Person of the Year: Charles ‘Buck’ Hubbert remembered as businessman, philanthropist and family man


Charles Allen Hubbert embodied numerous identities in his 80 years of life.

To most, he was “Buck,” a hard-working businessman who spent decades in the tire industry in Chehalis. To others, Hubbert was a mentor, philanthropist and community leader who was passionately involved in the area until his passing. But to a select few, he was “Dad” and “Papa,” a dedicated family man with a strong sense of humor, who embraced every moment with his loved ones.

The Chronicle has chosen Charles “Buck” Allen Hubbert as the 2023 Person of the Year. Though he passed away at the age of 80 on Dec. 6, 2023, Hubbert’s impact on the Chehalis community and on Lewis County through his work as the president of the county’s Economic Development Council and a chairman on the Chehalis Industrial Commission will live on.



Hubbert was born on Nov. 27, 1943, in Tacoma to parents John and Margorie Hubbert. His father always called him “Buckshot” or “Buckaroo,” but the name “Buck” stuck. He was an Eagle Scout and graduated from Olympia High School in 1962. His father served in the military, and after returning home from his service, Margorie told her husband, “There are two things that people need in life: They need groceries, and they need tires. The grocery store is hiring, and a tire shop is hiring, so pick one.”

So, John Hubbert went to work at a local tire shop and began the Hubberts’ lineage of working in the tire industry. “Buck” Hubbert began working at Tires, Inc. in 1962 and purchased the business in 1969 with his business partner, Bill McWilliams. He took full ownership in 1985, and his son, Ralph, joined him in a partnership. The business remained in the Hubbert family until 2019.

At Tires, Inc., Hubbert was known as “Buck,” a one-name moniker that locals in the community recognized, similar to a pop star known by their stage name.

“Everybody that met him remembered him,” Amanda Hubbert, his granddaughter, said. “All these people kept saying that he’s one of those people that you could meet once or twice and you remembered him. He was so good at imprinting his charisma and wisdom and mentorship immediately in one conversation. I had people stop me in the grocery store and be like, “Your grandpa is just the best guy and he gives the best advice.’ ”

He had high expectations for his employees because he saw the best in them. He valued excellent customer service and ensuring that every customer was taken care of.

Amanda said her “Papa” was full of one-liners for his employees, such as, “Always take care of your customer first” and “Don’t lose sight of the bottom line.” He was strict and tough, but he prioritized others’ success before his own, she said.

This was especially true for Ralph, who initially began working for his father as a teenager, sweeping the floors of the tire shop and emptying garbage cans. He left for several years to work for auto parts companies before returning to Tires, Inc. But he said he never worked for his father; they were more like business partners in the shop.

“He was ‘Buck’ at work and ‘Dad’ at home,” said Rogette Hubbert, Ralph’s wife. “People thought that was weird, but he was not ‘Dad’ at work.”


At home, “Buck” transitioned to “Dad.” Hubbert loved taking Ralph fishing and hunting, and “Buck” yearned for the adventure. His greatest hunting achievement was the North American grand slam, in which a hunter harvests four species of wild bighorn sheep. He enjoyed fishing in Alaska and hunting in Montana, but some of Ralph’s favorite memories include elk hunting in the Packwood area, where they had a camp for years.

“We were a typical family. We went on some vacations, and he loved to hunt and fish,” Ralph said. “That was probably our time that we spent together through my childhood and all through our whole lives. That was our family time for him and me, so that was great to have all those memories of all the trips.”

Buck Hubbert was great at many things, Ralph said, but being a cowboy was not one of them. Ralph laughed as he recalled riding horseback with his mother and father as a child. They lived on a small farm on Brockway Road in Chehalis and owned horses, but Hubbert was never a horseman.

“It was always my mother and I who were involved in that. Every time we went on a horseback trip, it never failed that he ended up falling off,” Ralph said of his father. “He thought he was a good cowboy, but it was almost hilarious that every time he’d end up on the ground.”

Hubbert passed along all he knew to his only child, from the tools of the tire trade to how to be a mentor for others. Most importantly, Ralph said, he passed on the importance of giving back to one’s community and giving a voice for those who need it.

“It’s a tradition that he passed down and instilled in me that it was important to be involved in your community,” Ralph said.

Pride of Chehalis

Hubbert was a resident of Chehalis for over 60 years. He served as the president of the Lewis County Economic Development Council and as a chairman on the Chehalis Industrial Commission. He also spent 25 years as a board member at Security State Bank.

Hubbert never sought notoriety for the work he did in the community, whether it was helping to bring workers into Chehalis with good wages, serving as the grand marshal at Westminster Presbyterian Church’s Santa Parade or starting the United Way of Lewis County Golf Tournament in the 1990s.

Gail Shaw, a former chairman of the Industrial Commission, mentored Hubbert and taught him at an early age the importance of giving back to the community.

“He believed that if you had a strong community, you had a great community, especially with business and bringing good jobs to the community,” Ralph said of his father. “He always felt he could do more behind the scenes than he could out front. He felt that was a little bit of his legacy.”

When news of his passing spread in the community, the common sentiment shared on social media and within his circle of community members was that his kindness, his heart and his mentorship would be missed. Many thanked him for his service in providing jobs to the community and simply for being there for others, no matter the scale.

Debbie Campbell, former longtime director of the United Way of Lewis County, said, “He was a devoted family man and steadfast community leader. In my dealings with Buck through United Way of Lewis County, I always found him to have a great sense of humor along with his unparalleled empathy, always being there for others.”

Kyle Markstom, a Port of Centralia commissioner, added, “Buck Hubbert was the example of how a man should serve his church, family, friends and community. His contributions to our community cannot be measured. I had the honor of calling Buck a mentor and will miss his guiding advice.”

Hubbert remained involved with the Industrial Commission up until his passing. He believed that his work mentoring the next generation was never done. He was the first recipient of the Economic Development Council Gail and Carolyn Shaw Industry award in 2008, and he also received the Outstanding Eagle Scout Award in 2016, according to his obituary.

When Hubbert earned an award for his local philanthropy, “he was lucky if he said more than a half a dozen words,” Ralph said. The biggest joy in the awards for the modest Hubbert was that he could recognize the people in his life, including his wife of 36 years, Kaye, and those who called him “Papa.”


Hubbert had two grandchildren, Amanda and Jonathan. He loved traveling the world with them, including to the Caribbean, France, England, Mexico, Canada and more. In his life, he visited more than 30 countries.

He was an active grandfather, always joining them in their pool on Brockway or sliding down the tubes at a water park in Palm Springs, despite getting stuck in them and needing the life guards to deflate the tubes to get him out.

“He was just so hands on. He took us to Disneyland and Disney World, and he always went on the rides with us,” Amanda said. “He was just such a fun grandpa. He was so humble that he didn’t mind laughing at himself, and that’s a part of him that not everybody saw. I think a lot of people saw this very strict, direct businessman that really got things done, but he really had such a funny, humorous side that his family was so blessed to be able to see more than others.”

Once his grandchildren grew older, Hubbert loved to share advice and guidance in a way that wasn’t direct. He was influential in that he didn’t give away the answers to life’s turbulences but he paved the way for people to figure it out on their own.

“You’d hang up the phone and you’d go, ‘Oh, he was right.’ He wasn’t telling you how to do it, but he was helping you feel your way to make sure you were making the right decision, whether it was in business or in life,” Amanda said. “I’ll definitely miss that the most.”

Hubbert’s proudest accomplishment, of all in his 80-year life, was his family. In addition to his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, he is survived by his wife of 36 years, Kaye Hubbert; son Ralph and his wife Rogette, Ralph’s mom, Sandy, stepson Will Prince, granddaughter Amanda and Matt Ellis, grandson Jonathan and Maggi, and great-granddaughter Hudson Hubbert, his sister Sue and Larry Watilo and their family.