La Grande, Oregon
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Willard K. “Bill” Carey, 71, of La Grande, died May 17, 2001, of lung cancer at his brother’s home in Lake Oswego.
A memorial service with full military honors will be Saturday at noon at the La Grande National Guard Armory, 404 12th St.
Mr. Carey was born Nov. 27, 1929, at La Grande to Robert R. and Julia Hopkins Carey. He was president of his senior class (1947) at La Grande High School, earned a junior college certificate at Eastern Oregon College (now Eastern Oregon University), and earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Oregon in 1952, where he served as student body president and president of his social fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. He earned a doctor of jurisprudence degree from Willamette University College of Law in 1956.
On July 4, 1959, he married Audrey Ann Lane in Davenport, Wash. He practiced law in La Grande for 44 years and was the senior partner in the law firm of Carey, Joseph and Mendiguren. He served on the board of governors of the Oregon State Bar from 1972-75 and had been a vestryman and senior warden of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. In the 1960s he co-sponsored Canterbury, an Episcopal college student group that met in his home weekly for four years.
Mr. Carey was a gentle man who quietly led, accomplished much, and deeply believed in helping people, all with the goal of making his community and nation a better place to live and make a living. He was a generous host, loved to entertain, enjoyed the camaraderie of his friends and was a proud and loving husband, father and grandfather.
He began his service to the Army National Guard in 1948 as an enlisted soldier. At the time he received his promotion to brigadier general at the age of 44, he was the youngest fully recognized brigadier general in the Army National Guard of the United States.
At the time of his promotion to major general he was only the second federally recognized part-time major general of the line in the history of the Oregon Army National Guard. His final duty assignment was as deputy commanding general for reserve components Sixth United States Army, Presidio, Calif., where he was responsible for the training and supervision of more than 100,000 men and women in the Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserve in 12 western states.
He served a term as president of the National Guard Association of Oregon. He served 12 years on the NGAUS executive council with headquarters in Washington, D.C., representing 13 western states and Guam. He was appointed by the Secretary of the Army to serve on the Armed Forces Reserve Policy Board in Washington, D.C. He was selected as the first member of the Oregon Hall of Fame of the 186th Infantry Regiment and in 1955 was inducted into the 41st Infantry Brigade Hall of Honor.
Mr. Carey was the first president of the Eastern Oregon University Foundation (1966-70) and served on its board through 1982. He served on the La Grande Industrial Development Corporation board for 20 years and as its president from 1975-82. He also served on the board of the Union County Economic Development Corporation. He spent more than 15 years on the board of Anthony lakes Ski Corporation was was its president from 1977-82. He was a former president of the Union-Wallowa County Bar Association. As president of the La Grande-Union County Chamber of Commerce from 1963-64, he negotiated with Boise TV to provide a local broadcasting station in La Grande, and he brought the first women into the chamber by forming an arts committee, which quickly grew into the current Regional Arts Council. His Chamber of Commerce committee annexed 1,500 citizens, 700 acres of land and $10 million in additional assessed valuation into the city to surpass the economically and politically significant 10,000 population mark.
Mr. Carey served for 19 years on the Grande Ronde Hospital board of trustees, the last two as chairman, before stepping down to becoming president of the Grande Ronde Development Corporation. He served as campaign chairman of the United Way of Union County and followed that for many years as a one-man committee for advanced gifts that consistently raised more than one-third of the total annual donations. He was a former member of the board of directors of the University of Oregon, taught business law at Eastern Oregon University for three years, and in the 1950s served on the board of the Blue Mountain Girl Scouts Council. For many years after his military retirement he was the Eastern Oregon area chairman for Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Mr. Carey was president of the 30,000-member Vacation Internationale (now Sunterra Pacific) Time Share Owners Association and served on its board of directors from 1992-98. In 1982, Eastern Oregon University honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Award. He was twice recognized with the Jaycees Distinguished Services Award and was named Man of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in 1966 and 1986.
Mr. Carey is survived by his wife, Audrey, of La Grande; his daughter, Natalie Carey-Payne of La Grande; sons, Bob and Will and their wives, Caroline and Julie, all of Portland; a brother, Robert H. Carey of Lake Oswego; grandsons, John, Brendan and Jack Carey, all of Portland, and Steven Payne of La Grande; his mother-in-law, Beatrice Lane of La Grande; six nieces and nephews and other relatives, and many, many friends.
Contributions in Mr. Carey’s memory may be made to the Eastern Oregon University MG Willard K. Carey Scholarship Fund, in care of Daniels Chapel of the Valley, 1502 Seventh St., La Grande, OR 97850.
Used with permission from: The Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, June 8, 2001
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor