On Thursday, November 10th, 2016, Roger Lee Stansbury, 72, sang his last song in this life. Roger was a summer baby, born in Omak, WA on July 15th, 1944 to Raleigh and Elizabeth (Barber) Stansbury. He grew up nearby on the family farm in Riverside, WA. After graduating from Tonasket High School in 1962 he attended Central Washington State College and earned his B.A. in Education in 1966. Four years later he received an M.A. in Music and later, an M. A. in Counseling.

Through mutual love of four-part harmony, Roger met the love of his life, Kathleen Tobey in 1970. Soon afterward he hit the road where he wrote and recorded “A Cycle of 7 Songs, for Kathleen, Who Brought Me ‘Out of My Sorrows.’” They married in Yakima on March 21st, 1971 at the First Baptist Church of Yakima.

Over the years, Roger became a well-loved teacher, counselor, mentor, and friend. He built a rich teaching career as a choir and music director at Selah High School and Jr. High (where he received the “Outstanding Youth Educator Award” in 1966), Davis High School, West Valley High School, Bothell High School, Eisenhower High School, and Wapato Middle School. Jazz choirs under his direction won the Mt. Hood Jazz contest each time they competed. He officially retired in 1997, but continued teaching and subbing until a month before his death! Four terms he served as the President of the Yakima Valley Music Educators Association, and one term as the Choral Representative of WMEA where he won the “Outstanding Music Educator” award in 1990. That excellence was his aim with his choirs. Students fondly recall his mantra: “Any Stoop Can Get the Second Note!”

Roger spent most of his life directing choirs and musicals, as well as performing in many musical productions. He is best known for his legendary performance as Don Quixote, the lead in “Man of La Mancha,” which he played two different times and for which he won a Winnie Award for Best Actor in 1979. Other productions he starred in include: “Wonderful Town,” “South Pacific,” “The Fantasticks,” “Music Man,” “Camelot,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “1776.”

In addition to directing school choirs, Roger was active in Yakima Valley churches, directing and singing in choirs at First Baptist Church of Yakima, First Christian Church Yakima, and Wesley United Methodist Church.

Roger brought back the Yakima Men’s Chorus, Camerata Club, after 20 years of silence, and directed the group for over 20 years. He also directed the SPEBSQSA (barbershop) group for many years.

Roger also served the Yakima Valley by working as a guardian ad litem for the CASA program for 20 plus years and was a foster parent for DSHS and Casey Family, always ready to open his heart and home to those in need.

He joined Yakima School of Karate in 1990 with two of his children where he later earned a black belt. He trained until earlier this year.

Roger was a family man who helped raise six children and babysat scads of grandchildren. He loved to take the family on adventures in the trailer or go camping. At home he was infamous for embarrassing his kids at slumber parties. His children learned from him to follow their dreams, show respect, love people, and sing proudly. Stubborn as a mule, he wasn’t about to be overcome by Leukemia in 2003, surviving with the help of his brother, David, who donated stem cells for transplant.

He was a man of music and faith and marched to the beat of his own drum. His absence will be felt all over this valley, but especially among his family members who loved him so.

He is preceded in death by his parents Raleigh and Elizabeth Stansbury. And is survived by his wife, Kathie Stansbury; Children – Heather Clark (Nick Clark), Krystal Yates (Jason Yates), Tobey Stansbury (Reina Stansbury), Hollie Moyer (Eli Moyer), Mo’Ree Thomas (David Thomas), and Mo’Lin Short (Gary Short); Grandchildren – Jaime, DJ, Bethany, Bradley, Reina, Kassidy, Cyler, Peyton, Maria,  Koben, Keegan, Jeshurun, Javen, Ryken, Lily, and Aurora; Great grandchildren – Ryleigh, Tucker, Emily, Gage, and Athena; and Siblings – Larry Stansbury (Judy Stansbury), Linda Fowler (Fred Fowler), Heidi Schmidt (Keith Schmidt), and David Stansbury (Lois Stansbury).

Many thanks to Dr. Roger Vielbig and Lisa Apple, and the staff at Good Samaritan who made Roger’s last days more comfortable. A viewing will be on Friday November 18th from 5-9 pm at Shaw & Sons Funeral Home. On Saturday the 19th, there will be a celebration of life at Davis High School Auditorium, 212 S. 6th Ave., Yakima, at 1pm followed by a reception. Tributes can be made to www.cureSMA.org, or to the Union Gospel Mission.

To share memories and condolences, visit www.shawandsons.com.

(6) entries

Lauren Murphy

to "Sir" with Love - Roger Stansbury was my first Sensi. He did not only teach me music. He taught me how to be a grown up. Every child in my life knows this quote "Time to kill? Work it to death!" This incredibly talented man made the world a better place. I hope he knew how loved his is by so many of us who were forever changed by him. I am sad for all the the people that won't get to know him and I am so very glad that he was part of my life. Thank you for letting me share.
Lauren Murphy (former student Laurie Reese)

Cynthia Wilson

This is the man that I have most loved and admired since I was a teenager. He was my music teacher and he taught me that I was smart and beautiful and talented and, most of all, loved. These are things I didn't know about myself. His love was a shield through hard times and his faith in me made me learn to believe I had value. That young teacher, only 29 years old, came to me in my darkest hour and sat with me in the stall of the ladies' bathroom as I curled up on the toilet seat and sobbed. He gave me the strength to leave that place and continue on. Go with God, darling Roger. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I carry your gifts with me every day.

Bruce Eyer

As a colleague, Roger Stansbury was caring, competent and compassionate. He really cared about children and youth in whatever capacity he was serving. His portrayal of Don Quixote (along with Sancho played by Gary Baisinger) at the Warehouse Theatre was remarkable. My personal thanks for always saying yes to being the team leader for the annual United Way campaign at Davis High School. Bruce Eyer, Longview, WA

Joy Slaven

An amazing man who leaves behind a great heritage in so many ways. God blessed so many through his work.

Violent Force

This hurts so bad. I don't even like looking at the pictures and seeing that he is gone.I DON'T LIKE THIS AT ALL. I guess I never imagined him leaving ever and I don't like it. He gave scouted me at my church at junior high school, every now and then he would just be wherever I was singing. He made it possible for me to be in a high school play "The Wiz" while I was yet in junior high school, once I was at Davis he gave me a song to sing in my junior year "Everything Must Change", he made sure I never changed my style of singing and who I am. He directed a concert I was a soloist in for NAACP. I remember singing once and I walked over to him and he was crying that's when I knew I was doing really good. There is not enough time nor words to express how I feel. I love him and miss him this hurts. He was my teacher, father, mentor, counselor, helper, and friend. NOTHING COMPARES TO YOU MR STANSBURY...I'M GLAD HE'S AT PEACE, RESTING, NOT IN PAIN, BUT I AM SAD AND HURTING I DON'T WANT HIM TO BE GONE...THANK YOU GOD FOR SUCH A GREAT MAN!!!!!!!! TO THE STANSBURY FAMILY THANKS-A-MILLION. MRS. STANSBURY I LOVE YOU AND THANKS FOR LETTING ME GET TO KNOW HIM AND BE A PART OF YOUR WORLD...YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND GRACIOUS...I PRAY FOR YOUR STRENGTH AND PEACE....GOD BLESS US ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rachel Rodrigues

Mr. Stansbury "Stanz" was a very awesome teacher, mentor, person... He was my choir teacher back in high school~ (Ike), he expanded my love of music, because of him, I've passed the love of music onto my girls and they love it.... He will be truly missed but never forgotten... sending my prayers n love to all the family, extended family, friends, students. .. Thank you for all you have done for me and many others out their... May you R.I.P. and always fly free with the angles ...