Larena Gwendolyn (Holmes) Daniel, 95, Sandpoint, Idaho, passed away on July 17, 2019, at the Life Care Center in Sandpoint.
Larena was born in Utica, Kansas, to James and Eva (Walt) Holmes, on March 2, 1924, the second of four children. She lived with her parents and three siblings on several farms in Kansas, between 1924 and 1935. Larena started school in that area in the Fall of 1930. Between the dust storms, no rain, and the depression in 1933 and 1934, they made the decision to leave Kansas. In June of 1935, the family moved to a property located 14 miles north of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, where they built their home and farmed the land and kept cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys, and grew big gardens. Larena attended grade school at Copeland, and then Bonners Ferry High School, graduating in May 1942.
Following graduation, Larena took the Civil Service Test and was notified in August to go to Boise, Idaho, to begin Airplane Mechanic’s Training. In November 1942, following her training, Larena was sent to Buckley Airfield in Denver, Colorado, to work in the office. In early 1943, Larena was assigned to Hill Field Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, a repair station for B-24’s that had been damaged in the war, where she finally began working on airplanes.
In August of 1944, Larena left her assignment at Hill Field and returned home to marry John Daniel, who was in the Army and had returned from overseas. John was her long-time neighbor, friend and sweetheart. They were married in Bonners Ferry on August 18, and soon after, traveled to Palatka, Florida, where John was assigned to complete his service with the Army. He was honorably discharged on October 5, 1945, near the time their first daughter, Elizabeth Ann, was born. John found work and they remained in Palatka for a few months before returning home to Bonners Ferry in 1946.
After returning to Bonners Ferry, while John was employed with Cook’s Battery & Electric, Larena was home raising their daughter. A second daughter, Donna Mae, and a son, John LeRoy, were added to the family during the next four years.
In the spring of 1951, the family moved to property along Iron Creek near Troy, Montana, and built their home. The fourth and last child, a daughter, Nancy Jean, joined the family during these early years in Troy. From 1953 to 1974, John was employed by J. Neils and St. Regis Lumber Co. in Troy, while Larena was kept very busy taking care of their home and four children, helping with farming, taking care of cows, chickens and horses, and raising gardens. Larena enjoyed baking, sewing and spending time with family and good friends.
In 1974 John transferred to the St. Regis Retail Store in Libby, Montana, and in May 1975, Larena and John sold their home near Troy and bought a place on Granite Creek south of Libby. Upon retirement in 1983, Larena and John became snowbirds for the next 11 years, traveling to Arizona each fall to spend the winters and returning home each spring for the summer months. Larena and John thoroughly enjoyed these years of freedom and spending time with many old and new friends.
In 1990, Larena and John sold their home in Libby and moved into a small home on Nancy and Jerry’s property near Sandpoint. After discontinuing their trips to Arizona, they settled into life in the country, keeping busy with a garden, flowers and beautiful lawn, and spending time with family and friends. As John’s sight began to deteriorate, Larena became his eyes and took care of him 24/7. She was a devoted and loving wife to John for 67 years, until he passed away in 2011. Larena was beginning to have some health issues of her own after falling several times, and it eventually became necessary for her wellbeing to enter a care facility.
Larena was a caring mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend who deeply loved her family and friends. She will be remembered by those who knew her best for her willingness to help anyone who needed it, and for being a good listener for those who wanted or needed to talk. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.
Larena was preceded in death by her parents, James and Eva Holmes; her brother, Edward Holmes; and her sister, Ramona Holmes Plato. She is survived by their four children, Elizabeth Daniel, Spokane, Washington, Donna Daniel Sterling and her husband Larry, Meridian, Idaho, John Daniel and his wife Barbara, Troy, and Nancy Daniel Johnson and her husband Jerry of Sandpoint; as well as 10 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and eight great-great grandchildren; her brother, Cecil Holmes; one sister-in-law, Faye Daniel, Sulphur Spring, Texas; and numerous nieces and nephews.