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Lake Oswego High says farewell to Casey Dunn

Beloved math teacher dies after long bout with cancer

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Casey Dunn beams in this Facebook post of him at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.Casey Dunn didn’t start out wanting to teach math, but he changed career paths in his mid-30s, and became an inspiration to others.

Dunn died on Aug. 19, but not before he touched the lives of thousands of students, some of whom chose to become teachers because of him. Samantha Durrett, daughter of LOHS head secretary Terrie Sheik, called Dunn one of her “most inspirational teachers.”

“Casey Dunn, you are one of the reasons I teach math today,” says Durrett, an educator in South Carolina, in a eulogistic Facebook message to her mentor. “You brought me back to my love of math and showed me that teachers can be so much more than what they are given credit for. I am so thankful to have been taught by you had my teaching shaped by you and to have known you. The world was blessed by your presence and will forever miss you.”

Dunn, who has an adult daughter named Katie and a wife named Jamie Peterson, will have a celebration of life noon Sunday, Aug. 28 in the auditorium at Lake Oswego High School, 2501 Country Club Road. He’s also survived by a sister, brother and his parents. Through an online posting, Peterson invites others to join her at the event, but advises they dress comfortably in bright colors to honor “this man who lived such a full, amazing life!”

She also says the venue is appropriate.

“How fitting to celebrate his legacy in the halls where he loved to shape young minds and where he met so many of the people he considered among some of his dearest friends,” she writes.

Dunn was 50 when he died and fought pancreatic cancer for four years, says Bob McGranahan, an LOHS teacher. McGranahan has known Dunn since they attended graduate school together at Portland State University, and he came to LOHS in 2000. He says Dunn loved math and his students, and whatever he did, “it was always about the kids.” He also was fond of musical theater.

“He loved music, and he loved dancing rock ‘n’ roll (the most), but you could put on Shostakovich and he would probably dance,” McGranahan says.

He’d previously worked in the banking industry, but he left to become a teacher, his friend says. LOHS Spanish teacher Kelly Nalty says Dunn attended Chapman University in California, and was in his mid-30s when he made the career change.

“I think that really says something,” McGranahan says. “He decided to leave something you could really make money at and become a teacher, and that’s who he was. His heart was huge. … He was just warm and a wonderful human, and I really miss him.”

Nalty agrees with McGranahan that Dunn possessed a joie d’ vivre and “loved human connection.” He also had a limitless passion for astronomy.

“That was a big part of his teaching, was that he tried to help kids appreciate the night sky,” she says.

LOHS Spanish teacher Teresa Sanchez says she recalls him pointing out the stars out on a lake during a camping trip.

“At midnight, he took us in a canoe to see the stars, and it was a clear night,” Sanchez recalls, “and we talked about the dimensions of the universe and God, and we were wondering if God existed, but I don’t remember what the conclusion was.”

Former student Kaitlin Childs, now a teacher in Missouri, offered up a special post on Facebook that references that astronomical avocation of Dunn’s.

“Looking at the sky tonight, wishing I could see one more astronomy picture of the day to start off math class with Casey Dunn,” Childs writes. “I was so fortunate to have him twice for math at Lake Oswego High School. My impression of him my first day of sophomore year was that he had great hair. Little did I know, I had just met the person who would inspire me to become a high school math teacher.”

Contact Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..