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Nyssa at Coquille Girls

Coquille High School super fans Corky Daniels, left, and George Johnson watch the girls playoff game against Nyssa last Friday night.

To people who have lived in Coquille 30 or more years, Corky Daniels will be remembered as the man who ran the city’s police department for a quarter century and helped get the city’s EMT program and ambulance service started.

To kids who were athletes during the 1980s and 1990s, he will be remembered as the guy who provided medical support on the sidelines of all the football games.

To the younger athletes from the past decade, Corky will be recalled as one of the high school’s super fans, perched in the corner of the gymnasium for basketball games and in the grandstands for football contests.

Future generations looking at the list of Coquille Hall of Fame inductees will find him there after he enters this fall.

In whatever way he is remembered, it will almost certainly be fondly.

Corky died last weekend at the ripe young age of 90.

A bunch of members of the community gathered to celebrate his life Friday in a memorial service that was joyous, fitting his impact.

Memories of family members were shared in an often humorous way by Pastor Bruce Russell. 

There was the story about how he and his bride of 63 years, Jennie, traveled to Portland where Coquille had purchased an ambulance when he started Coquille’s ambulance service early in his tenure as police chief.

Jennie was driving the family car back, following him as he drove through downtown Portland. As the story went, cars were pulling aside right and left to let Corky through, but then barging right back into the lane so Jennie was dropping behind. In her haste to try to catch up, she was pulled over by a Portland police officer, who, after her explanation, then turned on his lights and had her follow him so she could catch back up.

Many of the stories centered around Corky’s work not with law enforcement, but with the ambulance service and medical field.

He had got hit start as a firefighter in Springfield after serving in World War II and then he switched over to the police department. After spending another four years in the Navy during the Korean conflict, Corky found his way to the South Coast, working with the Myrtle Point Police Department and Coos County Sheriff’s Office before being hired as Coquille’s police chief in 1965.

He worked with a local physician to start the city’s EMT training program and spent countless hours of his own time on the sidelines at football games for Coquille. After a player broke his leg during a game and had to be taken to the hospital in a pickup truck, Corky started bringing an ambulance to the stadium.

He continued as an EMT long after he retired from the police force in 1991. His last ambulance run came when he was 81.

He served the city in a number of other ways, including being active in the Kiwanis Club and serving 20 years on the city council. He served as interim police chief three different times in Powers and once in Bandon when those cities were looking for new chiefs as part of the Oregon Police Chief’s Association’s Line Backer program.

Family and friends said he kept helping out at the football games because he loved to be around the kids.

This year the Coquille Hall of Fame committee selected Corky for induction as the George Johnson Booster of the Year.

It is a particularly fitting award because he and George were close friends and great fans, rarely missing games together until George died back in 2017.

One of the more humorous anecdotes shared Friday was from last fall, when a young man took Corky’s Coquille letterman’s jacket (with his name on the back) from the auditorium at the community building during one of the senior meals that Corky and Jennie attended regularly with friends.

Corky, who turned 90 last October, chased the culprit down and caught up to him in the library, scolding him about how he should never try to steal a jacket from a 90-year-old retired police chief, especially when the jacket was given to him by the high school team.

His love for the community he called home for more than half a century and the schools he served many of those decades never wavered.

I know I am one of many who will fondly remember him for that.

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Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at john.gunther@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.

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