News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

In Memoriam: Casey Budlong (Dec. 28, 1977 – April 20, 2024)

Casey James Budlong, 46, of Mill City died April 20, 2024, after a fight with brain cancer. He was born Dec. 28, 1977, to Dennis and Cari (Brown) Budlong.

Raised in Mill City, Casey found his first true love – the family farm. He graduated from Santiam High School and from Eastern Oregon University with a bachelor’s degree.

Casey began logging and working on the trail crew for the USFS while in Mill City. After moving to La Grande, he began a decades-long career as a wildland firefighter. He was a Hot Shot for many years. Casey was a dedicated employee and did the job with strength, knowledge, leadership, humor, and camaraderie. 

Casey met Kathleen (Katy) Van Horn in La Grande in 2009. They married in 2011, having son Christofer in 2015.

Casey loved many things in life – hunting, fishing, hiking, a big meal, maple syrup, and snow to name a few. But he loved nothing more than his family, his friends, and the farm. Casey had a sense of humor that made people love him and that gave others around him strength. 

Casey is survived by his wife, Kathleen Budlong; son, Christofer Budlong; mother, Cari Budlong; dad and stepmom, Dennis and Cindi Budlong; grandmother, Lynne Edwards; brothers, Bryce (Kayla) Budlong and Zev (Amanda) Gabai; sister, Hadas Gabai; nieces and nephews, Natalie and Elsa Budlong and Gilad and Nadav Gabai; and aunts, uncles, cousins, and many other relatives. 

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m. May 4 at Gates Community Church. Contributions can be made in his honor to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

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