Roy Coles, 1916-2012


Roy Coles, a retired executive secretary-treasurer of the former Oregon State Council of Carpenters, died Sept. 19. He was 96 years old.

Coles’ career as a full-time union officer spanned 20 years.   He retired from the Carpenters’ state post in 1979 after serving in that job for 10 years. For a decade prior to that he was business agent of Pile Drivers Local 2416 of Portland.

The Oregon State Council of Carpenters and Local 2416 no longer exist. The council was merged into the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters and the local was dissolved in January 2011 and merged with other locals to create Piledrivers Carpenters Local 196.

Roy William Coles was born April 2, 1916, in Quincy, Ore. He attended grade school and high school in Clatskanie and participated in all sports.

He worked in logging camps and sawmills, and as a commercial fisherman, before marrying his high school sweetheart, Fay Wood, in 1936. She preceded him in death in 1954.

Coles joined the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) in 1937 as a millwright’s helper at a mill near Wauna. Two years later he transferred to a Shingle Weavers local, also in the UBC, upon taking a job in a shingle manufacturing plant at Astoria. Two years later, in 1941, he transferred to Pile Drivers Local 2416 in Portland.

In 1943 Coles enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he served with the 25th Combat Engineers of the 6th Armored Division. As a sergeant, Coles fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and Luxembourg from Dec. 16, 1944 through Jan. 25, 1945.

After returning from the war, Coles took a job with the fire department at the Beaver Ammunition Depot at Clatskanie. After six months on that job he returned to the pile driving trade with Local 2416. He worked out of Local 2416’s hall until April 1949, when he moved his family to the Coos Bay area. There, he went into the business of logging and driving a log truck until the summer of 1955.

That year he married Theda. She preceded him in death in April 2003.

Coles returned to the pile driving trade out of Local 2416 after leaving Coos Bay. He worked on various construction projects as a foreman and superintendent until 1959, when he won election as the union’s business agent.

In that capacity, Coles helped set up a Pile Driver Apprenticeship Program in the early 1960s.

Oregon Gov. Tom McCall appointed Coles in 1970 to the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board.

Coles was selected to the Northwest Oregon Labor Council Hall of Fame in 2002.

Coles is survived by son Robert; daughter Trudi; six grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and two great-great granddaughters.

Coles was buried with military honors at Willamette National Cemetery.


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