Obituary of Wallace "Wally" Caviness
Wallace, “Wally” or “Coach Caviness” was born on September 17, 1940, to Ernest and Edith Caviness in Mason City, Washington. He passed away on Friday, March 3, 2017, in Bellingham, Washington. Wally was the youngest of seven children growing up in the Grand Coulee area where his father worked as a carpenter on The Grand Coulee Dam.
Wally followed the family traditions of hunting, fishing and playing all the sports. He was an outstanding athlete, organized the Columbia School Junior High Track Team in 1952 and quarterbacked his high school team to an Okanogan County Championship in 1957. He graduated from Coulee Dam High in 1958 and from Eastern Washington University in 1963.
After college, he spent the next 4yrs as an officer in the 4th Armored Division in Crailsheim and Geoppingen, Germany. In the summer of 1966 he relocated back near his childhood roots for three years to teach and coach in Bridgeport, WA.
He continued this love of athletics in Bellingham, WA at Whatcom Middle School until 1988 where many of his teams and students won inter city track meets and set new city records. It was during this time, that Wally took his love of track and passion for coaching to a Legacy level and created the Northwest Washington Striders from 1969-1987. He started the club to give kids summer sports activity and opportunities throughout the year, all youth were welcome. Members could qualify for local, regional, state, national, world and Olympic championships. By 1984 the Striders nurtured 7 National Jesse Owens Champions, 4 State Champions and several Junior Olympic Nationals. Additionally each year, Wally and his Striders hosted a 1,000 entry 3day International track meet. In 1984 Wally also had the honor of being elected President of the North, East, West and South Track Conference.
His passion for ranching and animals simultaneously gained momentum alongside his sports teams and in 1987 he founded the Bellingham Wildlife Sanctuary, home to cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, swans, buffalo, Texas longhorns, peacocks, pheasants and the exotic birds - ostriches and emus over the years. He was a pioneer raiser of Emu’s and a prominent resource in the industry on the incubating of their eggs.
Wally enjoyed all kinds of competitions, games of luck, chance and cards. He also played a hand at dealing Blackjack and Roulette for 8 ½ years at Nooksack River Casino.
In 1975 Wally married LeeAnn who provided that consistent source of love, encouragement and support (and clean up!) for a man with such big endeavors, and enjoyed them right alongside him.
Later in life, Wally became fascinated with family history and spent many hours researching lineage, reaching out to distant relatives and traveling the country to find cousins and family grave sites. He took a special interest in his Native American heritage (originating from his mother’s side) and also the inhabitants that lived near where he was born.
Wally loved his experience of family. He admired and looked up to his siblings. They modeled and motivated him to reach, achieve and strive for the best. It’s easy to see that Wally continued to create “family” via friends, relatives, teams, herds and flocks everywhere he went. He is predeceased by his mother, father, brothers Bob, Ernie, and Jimmy. He is survived by his loving and dedicated wife of 41 years LeeAnn, 3 siblings: brothers Ray and Herm and sister Patsy, many nieces, nephews and cousins, sons Tim and Scott, daughters Kim and Kileen, 5 Grand Children: Tiffany, Andrew, Cole, Drew, and Wyatt, 7 Great Grandchildren: Taryn, James, Ethan, TJ, Tanner, Lydia, and Temperance.
A Celebration of Life for Wally will be held 1pm Saturday, April 8th, 2017 at GreenAcres Memorial Park 5700 Northwest Drive, Ferndale, WA 98248 with light reception to follow onsite