June 19, 1960 - September 28, 2020
Born June 19, 1960, in La Grande, Oregon, to Willard K. Carey and Audrey Lane Carey, Natalie was a graduate of La Grande High School, Cottey College and the University of Oregon. She understood the importance of kindness and patience, and spent her professional career teaching special education in Oregon, Arizona, and truly anywhere life took her. She married Bradley T. Payne in 1989, and together they created a beautiful son, Steven Thomas Payne, before their divorce in 2001. Natalie continued to co-parent and raise her son with the support of her family and her incredible community.
She was an honor student in high school, a Worthy Advisor in the Order of Rainbow for Girls, a rock climber with the LHS outdoor climbing club, a performer in choirs and plays and a Senior Girl Scout. Natalie was a dedicated member of her college sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, and P.E.O. member of Chapter CL in Palm Desert, chapters in Baker City and Phoenix, and served as president of Chapter DK in La Grande.
Prior to her senior year of college, she spent the summer traveling in Europe with her brother Bob and worked as a counselor at the Ascension Summer Camps in Cove, the same place where Steve would eventually spend his summers, as both a camper and a counselor. She taught special education in Union and Baker City, Oregon, and Scottsdale, Arizona. When life decided it was time for her to retire from teaching, she continued volunteering at Central Elementary School in La Grande, and tutored home-schooled students at La Grande public library.
In 2010, she moved to Palm Desert with her mother and son, where she supported Steve during his high school years and enjoyed the sunshine that she loved so much. During her time there, she was active in the Braille Institute, the Neuro Vitality Center, and as always, continued to make meaningful friendships within her community. After her son’s high school graduation, she enjoyed the snowbird lifestyle, spending her summers in Oregon with her son and the cooler months with her mother and stepfather in California. Natalie wrote her college thesis on faith, and believed in living a life of integrity by treating all she met with equality. She was a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in La Grande and St. Margaret of the Desert Episcopal Church in Palm Desert. In the spring of 2019, she permanently returned to La Grande where she was lovingly and tenderly cared for by her son, Steve, and his partner, Collete.
She was predeceased by her father, MG Bill Carey; her grandparents, Robert R. and Julia Carey, Howard and Beatrice Lane, and nephew, Jack Carey. Natalie passed away peacefully in her home the evening of September 28th, surrounded by loved ones.
Her presence and memory will be carried on by everyone she met, because of her tenacity and the quality of her soul. Her legacy lives on through her family: her son, Steven T. Payne, and his father, Brad T. Payne; her brothers, Willard A. Carey and Robert L. Carey and his wife, Nicole; her mother, Audrey Carey; her stepfather, Tom Hippensteele, and his family; nephews, Brendan, John and Charley Carey; and many beloved cousins.
Natalie was an inspiration to all who knew her. Despite any physical limitations, she saw only opportunity and lived a life of humor and grace.
A celebration of life will be held at Riverside Park Pavilion on Sunday, October 11th, at 11 a.m. A funeral will be announced at a later date.
Donations may be sent to the PEO Foundation or the EOU Major General Willard K. Carey Scholarship. Memorials for the family can be sent to Loveland Funeral Chapel, 1508 Fourth St., La Grande OR, 97850.