Jay Kenneth Torrey, beloved husband of Marilyn and beloved father of Karen, David, Mark and Lorilee, died suddenly in late September while travelling in Swaziland, Africa. He is now with the Lord. He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Marilyn, four children, Karen Sloan of San Diego, David Torrey of Santa Barbara, Mark Torrey of Santa Ynez, and Lorilee Torrey of Vancouver, Washington as well as grandchildren Jennifer Sloan, Kimberly Sloan, Christine Sloan (Jason) Richards, Cy Torrey, Ashley Torrey and great grandchild, Danielle Richards. He is also survived by three sisters, Carol Acquistapace of Santa Barbara, Laverne Hendricks of Lawrence- ville, Illinois, Janet (Paul) Adams of Yuma, Arizona and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Estelle and Lincoln Torrey, a brother, Richard Torrey, and sisters, Ellen Parker and Marilyn (Lynn) Schultz.
Jay was born in 1926 to Estelle and Lincoln Torrey in Wilmette, Illinois, and he was extremely proud of his Mayflower heritage, being a descendant of Elder William Brewster. He attended New Trier High School where he was a member of the track team. He was a dedicated Boy Scout and became an Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow.
On his 17th birthday in 1943, and at the height of World War II, Jay enlisted in the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. He was first sent to Duke, then Emory University for the V12 program. At age 19, he became one of the youngest Marine Corps officers while at Quantico, as a 2nd LT, and then was sent to Parris Island where he was training for an anticipated invasion of Japan. Jay returned to college after WW II ended and graduated from the University of Illinois, where he was a member of the Chi Psi fraternity, with a degree in business in 1947. Upon graduating, he joined his family, who had moved to Santa Barbara, CA, and became a partner with his father and brother in Hollister Mission Hardware, which eventually became Mission Hardware with retail locations on De La Vina St., Cliff Dr. and Hollister Avenue.
In the spring of 1946, while on terminal leave from the Marine Corps, Jay visited his sister, Laverne, at Beloit College in Wisconsin where he met his future wife, Marilyn, who he called the love of his life, on a blind date. In June of 1949, Jay and Marilyn were married in Aurora, Illinois.
In 1951, Jay was called back into the Marine Corps to serve in the Korean War after training at Quantico and Camp Pendleton. He was promoted to Captain, was shipped to Korea and sent to the 49th parallel in the fall of 1951 as a company commander. In December of 1951, he was critically wounded by a land mine while leading an intelligence and reconnaissance mission into enemy territory. He was helicoptered out to Pusan Harbor and the naval hospital ship, Repose. Once stabilized, he was sent to the naval hospital in Yokosuka, Japan, for three months where he received a Purple Heart.
Upon his return home to Santa Barbara, Jay bought out his father and brother's partnership in Mission Hardware and eventually opened up two other stores, one on Cliff Drive and the other on Hollister Avenue. He closed the Mesa store after 20 years and continued to operate the Goleta store until 2006, when he retired at the age of 80.
Jay served as President of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce for two years, led the Goleta Downtown Association and was one of the Founders of Goleta Beautiful and the Community Bank of the West.
Jay was very involved in youth organizations in Santa Barbara and Goleta: he was Scout Master of Troop 17 from 1947 to 1959, where for many years, he took 40-50 scouts on trips to the High Sierras; he was later a Cub Scout Master and Chief of both the YMCA Indian Guides and Indian Princess programs and a Live Stock Leader and Club Leader in 4-H, with all four of his children participating in the various programs and clubs. Jay was very supportive of the Goleta Boys and Girls Club and through his 4-H affiliation, became a member of the Santa Barbara County Fair Board.
About 25 years ago, Jay and Marilyn joined the Santa Barbara Friendship Force, an international group of nearly 600 hundred clubs worldwide, which promotes world peace by participating in international and domestic exchanges. Jay was the second Club President and led several exchanges. In addition, the Torrey's hosted foreign exchange students many times over the years through a program called Christmas International House.
In 2006, the Torrey's were honored as a pioneer family by the Goleta Valley Historical Society. In 2011, they sold their "4-H" home of 50 years and moved to the retirement community of Maravilla where they enjoyed new friendships and new adventures.
Jay loved his family, his country, Santa Barbara, Goleta, and the First Presbyterian Church, where he was a member for 67 years. He was very active in the church which included serving as an Elder and a Deacon and participating in Mission work. He went on three mission trips over the past six years: New Orleans (Katrina rebuilding), Fresno and the Ukraine.
Jay also loved to travel and he and Marilyn traveled all over the world; their trips included Elder Hostels, time shares, tours, cruises, river journeys and completely independent trips. In September, Jay embarked on his final trip with Marilyn: a land tour of South Africa. He was in Swaziland when he unexpectedly passed away.
A celebration of Jay's life will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara on Saturday, October 19th at 2 PM. A private internment will be held prior. Those who wish to honor Jay may send contributions to the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission or the Santa Barbara Humane Society.