Some new beginnings and some untimely ends

Editorial Gary MugFirst off let me say “no” I didn’t feel the earthquake Tuesday. Although it was pretty close, I usually miss them. Charlene felt it and came to work asking if we had. Our question was, what earthquake? The last real earthquake I felt was in the 1960s in Seattle. Most of the ones around here go unnoticed by me. I do appreciate the calls from friends on the “Coast” who asked me how I was doing afterwards.

By the time you read this kids will be back in school and while the cooler weather and the rain has helped to aide the firefighting efforts throughout the state – I’m not sure I’m ready for summer to end.

While I’ve been through it all before, I got to watch as the step kids got ready to start school – a daughter in high school, no longer a freshman, and a son, who is out of the elementary building and transitioning into junior high. The high schoolers at last Monday’s open house seemed to have it pretty well together, while the biggest challenge for the new junior high kids seemed to be figuring out how to operate the combination on their lockers.

While I enjoyed high school I don’t think you could pay me to go back, even if it meant not making the same mistakes this time around. I’d probably just make new ones. Don’t get me wrong, some of the best friends a guy could ever have were made right here in Oroville – in high school and grade school, but once was enough. I’m definitely not one of those that longs for the so-called glory days. Maybe mine just weren’t as glorious as others.

We lost a couple of great teachers this week – Wally Moore in Tonasket and Garry Sorensen in Oroville. Being from Oroville I never had Mr. Moore for a teacher and he retired the year I graduated, but I’ve seen and heard first hand what a great influence he had on his band and choir students. I’ve covered what you would call alumni concerts under his direction that were very impressive. I couldn’t believe so many adults were still playing their instruments years later after having him as a teacher. Most of the people I had with me in band no longer even try to play.

What can I say about Garry Sorensen, or Garry as he insisted I call him. You know how it is – how it seems so strange addressing your former teachers by their first names. He was a lot of Oroville kids’ biology teacher. He was somewhat strict, but a great teacher – able to fill the minds of “a bunch of bloody cabbage heads,” as he once referred to us. Being from Canada originally, we would razz him when the occasional “eh” slipped out. When he quit smoking he always had a matchstick or a toothpick hanging out of his mouth. I felt lots of kids were going to miss out when he retired from teaching and started farming instead. As an adult I enjoyed getting to know him better and sharing the occasional beer at Alpine.

I also lost my neighbor Dennis Barnett this weekend. He was a great neighbor, always willing to lend a hand or dog sit for me when I was out of town. He had a good sense of humor and at only 58, was too young to die.

It can be a hard thing seeing all the obituaries come in to the newspaper each week. As this week’s obituary page attests, it seems we lost a lot of friends and acquaintances at the end of last month. Our sympathies and prayers go out to their families.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.