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Benjamin Archie McVay

January 23, 1921 April 23, 2016
Benjamin Archie McVay
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Obituary for Benjamin Archie McVay
Archie McVay
Lifetime Harbor resident Benjamin “Archie” McVay passed away Saturday, April 23, 2016, at his home, which overlooks the Port of Brookings Harbor. He was 95 years old.
Archie was born in Dr. Stump’s office in Brookings on Jan. 23, 1921, son of pioneer family Benjamin “Bud” and Lottie (Gardner) McVay. He grew up on the Harbor bench family homestead, farming and ranching. Archie often reminisced about visiting his uncle, Erasmus Gardner, who lived at the mouth of Eagle Creek on the Chetco River. He acquired a lifelong passion for hunting and fishing from his “Uncle Ras.” Throughout his life, this passion would take him to several states, as well as Canada, Mexico, China and Mongolia.
Archie joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1942, soon after World War II started. His time in the service was spent in the Pacific Theater. He was first stationed on a small patrol boat at Cascade Locks on the Columbia River. There he was awarded the Coast Guard Silver Lifesaving Medal for rescuing a fisherman who had fallen into the river. Soon after, he was transferred to LST 762 as a cook and 20 millimeter gunner. The LST — or as Archie affectionately referred to as a “large slow target” — landed the 4th Marine Division on Blue Beach, Okinawa. Later, they picked up the Marines from the First Strike Radar Group for deployment to Sa Sabo, the port city of Nagasaki, Japan. In route, the atomic bombs were dropped, ending the war. He and the rest of the ship’s crew spent the next 60 days, in and around Nagasaki, witnessing the mass devastation.
After the war, Archie returned to the dairy ranch in Harbor, and on April 29, 1946, married his high school sweetheart, Doris Drake. Together they raised seven children on the dairy ranch at the mouth of the Chetco River which later would become the Port of Brookings Harbor.
Archie was a visionary and entrepreneur, willing to risk his capital and hardwork ethic to make his vision of a port at the mouth of the Chetco a reality. Archie and Doris donated the land at the current site of the U.S. Coast Guard station as well as additional land donated to the port district. This was done so federal funds would be available to build the jetty system and develop a safe harbor. Throughout the years along with the dairy, he ran a slaughterhouse, received and processed fish, built a restaurant, operated a charter fishing boat business, and established a lumber and wood chip shipping operation.
Archie was instrumental, along with other local businessmen, in helping to raise matching funds needed to build the Good Samaritan Center in Brookings, where he remained as a board member for nearly 30 years. He was a lifetime member of the NRA and a member of the Brookings Elks Lodge 1934. He was a valued member of the Chetco Valley Historical Society as he so often was able to accurately provide historical information and anecdotal stories of the area.
Archie and his beloved wife Doris had many memorable adventures including building a vacation home at Bahia Concepcion, Baja California, with their friends Don and Marge Horton and Ray and June Nidiffer. Archie drew much satisfaction and enjoyment from the plentiful garden he grew every year and was happy to share with family, neighbors and friends. “No one could grow a tomato like Archie!” He also had a customized smokehouse where he spent endless hours attending and enjoyed making smoked salmon and jerky, which he gladly shared.
Archie was preceded in death by his parents; his half brothers Winfield Robison and Ralph Atwood; and Doris, his wife of 67 years.
He is survived by his seven children: Sidney (Ardith) McVay, Rocky (Jeanette) McVay, Dawn (Ray) Heysell, Pat (Patty) McVay, Mike (Susan) McVay, Molly McVay (Steven King), Mary (David) Elrod. A special place in his heart was held by Rollie Jefferies and Cande Nukala, very close family friends. He is also survived by 23 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
As a member of the Greatest Generation, Archie, our dad, grandpa and great-grandpa was a special man and will be sincerely missed. Long after we are gone, the community will continue to enjoy his contributions to help make Brookings-Harbor a beautiful and wonderful place to live.
A funeral service is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, May 14 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1200 Easy Street, Brookings, and will be officiated by Pastor Matt Steendahl. A reception at the church will follow with private interment at Ward Memorial Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Chetco Valley Historical Society, P.O. Box 2004, Brookings, OR 97415.
Submitted by the family.
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2:00 PM 5/14/2016 2:00:00 PM
Trinity Lutheran Church

1200 Easy Street;
P.O. Box 1199
Brookings, OR 97415

Trinity Lutheran Church
1200 Easy Street; Brookings 97415 OR
United States

Cemetery Details


W.J. Ward Memorial Cemetery Final Resting Place

1035 7th Street
Brookings, OR 97415

1035 7th Street Brookings 97415 OR
United States

Memorial Contribution

Chetco Valley Historical Society

P.O. Box 2004
Brookings, OR 97415

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