A memorial service for Banks’ Ray Deeth will be held Saturday, March 12 in Schlegel Hall at Sunset Park in Banks (12765 NW Main Street) from 12 to 4 p.m.
Deeth, a longtime politician, volunteer, and generally influential person in the Banks business and wider community, died December 21, 2021 of heart failure. According to city councilor Marsha Kirk, Deeth’s family opted to wait until his 87th birthday to hold the memorial. Refreshments will be served.
Deeth was a well-known figure to nearly everyone in Banks. Even if they didn’t know his name, a Banks resident would likely have seen him rolling down the street in his famed golf cart.
“Well known as being the “Old fart in the Cart”, Ray helped to renovate the Banks Chamber of Commerce and was one of the Founders of the Banks Historical Society,” Kirk wrote of Deeth.
Ray Deeth’s Golf Cart, parked in front of what was then the Trailhead Cafe on Main Street on August 15, 2018, one of Deeth’s favorite haunts. Photo: Chas Hundley
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Deeth served as a city councilor and eventually as Banks’ mayor, and held numerous volunteer roles throughout his decades living in the Banks area
Before that, Deeth worked with the FBI in Los Angeles and Seattle, according to an interview conducted with Deeth before his death. Prior to his employment with the FBI, he was drafted into the U.S. Army at the close of the Korean War, serving for 18 months before joining the FBI.
It was an eventful 18 months in the military for Deeth, thanks to his role as a guard in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, which serves as the Army’s Presidential Honor Guard, among other roles. In that position, he met then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth, and Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, then King of Saudi Arabia.
During his time as a communications officer with the FBI in Seattle, he said one notable case he worked on was the D.B. Cooper hijacking case in 1971.
“Spoiled my Thanksgiving,” Deeth said. He was sent a few miles southeast of Ariel, Washington, near Lake Merwin to aid in the search for the hijacker, who was never seen again after jumping from his plane.
When he retired and moved to the Banks area, he became involved in the city’s governance upon leaving his Manning-area farm, being appointed to the Banks city council and eventually running for and winning the position of mayor. He also worked in the city’s water department.
“When I moved here, there was 561 people, one being me,” Deeth said.
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He was especially proud of his work in getting the trailhead for the Banks-Vernonia State Trail brought to Banks, and of his work with what would eventually become known as the Banks Chamber of Commerce, which he served as president for years.
“I’m getting to the tail end of life,” Deeth said with a chuckle in 2017 during a conversation. “As long as my health allows me, I will continue to do so,” he said, a statement he backed up with his actions.
Deeth wasn’t afraid to make his point of view known, and he readily accepted that he was an annoyance to some people in power.
When Deeth was awarded the city of Banks’ Banks Citizenship Award in 2014, then-Mayor Pete Edison agreed.
“He has been a friend and a pain in my rear and everything else since I’ve lived here, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving,” Edison said, according to the Oregonian.
“I have enjoyed my volunteering for my whole life,” Deeth said. “If you added up the volunteer hours that I have done, I don’t think you could get ‘em all in,” he said.
“Volunteering helps build character, I say.”