While Anna Wichman was growing up, her family traveled extensively across America. The family journeyed through 47 of the 48 continental states, drove clear across Canada, and spent seven consecutive spring breaks in San Felipe, Mexico.

Justin Clayton had been to Guatemala, spent months in Asia, traveled through Eastern Europe and went to Costa Rica several times.

“They were great together because they were both travel people, and they were both really goofy,” Clayton’s mother, Sharon Lykins-Brown, said.

The couple was headed to the Columbia River Gorge on Wednesday, a modest adventure by their standards, when the Kia Soul they were traveling in was struck by a pickup truck that crossed the center line on Washington State Route 14 near Washougal.

Both Portland residents died at the scene. The collision, which remains under investigation, also injured three others.

Steve Wichman remembers his 29-year-old daughter as a passionate traveler and an artist with a magnetic personality. She cared more about others than herself, he said, and had a knack for engaging others in conversation, making them feel like the most important person in the room.

“She never understood how beautiful of a person she was, I think,” he said.

She graduated from South Albany High School in 2004 and spent a year at Oregon State University before transferring to Linn-Benton Community College, where she earned an associate’s degree. She earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Western Oregon University in 2010 and was looking into master’s programs and obtaining a teaching certificate, he said.

Clayton, 25, who earned an associate’s degree in outdoor leadership from Johnson State College in Vermont in 2012, also planned to return to college, his mother said. He wanted to become a gym teacher.

Anna Wichman and Clayton were employed at a Hotlips Pizza on Northeast 33rd Avenue near Killingsworth Street in Portland. Lykins-Brown said the restaurant staff is a “tight-knit group” that spends time together away from work.

That Hotlips location closed Wednesday after the crash and remained closed Thursday out of respect for its employees, Allison Mcgillivray, Hotlips marketing manager, said.

Lykins-Brown said her son had a keen sense of humor and a big smile. Clayton was a vegetarian and enjoyed cycling and soccer, she said. His primary passion, though, was the outdoors.

“Justin can’t see anything like a rock or a mountain without climbing it, and he can run full-tilt up the mountain,” his mother said.

Matthew Clayton, more than 3 years Justin’s senior, said he remembers his brother as a man with a positive attitude who was at peace with himself and his surroundings. They were close, he said, calling on memories of going to concerts together and watching his brother play with his niece and nephew.

Lykins-Brown said her son had a special ability to inspire others.

“He kind of made you rise to a challenge to be a better person, I think,” she said.

Anna Wichman spent much of her time in Asia improving the lives of others, teaching English and art in Thailand for two years, her father said. She was beloved by her students, he said. 

She had friends in Nepal, India, Thailand and Indonesia, her father said, and also enjoyed hanging out with her friends in Portland. She was a Trail Blazers fan and her father’s ski buddy.

He said the Wichman family is close, brought together by years of traveling.

“Most people think (when) their kids hit 13, they’ll never spend a minute with them again,” Steve Wichman said.

That wasn’t the case when Anna Wichman was growing up.

“We just enjoyed being around each other,” her father said.

— Jim Ryan

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