I get emotional when I talk about it still.”
Now, owner of that same motel, it’s filled with memories of his late wife Priscilla and her giving spirit.
She was born in California, Ben said, and later moved to Oregon where she finished her high school education.
“After many years she decided to show me where she grew up,” said Ben. “She brought me here [Oregon] to show me where she used to go to the beach.”
At the time, Ben worked as an accountant in California while his wife worked for the government’s Social Security department.
But Priscilla was looking to change her line of work.
“She had the idea to find a bed and breakfast,” Ben recalled.
So, on one of their first trips to the Tillamook Coast, Ben and Priscilla happened to stay at the Terimore Motel because it was the only place still open late at night when they arrived in town.
“We saw [Netarts] Bay and it was beautiful,” Ben said. “The first thing my wife said was, ‘You have to buy this place for me.’”
“I said, ‘Are you crazy?’”
She said she could do something wonderful here, Ben remembered proudly.
When they returned their motel key at the end of their visit, they discovered the place was for sale.
Ben was reluctant, and the two traveled north to Seaside and toured a bed and breakfast along with a few other small motels, but nothing was as fitting to Pricilla as the Terimore.
“On the way back to California, we stayed one more night at the Terimore,” Ben said. “Over breakfast at the Schooner, I said no.”
Christmas time rolled around and Ben began to soften, so he sent off his money order and by March 1990 the two took possession of the motel.
Priscilla moved to Netarts to run the new business while Ben stayed in California to continue his work as an accountant, visiting Netarts for a week at a time once a month.
Since taking ownership, they have been making improvements. Most recently, the Terimore added a beautiful deck showcasing the view of Netarts Bay from the property.
“She loved flowers, so the place was full of flowers,” Ben said. “The guests would take photos of the flowers.”
After a few years of living apart, Pricilla said that they should sell the place.
Ben said his heart dropped, so he resigned from his job in 1995 and bought a house in the Tillamook area.
“The first year we were here, there was a winery in Washington that would bring all their people here for a week in the summer,” said Ben. “[We] had a party with a dance floor for them. By 11 p.m. the police arrived because we hadn’t invited the neighbors down the street.”
Over the years, Ben and Priscilla saw generations return year after year to Netarts. And hosted a fair number of weddings. The bride and groom often return to the Terimore to celebrate their anniversary.
“Today it is a personal satisfaction,” Ben said. “To see the couples in the windows eating dinner or playing cards, it makes me happy.”
In 2004 Pricilla was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 2008.
“She was a beautiful, good person.”
Stories of their time at the Terimore often reflect her generous character. Ben recalled a time that a local couple purchased a fixer upper.
“They got to the Terimore and told Pricilla that they bought a house and couldn’t stay there and had used [most] of their funds,” Ben said.
Pricilla asked how much they could afford, Ben remembered. They told her. And she said that amount was perfect, and they could stay as long as they wanted.
Pricilla would often find stray animals and put ads in the newspaper so that people could adopt them. She’d offer rooms to the homeless for small tasks they would do around the motel.
“People say to me, the Terimore has something,” said Ben.
A place built on love.
People often told Ben and Pricilla as time went on that they could raise their prices, but Pricilla didn’t give into the temptation of greed: another reflection of her character.
“‘We make the payment every month,” Ben recalls her saying. “‘Why would we want to make more money?’”
She was adamant about keeping the Terimore affordable for families.
“I’ll never be rich, but I’ll be happy,” Ben smiled.
To experience the love story of the Terimore Motel for yourself, visit their website for information and booking.