CANYONVILLE — When there are 11 kids growing up in one home, organization is essential.

The Young residence in Canyonville has its dinner schedule down. Everybody lines up in the kitchen cafeteria-style, youngest kids first. All load their plates and find seats at the 18-foot dining table. Grace is said.

After that, it’s less structured.

“Sometimes it gets kind of wild,” said Jake Young, father to the brood. “With seven or eight kids all talking at once … kids can get out of control, and do it in a hurry.”

And yet Young and Pam, his wife of 36 years, will take the hubbub over serenity. They’ve been foster parents, guardians and/or adoptive parents to 16 children. They also reared Jake Young’s son and adopted daughter from a previous marriage.

Over the years, the Youngs have had what amounts to three family sets. That’s partly because state children’s service agencies know the couple so well. But the primary reason for the Youngs’ multiple adoptions is the simplest.

“We just love kids,” said Jake Young, 64.

Young’s paternal side extends to the city in which he was born at the former Forest Glen Hospital. He’s the owner of Jake’s Auto Center on South Main Street. He was president of the Canyonville Chamber of Commerce for a decade, and a member much longer. He’s taken part in civic groups such as the Lions Club and has been a frequent chairman of Pioneer Days.

In 2014, Canyonville Mayor Bob Deaton decided not to run for re-election. Young said a city councilor paid the $10 filing fee to put Young’s name on the mayoral ballot, perhaps as a joke. Young never campaigned. Neither did anyone else. He’s now in his fourth term.

City Administrator/Recorder Janelle Evans said not only does Young know everybody in town, but also he’s able to make people understand the rules of government. Even when those people are upset.

“We’ve had people come and complain, but we never see them go away mad,” Evans said. “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like Jake.”

Dan Jocoy, senior pastor at Tri City Church of Christ, got to know Young in 2000. The two men formed a firm bond after Young brought his family to the church. Jocoy was wrapping up his tenure as mayor of Myrtle Creek when Young was deciding whether to take up the gavel in the neighboring city.

“I knew he was the leader that Canyonville needed,” Jocoy recalled. “Solid, with common sense and personal integrity. And Jake certainly was no stranger to Canyonville.”

Young lived in Myrtle Creek until his late 30s, but he’s been a Canyonville resident for 25 years. He was 13 when his father set up a gas station in town. Young worked there for the rest of his school days.

About a year after his 1974 graduation from South Umpqua High School, Young took a job as choker setter and later hook tender with Huffman & Wright Logging Co. He returned to the gas station in 1978 and stayed on after his father’s departure in 1982. Eleven years later, Young had the gas station torn down and built his auto repair business. He now works three 8 and 1/2-hour days a week instead of the seven 12-hour-day schedule with which he started his career.

“Fifty-one years of standing on that cement is starting to take a toll on me,” he said. “But I love the people and love my customers, so I don’t know if I will ever fully retire.”

When it comes to city business, Evans said Young has no agenda other than what’s best for Canyonville. Former mayors, councilors and staff were instrumental in the construction of the city’s $10 million sewer plant. But Evans credits Young and the current council with maintaining the course to see the project through.

“He has always been a caring person, and he helps a lot of people in need,” Evans said.

Jocoy said one such example took place on the June Sunday when Douglas County temperatures rose to record-breaking levels. Travelers broke down on Interstate 5 at Canyon Mountain and ended up staying at the Myrtle Creek bed and breakfast inn owned by Jocoy’s wife, Wendi. Their vehicle was towed to Young’s shop, where he ordered the necessary parts and quoted a price.

Jocoy said when the visitors returned to retrieve the vehicle, they praised Young for delivering service as promised at a reasonable cost.

“When people (have car trouble) in Canyonville, I tell them, ‘You have come to the right place to break down,’” Jocoy said.

Meanwhile, the Young children appear to have come to the right place to thrive. Pam Young gave up her insurance businesses in Canyonville and Myrtle Creek to become a stay-at-home mom. The Youngs installed their 3.5 acres with sandboxes, trampolines, slides and other play equipment.

A ready cook, Young likes to make family breakfasts on his days off. His specialty is “breakfast burritos with everything under the sun in them.”

As hectic as his life can be, Young has few complaints. He’s considering cutting back to one day a week at the shop. He has a 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air two-door hardtop he’d like to restore. He’s grateful for his wife, whom he calls a blessing.

And he certainly is never lonely.

“I probably hear ‘Hey, Dad,” about a dozen times a day,” Young said.

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