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Former school principal, Habitat founder dies at 89

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 12th, 2013

Jess O. Young died from prostate cancer March 8, 2013, at the age of 89.

He was born on Feb. 14, 1924, to an Oregon pioneer family in Rieith, Ore. He spent his early years there and graduated from Pendleton High School. He served in the U.S. Navy, from 1942 to 1946, during World War II, as a radar man on a destroyer in the Pacific.

After leaving the military, he attended Eastern Oregon College, where he met his wife-to-be, Esther Shaker. The pair were married on Sept. 7, 1947.

Upon graduating, Jess began a teaching career in Athena, Ore., and continued his education, earning a master’s degree in education. After three years as a teacher and principal in Cannon Beach and one year in Irrigon, he and Esther and their children moved to Florence. He was the principal of the elementary school from 1961 to 1982, when he retired from education administration.

He served as Boy Scout master for many years and is remembered for his troop’s Native American dancers. An avid fisherman and hunter, he also served as a hunter safety instructor. One of his hobbies was woodworking and for some time he and Esther traveled around the country selling his hand-crafted toys at shows as well as donating them for charity auctions.

He later put his carpentry skills to work for the Florence Habitat for Humanity, helping raise funds and build houses for at least a dozen families. He worked for many years coordinating volunteers and contract labor and materials for Habitat.

Jess continued working with Habitat construction crews until the last few years.

“He was always willing to do whatever was needed,” said long-time friend and Habitat co-worker Don Stewart.

He was active in the Florence Christian Church, serving as a teacher, elder and elder emeritus until his passing.

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For the complete article see the 03-13-2013 issue.

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