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Raymond Lee AustinMarch 27, 1933 ~ April 21, 2017 (age 84)
A celebration of life for Raymond Lee Austin, 84, of Florence (formerly of Coos Bay) will be held at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, August 12, at the Florence Church of the Nazarene, 1536 12th St.
Born in Dewey, OK to Martha and Herbert Austin, Ray was 1 of 14 children. The family came to Oregon in search of work during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s when Ray was 3. They first settled in the Coquille Valley and then later in Coos Bay.
Soon after graduating from Marshfield High School in 1951, Ray went to work in the logging industry where he later worked as a timber faller. Over the years, he worked for Weyerhaeuser and several gyppo outfits throughout the South Coast region; working in some of the most dangerous and unforgiving situations found. He survived being crushed by a tree once as well driving off a 350-foot cliff to avoid hitting three young men riding motorcycles on a logging road up Marlow Creek.
After meeting on a blind date, Ray married the love of his life Dollie Noah and quickly started a family which brought him great pride. Fielding five young and many times multi-sport athletes, Ray supported all their activities with enthusiasm and joy. Ray was an athlete in his own right as he participated in football, track and baseball. He was an avid sports fan and followed the Marshfield Pirates, Siuslaw Vikings and especially the Oregon Ducks! In 2015, his family took him on the road trip of a lifetime – a bucket list trip - when they traveled to Pasadena to watch the Ducks beat Florida State in the Rose Bowl (1st ever NCAA College Football Playoff)!
Ray was a true patriot! In the early 1950s, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and later became a member of the Oregon National Guard Reserves. He was a longtime member of the Eagles and Elks lodges and was an Elk of the Month recipient for his dedicated service to the community.
Adventures were plentiful in Ray’s life and competition was in his blood. In his younger years, he was well known at the local race tracks for driving his car the “Little Atom.” He traveled around the state competing in various events at logging shodeos. Competing well into his 50’s, Ray was known for his signature red and white polyester ensemble that he donned on many occasion. He attained top accolades in the sport. Running log boom, chopping, power sawing, hand sawing, and even axe throwing, Ray could do them all! He was a real life “All-Around Logger.”
His talents were broad as he was skilled in many areas. Whether building a home or creating the jet pack prototype for Disney’s Rocketeer movie - he could do it all! With pencil, pad and a tape measure in hand he would go to work and bring his creations to life. Never sitting still too long, even after retiring from the woods, he worked at Cuthbert’s JGS Precision Tool in Sumner and then with his longtime logging partner Ace Morgan at Ace’s Saw Shop where his talents building hot saws and chain sharpening were sought out by many.
Hard work and helping others was second nature for Ray. He helped many over the years guiding them, teaching them his trade, getting firewood for those in need, cutting brush and trees for neighbors, and in the later years volunteering at the Elks Lodge in Florence and cutting box tops for local schools.
The love for the outdoors was evident in Ray’s adventures fishing, hunting, and flying airplanes. From hunting mule deer in eastern Oregon to sturgeon fishing on the Rogue to the thrill of being in an airplane - he enjoyed it all. He loved the joy that being outdoors brought. Whether it was a hunting trip, sitting on the bank on a cold winter day trying to catch the elusive steelhead, or taking his family deep into the woods on scary little logging roads to show them his work up close, it didn’t matter – he was outdoors! He loved driving through the forest scoping out the next old growth to take and soaring above the tree tops.
Dancing was a love both Ray and Dollie shared. The pair were magnificent dancers. They floated across the floor to any tune played. The prize from a dance contest they once entered at the Coos Bay Eagles was a whopping $5 each! Although health issues prevented them from dancing the past several years, their sweet sense of humor and love for one another never faded in their 64 years of marriage. Playful as teenagers, they could make their kids and grandchildren smile with envy and blush at the same time.
Even though they he only lived in the Florence area a short while, Ray made many wonderful friends there and his longtime friends and “cronies” on the South Coast were cherished deeply.
Surrounded by his family on a beautiful spring afternoon, Ray passed peacefully joining his parents; brothers Robert, Richard and George; sisters Alma, Alta, Beverly, Goldie, Laura and Margaret; grandchildren Rick and Jayme; and, less than three weeks later, his older brother Wendell.
Ray is survived by his loving wife, Dollie; children, Alice Burns (Jim), Dan (Elaine), Rick (Martha), Don, and Deb Nicholls (Tom); and sisters, Barbara and Bernice Bishop and brother Darrel. God graced Ray with a large and loving family of 24 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild.
He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. A teacher, mentor and confidant, Ray will be greatly missed. To the best “old growth” created … we miss you, but know you can now run through the woods again!!!
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Ray’s name to The Friends of Florence Cancer Patient Van, PO Box 598, Florence, OR 97439.
Arrangements are under the care of Coos Bay Chapel, 541-267-3131.
Friends and family are encouraged to sign the online guestbook.