Lonald “Corky” Laurence Bridges was born on July 20, 1934, in Raymond, Washington, to Laurence and Mildred Bridges. He passed away peacefully at St. Rose Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Aug. 18, 2022, at the age of 88.
He spent his life achieving and succeeding and helped others do the same through his mentoring, coaching, teaching and advising. He was a lifelong educator.
Corky was raised in Raymond, Washington, with a few of his younger years spent living close-by at the beach in the town of Grayland. Corky was the younger brother of Ronald Bridges. He and his brother were conscientious students, friends and workers. As a child, Corky was a natural athlete — playing all sports through junior high and high school. He was included in the Who’s Who of High School Athletics and played on the varsity teams, receiving many letters and awards. He graduated from Raymond High School in 1952.
He received a football scholarship to the University of Washington and continued to show his skill as a developing national level athlete while there.
He married his lifelong friend, Jeannette Galey, (they met as toddlers) on Oct. 9, 1954, in Raymond, Washington, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Soon, he was drafted by the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany where he spent his time operating tanks, assisting officers, and yes — playing football on an Army team.
After his Honorary Discharge from the Army and return to the United States, he continued his education at Central Washington State College in Ellensburg, Washington, where he pursued and received his Bachelor and Master of Education degrees. At Central, he became a nationally recognized collegiate football player and held several national records. He was selected as two-time Little All-American, captain of his team, and captured the attention of most national professional football teams. He was recruited heavily by several professional football teams and eventually was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams.
While playing with the Rams in California, he missed being away from his family. He returned to Washington state and he and Jeannette moved to Redmond, Washington, where he was hired by the Bellevue School District as a history and driver’s education teacher and coach at Sammamish High School. Eventually, he left high school for elementary school, taking a job in the Northshore School District as a fifth grade teacher. But in no time, Central Washington State College offered him the opportunity to come back to Ellensburg and become the Assistant Director of Admissions — where he eventually became Director of Admissions and raised his family with Jeannette.
After their kids were grown and on their own paths, he and Jeannette moved to Spokane, Washington. He completed his career in Spokane and retired in 1980 after working for the Community College District as Director of School and Community Relations. His passions in his adult years were woodworking, landscaping and hosting friends for card games, drinks and good times. After retiring, he doubled down on these interests; building a beautiful cedar strip canoe with his friend, Wayne Wright; maintaining a pristinely pruned and landscaped yard and becoming a certified bartender. He always stayed physically fit and worked out throughout his life.
As Corky and Jeannette reached their golden years, they moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, in Sept. 2018 to be closer to their children, grandson and their families. He was unsure about relocating at first because he loved his independence and the Northwest, but grew to appreciate being close to his family. Access to casinos and blackjack tables was a bonus! The transition was well-timed because soon after moving to Vegas, he faced the diagnosis and reality of dealing with Parkinson’s Disease and dementia. This was, perhaps, the greatest challenge of his life. After Jeannette passed away in January 2021, he lived with his son, Monte, and spouse, Johnny, until his death.
Corky is preceded in death by his parents, Laurence and Mildred Bridges; his brother and sister-in-law, Ronald and Sally Bridges; his wife of 66 years, Jeannette Galey Bridges; and many relatives and friends.
He is survived by his son, Monte Bridges (Johnny Underwood); daughter, Julee Bridges Grabinski (Jon Grabinski); grandson, AJ Valoff (Sara Valoff); and his brother’s children: David Bridges, Debbie (Bridges) Jensen, Diane (Bridges) Fitzpatrick and their respective families.
Corky’s family will bring his ashes to Raymond, Washington, and he will be buried next to his wife at Fern Hill Cemetery in Menlo, Washington. On Nov. 14, 2022, a graveside service will be held at 3:30 p.m. A reception for family and friends will follow at the Raymond Elks.
In lieu of flowers and gifts, donations may be made to charities of your choice.
Corky’s joking wit, his quick smile, love of sports, and affinity for family and friends, will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him.
Rest in peace, Corky!