Remembering Ron Covey: Former Moses Lake mayor touched many lives in his community

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Jul. 22—Dr. Ronald Covey, born June 9, 1947, was a lifelong Moses Lake resident. He graduated from Moses Lake High School in 1965, ran a chiropractic clinic on Third Avenue for about 30 years, served 3.5 four-year terms on city council, from 1996-2009, and three two-year terms as mayor of Moses Lake, from 2004-2009.

Covey died on June 12, 2021. He was a father, guitar player, singer, public servant, friend and much more to many people. Following are some words from a handful of them.

Marsha Covey Cohen, Ron Covey's sister: He will be missed by his family: sister and brother-in-law Marsha and Dale Cohen; his sons Brian and Jennifer Covey and their four children, daughters Bailey, Maddie, and Nina and son Micah; and Jeff and Nadia Covey and their sons Joseph and William. He went to Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. Yes, Moses Lake was home.

JR Covey, Ron Covey's son: A boy's first hero is usually his dad and mine was bigger than life. His stature, character and charisma made an impact wherever he went. He cast a long shadow (literally and figuratively) and he will be dearly missed. My dad taught me three things that I will never forget:

1) He taught me that honesty above all is the chief virtue. If you make an error or bad choice, come what may, accept the consequences of your choices. Integrity will last long after you have forgotten your mistakes.

2) He taught me that our lives are not our own. The strength we have is for more than ourselves. Stand up for and protect those that can't and that our resources are meant to be a blessing to others.

3) He taught me to love Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty, but that The Beach Boys most of all deserve to be considered one of the greatest classic rock bands in history (those who knew my dad should appreciate this).

Nadia Covey, Ron Covey's daughter-in-law: I was very pregnant with my first child and we had just moved. Ron came to visit and seeing that we didn't have enough stuff to fill this new place he insisted on taking us shopping. He really wanted us to feel loved and for our son to have a great home to grow up in. Aside from several larger pieces of furniture he wanted me to have a night stand that I really loved because I was spending a lot more time than usual in bed. We were standing in front of several options and I said, "That one looks fine." I had picked the least expensive option because I knew he had already spent so much.

He said, "But is that the one you want?"

I replied, "It is nice."

But he came back with, "Do you really like that one the best?"

I shrugged and pointed to a really nice one with mirror fronts on the cabinet door and drawer fronts, "If I'm honest, that's probably my favorite one."

And without a hesitation he exclaimed, "If that's the one my daughter wants, that's the one she is going to get!" And I almost cried on the spot from feeling the love and care he had for us.

It is still by my bedside all these years later and I don't imagine I will ever replace it.

Jon Lane, Ron Covey's high school classmate, former Moses Lake City Council member, former Moses Lake mayor: Having gone to school and graduated with Ron, I don't remember when I first met him, but I do remember that he had a big personality and it was appropriate that he was "the leader of the band."

Years later, I became involved with the city on the Moses Lake Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department Commission. I reconnected with Ron since he was on the city council as mayor. He encouraged me to run for a city council position and I was able to get elected. Ron was a visionary city leader who loved Moses Lake and wanted to serve the present needs of the community while looking to build a bold future. He visited other cities to expand his vision of what Moses Lake could be. Ron was a big supporter of the aquatic center, the city museum, the revitalization of downtown and strong police and fire departments. He also was instrumental in planning and building the current city hall/museum complex. I enjoyed working with Ron while we were on the city council. Ron left a positive impact on Moses Lake.

Joseph Gavinski, former Moses Lake city manager: I knew Ron for the last 40-plus years, first as a friend and then working with him as a Moses Lake council member and as mayor. Ron was always a gentleman regardless of the situation. He also was a dedicated public servant for his community and should be remembered for his service.

Michael Therrell, Ron Covey's boyhood classmate and friend: When my family moved back to Moses Lake after the Korean War, I was a 7-year-old attending Knolls Vista Elementary School, and I didn't know a single person. Ron was the first person I met, and we were still friends 67 years later. That year, we both had a crush on Miss Presnell, our teacher. My last conversation with Ron, a few months ago, we still agreed that she was the prettiest teacher we ever had, and one of the best.

Several years ago, Ron gave my wife and I a boat tour of Moses Lake. The pride that he had in the lake, and the city, showed on his face. He devoted his life to making Moses Lake a better city, and a better lake. He succeeded in both. All of Ron's life, he left things better than he found them. When he would leave a room, it was cleaner, more functional, and there was more oxygen in the air. The same is true of his most personal relationship with Moses Lake. Because of Ron, Moses Lake is a better city, and because of Ron, Moses Lake is a better lake.

Two things are true today. Moses Lake has lost a very good friend, and Miss Presnell is still the prettiest teacher.

Spencer Clark, Ron Covey's classmate, friend and band member: In 1952, Ron Covey and I were both enrolled in kindergarten at Knolls Vista Elementary School. It was the beginning of a friendship that would last for 69 years. As boys, we beat a path between his home on the corner of Knolls Vista Drive and my house on Loop Drive, playing together when we could. As we grew, we made many a model airplane (or ship), rode our bikes, and hung out with neighbor boys Bruce Belisle and Jerry Lester.

Ron's dad had an electric Fender guitar that he'd sit in their front room and play occasionally. That guitar got handed down to Ron when he was in about fourth grade. We discovered that if Ron played a song on his guitar and sang the melody, I could sing harmony. We'd buy small books at Dietzen's Thriftway in Vista Village that had the words printed out to popular songs. We worked up songs by the Kingston Trio, The Everly Brothers, Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger, the Weavers and other older standards. Ron's mother started getting us singing jobs at fraternal club luncheons in Moses Lake. I played the head of an old banjo with brushes, like a small drum, when we performed. (I was "the drummer!") Sometime later, Ron's younger sister Marsha was added to the group as a vocalist. I found out, our beginning group was called the Embers, according to an old clipping from the Columbia Basin Herald that Ron's mother had saved. We had so much fun doing this, and our mutual interest in music really sealed our relationship.

When Ron and I were in ninth grade at Frontier Junior High School, we played for a talent show. Ron played guitar, I played tenor saxophone, and Mike Balzotti played piano. By the start of the next school year, we were all in small teen bands in the local area. Mike Balzotti and I were in the Road Runners, Ron was in the Continentals. We had a friendly rivalry, but if someone needed help because their amplifier failed or some such, we would definitely help each other out. Ron later left the Continentals and formed a band with his sister Marsha, Marsha Maye and the Ravens.

Ron and I both graduated from Moses Lake High School in the great class of '65. In 1967, I was back in Moses Lake after college in Seattle and enlisting in the Navy. Ron and Marsha were playing music together then. Ron contacted me and asked me to play bass guitar with his band for a job in Walla Walla. I did the gig and what a kick playing again with Ron and Marsha.

After high school and some time at Big Bend Community College, Ron attended Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, following in his father's footsteps. After returning to Moses Lake, Ron worked with his dad for a while and eventually took over the family business.

Both of Ron's parents are deceased. Clyde W. Covey passed away first; Barbara M. Covey died on Oct. 12, 2009. Ron is survived by his sister Marsha. Rest in peace old friend.

Wayne Rimple, former Moses Lake mayor: The passing of Ron Covey is but another loss of a dedicated servant to the city of Moses Lake. I remember his calmness in council meetings and with the general public. RIP Ron — you will be missed.

Dick Deane, Ron Covey's friend, teacher, former Moses Lake City Council member, former Moses Lake mayor: Dr. Ron Covey: An honest, up-front, clearly spoken gentleman. Because of these traits, I often referred to him as "Big Daddy." He was not wishy-washy. Facts and fairness were at the central forefront of every conversation he had. He led by example, and had 20-plus years of foresight. He grew up here in Moses Lake and watched the growth and expansion taking place. He said, "The decisions we make now are extremely important, and they will come back to kick us in the rear if we don't have our facts laid out correctly."

I was one of his junior high school teachers. Because he was so tall, he could be seen over top of all the other students, so when he ran down the halls, the teachers could pick him out and holler, "Stop running in the halls!"

Now "Big Daddy" is running in the halls of heaven and I am sure he loves the thrill! He is playing his guitar while smiling down on us all.

David Curnel, current Moses Lake Mayor and city council member: I first met Ron Covey when he was mayor of Moses Lake. His size and booming voice made me think he was bigger than life. He ran for reelection in 2009 and was defeated by Karen Liebrecht. Needless to say, I was shocked. Ron took it in stride like the person that he was. He moved on to other adventures. I think Ron's biggest achievement as mayor was pursuing the building of a new civic center. Others will have more stories I am sure, but I will never forget his selfless dedication to the citizens of Moses Lake, his energy, and his presence. He will be missed.

Richard Pearce, former Moses Lake City Council member: Ron was an excellent public speaker. He always had appropriate remarks and delivered them well. He was very interested in our city, his hometown. He was especially concerned with the beautification of downtown and developing a more user friendly and pedestrian friendly environment. He traveled to several cities to see what had been accomplished in those cities. The pavers and the traffic circle are two ideas that were suggested by Ron and then completed here in Moses Lake. Sinkiuse Square and the Japanese Garden also exist in part because of Ron's positive influence.

Dave Helms, former Moses Lake fire chief: Ron was my chiropractor for more than 10 years when I joined the Moses Lake Lions Club. That's when I really got to know him. He was already a veteran of the club and it became apparent to me very quickly that he was one of the true leaders of the organization. He brought solid judgment and as a board member helped to direct the activities and projects of the club. Working with him in the club was always a fun experience and full of laughs.

After he was elected to the city council I had the opportunity to work with Ron on a different level. As the fire chief, I got to see first hand that Ron's interests and efforts on the council were truly for the benefit and betterment of the city of Moses Lake as a whole. If Ron had a question about the operation or activities within a department he wasn't afraid to contact the department director to get the answer first hand before he formed his position on an issue. He trusted staff and valued their knowledge and perspective even if he didn't always agree with their position. Ron was an exceptionally hard-working mayor. While it is not always apparent to the public, it was quite obvious to staff that the mayor spends many hours behind the scenes participating on various boards and committees. Many of the improvements in infrastructure and amenities are a direct result of the efforts Ron put forth. One in particular was the widening of the Interstate 90 overpass at Division Street. The state DOT had designed a narrower bridge that was less expensive with very little room for pedestrians and bicycles. They were standing rather firm on their design. After hours of meetings and phone calls presenting the safety concerns, they finally redesigned it to what we have today. This would never have happened without Ron's efforts. The parks, streets, police and fire departments all benefited from Ron's leadership, insight and hard work. But the citizens of Moses Lake were the true recipients of his efforts. And I, for one, will miss him greatly.

Karen Liebrecht, former Moses Lake mayor, current council member: Ron was a dedicated member of the city council of Moses Lake. He was voted by his fellow council members to the position of mayor. He enjoyed representing his city to its fullest. I remember him to be diligent in his service and very proud of Moses Lake. He strove to improve its benefits to our citizens. His daily visits to city hall and especially to our police department were part of his ritual. He continued to keep informed of city agendas even after he left office. His ominous presence will be missed. Thank you, Ron, for your service.

James Liebrecht, former Moses Lake City Council member: It was my pleasure to serve with Ron on council. He offered his experience to mentor myself when I first came on council. We didn't always agree but he loved his position as mayor and served with passion. He left a deep imprint on Moses Lake and will be thanked for his service for many years to come. His portrait hangs in council chambers with all the mayors before and after his service to our community. God be with you, Ron.

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