Longtime tavern owner dies at 96

OLYMPIA – Agnes Marie Haumann, one half of the husband-and-wife team that operated downtown’s Eastside Club Tavern for more than 60 years, passed away this month from natural causes. She was 96.

Agnes did the books and her husband, Axel “Babe” Haumann, who died in 1981, tended bar at the tavern they bought in November 1942, daughter Marilyn Haumann said. Today, Marilyn keeps the books and is president of the corporation that runs the business; the business is managed by her son, Adam Perry.

Agnes died May 16 at Capital Medical Center in Olympia.

Marilyn said her mother and father built a business over 66 years that in some ways hasn’t changed, a tavern that still attracts a diverse group of customers, including lawmakers and students.

Agnes was meticulous, methodical and responsible, someone who paid close attention to record-keeping and saving money and knew how to cut corners when she needed to, Marilyn said.

“She’d look for 10 cents just to balance the checkbook,” she said.

Although she never tended bar, she still was a presence at the Eastside, Marilyn said.

Agnes also opened Haumann Floral and Gift Shop next door to the Eastside, a business she ran for more than 30 years before selling it in the early 1980s, Marilyn said.

“She liked doing her own thing, but the Eastside was always the primary business,” she said.

Agnes worked at the Eastside until her 90s before retiring to live with her daughter for about a year. She then moved into an adult family home. She stopped driving when she turned 90, Marilyn said.

“She was an extremely healthy woman all her life,” she said. “Dad and mom were always on their feet, and both were physically active all of their lives.”

Former customer and current Eastside employee Brant Boelts said Agnes was friendly, paid a fair wage and treated her employees well.

“She’d come in once a day to make sure everything was OK and that the bartenders had what they needed,” he said.

Agnes also helped propel Gravity Beer Market owner Jeff Bert into business, he said.

The connection runs deeper than that, Bert said, because the Haumanns bought the Eastside in 1942 from his grandfather, John Bert. Jeff Bert began working for Agnes as a manager of the tavern in 1994, he said.

“Still, at 70, she was at the top of her game,” Bert said.

He also learned lessons about business from Agnes, including that you should never ask employees to do something you wouldn’t do, Bert said. That exposure to the beer business played a part in Bert opening Gravity, he said.

“She was a wonderful lady with a very big heart, and she took care of you in the sense that you became part of her family,” Bert said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403