On Thursday, November 10th, 2016, Roger Lee Stansbury, 72, sang his last song in this life. Roger was a summer baby, born in Omak, Washington on July 15, 1944 to Raleigh and Elizabeth (Barber) Stansbury.
He grew up nearby on the family farm in Riverside, Wash. After graduating from Tonasket High School in 1962 he attended Central Washington State College and earned his B.A. in Education in 1966. Four years later he received an M.A. in Music and later, an M. A. in Counseling.
Through mutual love of four-part harmony, Roger met the love of his life, Kathleen Tobey in 1970. Soon afterward he hit the road where he wrote and recorded “A Cycle of 7 Songs, for Kathleen, Who Brought Me ‘Out of My Sorrows.’” They married in Yakima, Wash. on March 21st, 1971 at the First Baptist Church of Yakima.
Over the years, Roger became a well-loved teacher, counselor, mentor, and friend. He built a rich teaching career as a choir and music director at Selah High School and Junior High (where he received the “Outstanding Youth Educator Award” in 1966), Davis High School, West Valley High School, Bothell High School, Eisenhower High School and Wapato Middle School. Jazz choirs under his direction won the Mt. Hood Jazz contest each time they competed. He officially retired in 1997, but continued teaching and subbing until a month before his death! Four terms he served as the President of the Yakima Valley Music Educators Association and one term as the Choral Representative of WMEA where he won the “Outstanding Music Educator” award in 1990. That excellence was his aim with his choirs. Students fondly recall his mantra: “Any Stoop Can Get the Second Note!”
Roger spent most of his life directing choirs and musicals, as well as performing in many musical productions. He is best known for his legendary performance as Don Quixote, the lead in “Man of La Mancha,” which he played two different times and for which he won a Winnie Award for Best Actor in 1979. Other productions he starred in include: “Wonderful Town,” “South Pacific,” “The Fantasticks,” “Music Man,” “Camelot,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “1776.”
In addition to directing school choirs, Roger was active in Yakima Valley churches, directing and singing in choirs at First Baptist Church of Yakima, First Christian Church Yakima and Wesley United Methodist Church.
Roger brought back the Yakima Men’s Chorus, Camerata Club, after 20 years of silence and directed the group for over 20 years. He also directed the SPEBSQSA (barbershop) group for many years.
Roger also served the Yakima Valley by working as a guardian ad litem for the CASA program for 20 plus years and was a foster parent for DSHS and Casey Family, always ready to open his heart and home to those in need.
He joined Yakima School of Karate in 1990 with two of his children where he later earned a black belt. He trained until earlier this year.
Roger was a family man who helped raise six children and babysat scads of grandchildren. He loved to take the family on adventures in the trailer or go camping. At home he was infamous for embarrassing his kids at slumber parties. His children learned from him to follow their dreams, show respect, love people and sing proudly. Stubborn as a mule, he wasn’t about to be overcome by Leukemia in 2003, surviving with the help of his brother, David, who donated stem cells for transplant.
He was a man of music and faith and marched to the beat of his own drum. His absence will be felt all over this valley, but especially among his family members who loved him so.
He is preceded in death by his parents Raleigh and Elizabeth Stansbury. And is survived by his wife, Kathie Stansbury; children – Heather Clark (Nick Clark), Krystal Yates (Jason Yates), Tobey Stansbury (Reina Stansbury), Hollie Moyer (Eli Moyer), Mo’Ree Thomas (David Thomas), and Mo’Lin Short (Gary Short); grandchildren – Jaime, DJ, Bethany, Bradley, Reina, Kassidy, Cyler, Peyton, Maria, Koben, Keegan, Jeshurun, Javen, Ryken, Lily, and Aurora; great grandchildren – Ryleigh, Tucker, Emily, Gage, and Athena; and Siblings – Larry Stansbury (Judy Stansbury), Linda Fowler (Fred Fowler), Heidi Schmidt (Keith Schmidt), and David Stansbury (Lois Stansbury).
Many thanks to Dr. Roger Vielbig and Lisa Apple, and the staff at Good Samaritan who made Roger’s last days more comfortable.
A viewing will be on Friday November 18th from 5-9 p.m. at Shaw & Sons Funeral Home. On Saturday the 19th, there will be a celebration of life at Davis High School Auditorium, 212 S. 6th Ave., Yakima, at 1 p.m. followed by a reception. Tributes can be made to www.cureSMA.org, or to the Union Gospel Mission.
To share memories and condolences, visit www.shawandsons.com.
Roger Lee Stansbury