Witness Post: Don York

Don York, who was inducted into the Oregon Chapter of the USA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009, is remembered as the long-time coach at Cleveland High School. He served as the varsity wrestling coach from 1957-1983.

High School Honors: 

Although he coached briefly at Lincoln High School and for many years at Cleveland High, York actually attended Franklin High School, graduating in 1949. His prize honor from Franklin was meeting Collette Dailey, with whom he was married for 70 years until his death at age 91 in 2022.

Post High School Wrestling Career highlights: 

  • Portland State College, Varsity Wrestling Letter winner.
  • Cleveland High School Wrestling Coach for 24 years (1957-76 and 1978-83), with 114 wins and 60 losses
  • Cleveland had 37 individual Portland Interscholastic League (PIL) Champions and 4 individual State Champions
  • 1961 and 1962 Cleveland teams were undefeated PIL Champions
  • The annual Don York Invitational Wrestling Tournament is held at Cleveland High School
  • York was inducted into the Cleveland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994
  • He was inducted into the Oregon Chapter of National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009
  • York was inducted into the PIL Coaching Hall of Fame in 2013

Commentary and Reflection by Don York:

I attended Franklin High School from 1946-1949, then went on to Vanport, the forerunner of Portland State College. PSC couldn’t give diplomas when my course work was completed, so I want to University of Oregon for a quarter and received my degree. While there, I roomed with two PIL Hall of Fame members: Jack Dunn and Cliff York.

I was offered a job in 1956, after earning my BA degree, to coach at Lincoln High School. When I told the Lincoln football coach that I had wrestled in college, he was delighted to give me the job, since he had just been appointed wrestling coach and knew absolutely nothing about the sport.

The next year I transferred to Cleveland High School and the rest is history. Starting in 1957, I taught English and coached wrestling there almost continuously for the next quarter century, until I retired in 1983.

My main reflection is about how many of the athletes I worked with have become life-long friends, probably because we always have something to talk about. I spend much of my summers sailing my Hobi 16 and racing when competition shows up.(1)

In 1965, Don and Collette bought property near friends at Lake Merwin. This was undeniably his “Happy Place.” He built a fantastic home with the help of countless friends and family (and a lot of beer!). He loved sailing and was always up for a race to the dam. He introduced his love of sailing to many young sailors over the years and scared a few folks into never sailing again. Don will be remembered for his many years as the Dock Commissioner of King’s Lakeside. (2)

(1) http://pilhalloffame.org/cybermuseum/product_info.php?products_id=672

(2) Oregonian Obit



Coach of Various Sports: 1956 – 1987

Cleveland High School Wrestling Coach: 1957-1983

Inducted into Cleveland High School Athletic Hall of Fame: 1994

Inducted into Portland Interscholastic League Hall of Fame: 2013

Varsity Sport for induction: Wrestling