John Carbery was a consummate father, brother, uncle, dentist, Irishman, partner and friend. His generosity, joyous spirit, insatiable curiosity and love knew no bounds, and all who knew him were better for having his lovely spirit grace their lives.
John was born in Aberdeen, Washington, on May 14, 1949, the son of the town pharmacist and Rexall Drugs owner. He learned many life lessons in that small Rexall store — be kind, polite, and make all who enter feel like family. John worked in his father’s pharmacy and especially enjoyed stocking the candy shelves, where he developed and regularly fed his sweet tooth. How ironic that he became a dentist! He relished his small-town upbringing, playing high school quarterback and developing a love of tennis, swimming and driftwood beach fires.
John attended the University of Washington in the School of Pharmacy, where he was an active member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. After his third year, he was accepted into the University of Oregon Dental School and graduated with the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. It was the Vietnam era, so John joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Dental Corps in Cupertino, California. While in the Navy, he learned to fly and was proud of earning his pilot’s license which he held for many years.
After serving his country proudly, John chose Yakima to begin his dental practice by himself (and a receptionist to start!). John fell in love with the people, the families and the joys and opportunities in Yakima. Through John’s warm personality, his passion to provide painless dentistry and with the best staff ever, he built a thriving dental practice. He treated every patient as a friend — many have been with him since the beginning. He was especially proud to serve local military families.
For over 40 years, John excelled in addressing the local, national and international issues of his profession. John was nationally recognized for his contributions to the dental industry. He served on the State Board of Judicial Affairs, Ethics and Peer Review for over 15 years. In 2010, he was appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire to the Dental Quality Assurance Commission (Washington’s state dental board) and was elected chair in 2017-2018. In 2017, John was elected to serve on the American Association of Dental Boards — the AADB influences the licenses of over 500,000 oral health practitioners. He served on the State Board of Dental Examiners, and since 2011 as an examiner on the Western Regional Examining Board. He served on the Washington Oral Health Foundation Board from 1998-2011, and as president from 2007-2009. John was a fellow in the Pierre Fauchard Academy (an International Dental Honorary supporting local dental outreach programs and scholarship for UW dental students), serving as Washington State Section Chair.
Lest you think that John was just a very accomplished dentist, well, that would not even come close to capturing his true measure! John’s children: Sarah, Lyndsey, and James (Jamie) Carbery, and grandchildren: Connor, Johnny, and Jasper were the center of his universe, and he enjoyed their unique talents and the joy they brought to his life. There were trips to Las Vegas for each 21st birthday, spring break, summer, and Christmas vacations to Disneyland, Cabo, Italy, Ireland and the annual week at Lake Chelan.
It took a few years, but John was lucky enough to find the love of his life in a Seattle corporate businesswoman, Kay Kipp. The most charming of men, John swept her off her feet, and she and John enjoyed 26 years of adventure, love and marriage.
John was proud of his Irish heritage and considered St. Patrick’s Day a national holiday. His first visit to his “homeland” was for a delayed honeymoon with Kay. Together they explored every pub and graveyard, searching for Carbery relatives. Although they did see the sights, for John it was about spending time in the pubs with the locals practicing his Gaelic and basking in the joy of the craic!
John had a natural affinity for languages. He loved speaking Spanish in Mexico and his self-taught Italian in Italy. In their adventures to Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and France, John’s practiced ear picked up many of the colloquialisms of these languages that later he would share to the wonderment of family and friends.
In addition to his wife, Kay, and his children and grandchildren, he is survived by his sister Marilyn (Gary) Ritchie, nephew Mark (Freddie), and niece Anne, and cousins Mikki (Doug) Holt and Bruce Kolts.
Wherever you are on this St. Patrick’s Day, have a toast to John and know that he is with you celebrating in heaven.
A celebration of John’s life will be at a later date.
Please share your memories of John at www.funeralalternatives.org. Remembrances may be made to the charity of your choice.