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Donald C. Carey
February 17, 1925 – March 9, 2019

Donald C. Carey passed on March 9, 2019.  Don was born on February 17, 1925 in the family farm house in Gates, OR., the fourth of five boys born to Al and Velma Carey.  He attended school in Gates and graduated from Gates High School in 1943.  Don played 4 years of basketball at Gates High, participated in band, glee club, and school plays.  He also served as student body president his senior year. World War II interrupted his education after high school, and he joined the Army Air Corps.  Don had never flown in a plane but graduated from Bombardier School and served from 1943-1946.  It was during his time in the service that he started writing to a classmate who lived down the road from him, Helen Wilson.  Don later remarked that their flood of correspondence must have markedly increased the profits of the U.S. Postal service!

Upon discharge from the Army Air Corps Don returned to Gates.  Before enrolling at Oregon State College that fall, he worked at a sawmill and helped wire the family farmhouse for electricity.  After raising five boys the Careys finally had electricity! In 1950 Don earned a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Forestry.  During his years at Oregon State he and Helen continued their courtship and were married that spring.

During his senior year at Oregon State, Don was contacted by the Stayton Grade School Board of Directors and asked if he would be interested in a teaching job.  Don hadn’t envisioned a teaching career but met with them and was hired.  At the time there was a shortage of teachers and there was an emergency provision to allow college graduates to teach while completing their certificates.  He began taking summer courses at Oregon College of Education and completed his teaching credentials in 1956.

Don spent nine years teaching and coaching at Stayton Grade School.  In 1959 Don was approached about moving to the high school to teach and coach basketball.  He accepted and began what would be a 28-year career at Stayton High School.  Throughout the years, he established relationships with students that continue to this day.

Don taught a variety of classes at Stayton, but his favorite was one he developed and named “Conservation”.  The content included anything outdoors, from tree identification and basic forest management, to hunter safety and how to field dress a deer. Although he thought the name was unimaginative, apparently the class wasn’t; the content resonated with the students and enrollment had to be restricted to upper classman due to its popularity.  Eventually, Don became the Boy’s Guidance Counselor.  He always had a soft spot for the student whose behavior or background put them at risk academically or socially.  As the basketball coach, he had opportunities to involve these students with the team and in many cases, this sense of belonging and accomplishment brought about dramatic changes in the student which was very rewarding.  He also had an open-door policy at lunchtime.  He would eat lunch at his desk and soon his office became an informal meeting place for students to eat lunch and have discussions in a non-threatening environment.

Don went on to have a very successful coaching career at Stayton.  As the boys’ varsity basketball coach, he had a record of 486-166, a 74.5% winning percentage.  His teams won two state championships, state runner-up three times and 14 Capital Conference championships.  He also coached golf for 33 years where his teams won nine state championships, state runner-up three times and 20 Capital Conference championships.  All three of Don and Helen’s sons played basketball and golf for their dad.  Don credits Helen for much of his success.  She was always supportive keeping stats, attending games and balancing their schedules.  Dinner could be anywhere from 3:00 in the afternoon to 9:00 at night depending on the season! 

Don earned Coach of the Year honors for basketball (3 times) and golf (4 times), and in 1993 was named the NHSCA National Golf Coach of the Year.  In 1977 he was named Stayton First Citizen. 

Don began playing fastpitch softball while in the eighth grade.  In the ‘50s he played for Kelly Lumber Sales of Mill City, teams in Eugene, Corvallis, and finally Vandervort Builders of Salem.  In 1953 the Lumbermen of Kelly Lumber Sales won the Oregon State Softball Championship.  Don was named to the Oregon Softball All-State team three times at three different positions (pitcher, catcher and first base).

As a lifelong sportsman, Don enjoyed hunting for deer (Izee), elk (Ukiah), ducks (Turner Flats), geese (Summer Lake), pheasant, quail and chukar (John Day). A true highlight in his life was the 10 years of hunting for deer and elk in Colorado. He was a fisherman as well, fishing for steelhead on Drift Creek, trout at Crane Prairie, Marion Lake, Long Lake and any number of mountain lakes and bass at Warm Springs Reservoir. He is forever connected to his hunting and fishing partners, his brothers Gale, Norm, Eugene, Jim and their children, Herman Holm, Jim and Al Girod, Harold Longfellow, Mark Boedigheimer and many others.

While he spent his younger years pursuing all types of game, in later years he continued to pursue wildlife but with a camera. Inspired by Herman Holm, Don revealed a true talent for photography and captured the beauty of wildlife and their natural surroundings.

Don is survived by his wife of 69 years, Helen; sons Jon (Kim) of Monmouth, Tom (Liz) of Hillsboro and Steve (Kaz) of Tigard; grandchildren Jeff Carey, Shannon Carey, Brian (Jillian) Carey, Tyler Carey, Alex Carey, Serene (Mike) Regen and Jennifer (Austin) Cresswell; two great grandchildren Rhyse Carey and Mina Cresswell.  He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Eugene, Gale, Norman and James.

Services will be March 19 at 2 PM at the First United Methodist Church, 1450 Fern Ridge Road, Stayton.   In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to the Stayton Eagles Booster Club or the First United Methodist Church in Stayton.  The family wishes to thank the caring staff at Bonaventure of Salem. Serving the family is North Santiam Funeral Service, Stayton.


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