Obituary: Donald Daniel McVey


Don McVey passed away of a massive heart attack at 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 23 at the North Idaho Advanced Care Hospital in Post Falls, Idaho.

Don was born on Sept. 15, 1934 to Jack and Adeline McVey in Ronan, Mont.

Don spent a good percentage of his youth farmed out to farmers and ranchers to help with the haying and the everyday chores. Nobody seemed to have had much money in those days, but from the stories he’s told of his youth he seems to have had a young life full of horses, goats, dogs, chores and chocolate cakes (his personal favorite) and happy stories of  the wonderful people who took him in. His workaholic nature was in evidence even as a youth: he established area records for haying and the land owners vied for hiring him.

Don married three times in his lifetime: first he married his high school sweetheart, Donna Mae Carey of Charlo, Mont., in 1953, and they had two children Denies (born 1960) and Douglas (1962). They married while Don was in the Navy. After his military years Don ended up attending Kinman Business College in Spokane and working part-time in a sawmill to make ends meet. Don and Donna Mae were both too young for the marriage to survive so after divorcing, Donna Mae went on to meet and marry her soul-mate, Jim, in 1976. Sadly, Donna passed away in October of 2011. Besides the children and the friendship, another bonus of Don’s first marriage was his in-laws, the fabulous Carey clan whom he kept on and shared as relatives through the years.

Little is known about Don’s second marriage to Hilda T. other than that the relationship was a very unhappy one: Don’s youngest son Daniel who was born of this union lives in Jacksonville, Fla.

Don married his third wife Michelle (nee Simmons) in 1989. They shared nearly 25 years of happiness. Since both of them had wed numerous times and could have been considered “marriage practitioners,” they each considered themselves lucky to have finally found someone who unconditionally loved them and was their better halves.

Don was preceded in death by his parents and step-parents his grandson Zach, who was lost to a tragic incident in September of 2004.

Don is survived by his sister Jackie Engle, of Happy Valley, Ore.

Don is also survived by his son Doug, of Sacramento, Calif., and his daughter, Denies, of Camptonville, Calif.

He is also survived by his grandchildren Cooper and Kourtney (Shane) Wilde, of Olivehurst, Calif., and their children Dylan, Dorian, Andrea and Kyra.

Don is also survived by Dan’s children and grandchild, Daniel, Jr., Andrea, and Zoe, respectively.

Other “Children of Don’s heart” who were loved by him and who will miss him terribly are his son-in-law Allen Yelton and his step-children, Sonja and Tristan Horte.

Dan’s half-sister Debbie had a special place in Don’s heart also.

Anyone who knew Don through or after his working years knew of his passion for sawmilling. Oh the stories; everyone was “Tiger” and “If things were too tough for you, they were just right for me,” and the solution to every problem was “patience, perseverance and sweet oil”.

Those in the sawmill industry who hadn’t yet met him had heard of him. He was lucky enough to have discovered sawmill work as a young adult, and was also fortunate enough to have had mentors along the way who recognized his talent, his thirst for knowledge and his incredible work ethic:  they encouraged him by giving him the opportunity to learn all aspects of his trade, from booming logs to management, and this allowed him to go on to design and build state-of-the-art sawmills in Passadumkeag, Maine and Prince George, British Columbia.

His proudest achievement was the construction of Lakeland Mills in Prince George and having “his mill” go on to win the Canadian Award of Excellence.  He managed to tour sawmills throughout the U.S., Canada, Germany and Scandinavia during his life and career, and to meet sawmill managers from all over the world in his “own” mills.

His last job came post-retirement when as a sawmill consultant he went to Russia for a year at the turn of the millennium .

The true secret to Don’s success as a manager was his ability to see the potential in every single individual and to make each of them feel like a vital cog in the machine: everyone who worked alongside or for him wanted to do their best so as to not disappoint him … if they messed up he would make them jump in the “rig” and go for a ride around the log yard and have a little chat. His effect on people was rather uncanny:  He loved people and they in turn loved him.   

Don lived in Saratoga from the 1990s until 2007 and was employed at the Louisiana Pacific sawmill.


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