Susan & LaRon Tolley
Successful athletic programs and schools need those who selflessly give of their time and effort "just because" they want to help. Susan and LaRon Tolley fall into that category. They are Beacons not because of their outstanding athletic or coaching exploits in Salem-Keizer but because of what they have done to help make the student-athlete experience at West Salem High School an outstanding one.
LaRon and Susan Tolley have been married for 35 years. They met while growing up in Alberta, Canada, living in towns about thirty miles apart. Their paths crossed regularly through various athletic events between rival high schools. Susan grew up in an avid golfing family and also participated in several competitive softball leagues both during and after high school and in her day was an outstanding racquetball player. LaRon participated in most every sport available (including curling and hockey) and after high school was offered scholarships in both basketball and baseball.
After playing college basketball for one year, LaRon turned to coaching and both LaRon and Susan have coached multiple teams and been involved in various youth sports over the years:
- Susan served on the West Salem Little League Executive Board for several years while coaching softball and LaRon coached the West Salem Senior Little League team to a State Championship in 2005.
- LaRon helped coach the JV and Varsity boys basketball teams at West Salem HS for three years from 2011–2013.
Just before moving to Salem, the Canadian city in which they lived had built a new high school. Both LaRon and Susan saw the challenges that a new school faced and they became keenly aware of the need for community involvement and support. When West Salem HS opened in 2002, knowing that at least four of the their children would likely be attending the new school, their focus turned to West and how they could help. For the next nine years they balanced being a volunteer, booster, and fan with being a parent. For the past seven years they continued their role but with no children attending WSHS.
- From 2001-2017 they have continued to serve in various volunteer capacities with the West Salem High School Education Foundation. (They even came “out of retirement” this past spring to offer concessions for Titan baseball and softball.)
- The Tolleys have coordinated all fundraising for The Ed Foundation and the West Salem Athletics Department since the school opened providing needed financial help to all groups – academic and athletic - willing to put in a bit of "sweat equity". Up to 2017, ALL concessions activities were managed by the Tolleys.
- The Tolley’s have four children who have graduated from WSHS (their daughter was THE FIRST actual graduate of West Salem) with the last walking across the stage in 2010. Yet the Tolleys continued with their active volunteerism for the Titans through 2017. During this time, for several months of the school year, Susan spent more time organizing and working at every concessions event than she did at her full-time job and LaRon spent almost as much time as Susan behind the scenes in various supportive roles, including as an active member of the West Salem Athletics Booster Club.
The five Tolley children participated in many athletic and extracurricular programs including baseball, soccer, basketball, football, golf, track, volleyball, softball, band, choir, drama and student government at West Salem. All five Tolley children have since gone on and completed a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree with one completing a Masters’ and another becoming a Doctor of Medicine. Each of them attribute much of their success and current career/position in life to their involvement in athletics and extra-curricular activities within the Salem-Keizer School district.
LaRon and Susan are now spending much of their free time helping coach the next generation of athletes and musicians amongst their nine grandchildren living in three different states.