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Former Clackamas County parole officer Karin Morey dies May 31 after receiving Daughters of the American Revolution honors

Karin Morey, an Oregon City resident best known for her contributions to compiling Clackamas County's history, died suddenly May 31 at the age of 69.COURTESY PHOTO: DAR - Oregon City resident Karin Morey accepted an award last year from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Former OC Chamber Executive Director Amber Holveck called Morey "a historical great, an intelligent woman and a spitfire who loved her community."

According to her son, Morey collapsed at home during the evening of May 27 and never woke up, dying in Providence Portland Hospital's intensive care unit. She reported testing positive for COVID on May 13, but said on May 24 that "congestion still bad, sore throat started today, but any need for other than standard over-the-counter medication hasn't shown."

Morey's extensive contributions to Clackamas County spanned decades. Starting as a volunteer library aide in second grade, Morey continued her public service as one of the first women to be appointed as a parole officer in Clackamas County, where she worked full-time for 25 years between 1978-2003 until the age of 50.

Morey then returned to work half-time for another seven years at the Parole & Probation office. After her second retirement, she worked for the OC Chamber between 2010-15 as an information specialist and membership coordinator, but her real title was "jack of all trades" and "right hand to the executive director," according to Ray Stobie, chair of the OC Chamber Board.

"She did everything that the chamber needed, but I always felt when I talked with her that her true love was Oregon City's history," Stobie said. "She always acted as a resource for anyone who needed help finding out about local history or dealing with city or county government."

In 2017, Morey was named Oregon City citizen of the year. This honor came for her countless hours spent transcribing the handwritten notes of Oregon City elected officials' meetings from the 1800s to the early 1900s, ensuring the records are now archived and searchable for future research.

In September 2021, the countywide Susannah Lee Barlow Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution awarded Morey with the Women in American History award, honoring her significant contributions to historical preservation, education and patriotism.

Morey said she could trace her ancestry back to before the Mayflower in both her biological and adoptive families. Born in Portland, she was the eldest of two adopted daughters, graduating from Rex Putnam High School in 1971.

In encouraging women of all ages and backgrounds to become researchers, Morey recommended that budding historians network with other people who are interested in the past.

"You pick a topic, confer with other people on resources and dig in," Morey told Pamplin Media Group last year. "Libraries have staff that can help you use their resources."

Morey's death creates a vacancy on Oregon City's Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and as vice-chair of the Rivercrest Neighborhood Association. Morey also has been a member of the Citizen Involvement Committee, the Friends of the OC Library Board and the OC Woman's Club.

Fellow OC Woman's Club member Sheila Wilson said Morey will be missed for overseeing the club's webpage and providing historical information on the early members of the club to help celebrate Women's History Month. Wilson remembers eagerly awaiting the opportunity to hear Morey deliver one of her several historical lectures that were in popular demand on early women and families in Oregon City. Oregon history is part of Wilson's life, since her family came across the country on a wagon train in 1852.

"She did a significant amount of research, and when she shared what she learned, it was informative and brought humor to the presentation," Wilson said.

Morey regularly volunteered to dress in period clothing and stroll through Mountain View Cemetery during Oregon City Heritage Days celebrations, telling visitors the stories of founding families buried on the grounds.

Morey previously worked as the volunteer curator at the Clackamas County Historical Society's Museum of the Oregon Territory for several years.

Oregon City's official newsletter's "Cemetery Celebrity" section got a quarterly boost from Morey as she contributed information on pioneers and interesting people buried there. Through her efforts, historic women were incorporated into this section along with men.

In 2018, Morey identified the need to honor William Collier, a 21-year-old WWI veteran buried at Mountain View Cemetery. Collier was an orphan when he entered WWI; he died in Oregon City in 1922 with no family to request a headstone for him.

Morey submitted the application to U.S. Veterans Affairs, with the endorsement of the cemetery, and received approval for a headstone. In 2019, Morey and the members of VFW Post 1324, arranged a Memorial Day dedication to his memory, honoring his service and the new placement of his headstone.

Morey and a fellow member of the Friends of Mountain View Cemetery group surveyed and documented graves and headstone conditions in the three oldest sections of the cemetery. She also researched the people in a newer area, Section L, documenting their known history, and updating Find-A-Grave.

Morey's accomplishments as a historian were especially impressive given that she was largely self-taught. She received an associate's degree in general studies from Clackamas Community College in the 1970s, and she took Oregon and world history courses at local universities. She researched and wrote two, two-hour presentations highlighting Oregon City's Pioneer Women and the city's 100 Years of Literary Ladies from 1860 to 1960.

Morey's published books include "Oregon City Floods," "Old Oregon City" and "Oregon's Civil War: Meade Post #2, Grand Army of the Republic." Her work has been displayed at the Museum of the Oregon Territory and also is available on her blog and Facebook sites.

Morey's passion for research launched her into a yearlong project as the co-author of "On This Day in Clackamas County." The book contains over 800 entries, each event double-verified and cited.

Morey is survived by her son, Ryan, and hundreds of Oregon City friends and acquaintances. A celebration of Morey's life has been scheduled for 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, at the Pioneer Center.

Cookies and coffee will be served, and attendees are encouraged to bring their memories to share. Donations in Morey's memory are encouraged to World Central Kitchen (wck.org/donate) or to the Clackamas County Historical Society, 211 Tumwater Drive, Oregon City OR 97045.


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