May 23, 2001 11:00 pm

Willard Bill Carey

An officer and a gentleman


Ask people what they remember most about Bill Carey and they are likely to tell you about his stellar military career in the National Guard. Others might mention his commitment to his family. And there are those who recall Careys efforts on behalf of his community. Willard Bill Careys legacy covers all aspects of his life.




All of these mattered to Bill Carey, and his life and legacy will stand as a testimony to his commitment to all three.

Carey, who died Saturday at age 72, left an imprint on everything he touched. He had that kind of personality. That kind of drive.

He was a leader, and nothing reflected that more than his impressive career in the National Guard. He was the epitome of the citizen-soldier.

During a 40-year career in the Guard, he rose through the ranks from private to two-star general. In 1986 he was named deputy commanding general for the reserve components of the 6th U.S. Army, commanding a force of more than 100,000 men and women in 12 western states. He was one of the first guardsmen since World War II to be promoted to such a post. He broke ground for citizen-soldiers who have devoted, as he did, much of their lives to the Army. Appropriately, details of his Guard career are recognized in a permanent display at the National Guard Armory/Blue Mountain Conference Center in La Grande.

He was a true-citizen soldier, said Col. Mike Caldwell, deputy director of the Oregon National Guard.

The military wasnt Careys only driving force. He built a career as a lawyer and enjoyed private practice in La Grande. But somehow, between his career, family and soldiering, he still found time for his community.

Careys contributions to La Grande and Union County resulted in him being named man of the year by the Union County Chamber of Commerce not once, but twice in 1966 and again 20 years later. He was active in Lions, the hospital board and the chamber, just to name a few avenues of his service.

And right there with him through his involvement in the Guard, his career and his community was his family wife Audrey and three children, Natalie, Bob and Will. Carey had said none of what hed done would have been possible without the love and support of his family.

Family. Community. Country. These words and what they mean defined Bill Carey.

He will be missed. But more importantly, he will be remembered.