When Mark McNeal, facilities specialist at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, arrived for his shift on…
Daniel, who was born in Tennessee, was just ten years old when his father died in an accidental shooting. It was the 1930s and everyone was facing hard times. For Daniel’s now single mother, keeping her family together became impossible. Daniel, his brother and his sister were sent to separate orphanages. Daniel was determined to be self-sufficient and starting working and setting aside a savings account. He devoted all his energy to school and to multiple jobs – delivering groceries, cleaning rental properties, pumping gasoline. By the time he was ready to graduate from high school, he had saved $5,000 – a huge amount for a young man determined to earn his way out of poverty.
When World War II started in 1942, Daniel joined the Marines. His refers to his service experience as one of the three most important commitments of his life. He quickly found himself serving in the Pacific Theater. A highlight of his tour of duty and a story he loves to share centers on his opportunity to meet Eleanor Roosevelt as she visited the soldiers as part of the USO effort. Daniel holds both Eleanor and her husband, Franklin, in the highest esteem, crediting them with doing so much to help orphans and soldiers following the war. Having qualified for both of those titles, Daniel knew their hardships and valued the Roosevelt’s commitments to assist those facing such struggles.
When Daniel returned to Tennessee following the war he put his life’s savings into his own education, earning an associate degree. He landed a job at the Oakridge Nuclear plant and found his other two lifelong commitments. He found a new family in the Masons lodge and the faith it helped foster, and soon found the love of his life. At 25 he married Blanche, making a third major life commitment.
Opportunity came knocking for the young couple in the form of Ohio’s burgeoning auto industry. They moved to Dayton and Daniel found work at the General Motors Delphi plant. They were blessed with three sons, Daniel Jr., Donald and Mark. Once separated from his own mother and siblings, Daniel’s union with Blanche enabled him to achieve the lasting bond and family closeness that was missing from his own youth. As the boys married and the family grew to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Daniel realized his childhood determination to earn his way out of poverty had been realized in riches far beyond those of his youthful dreams. He carries with him daily the reminders of the commitments that formed the foundation of his life – his Marine Corp ring, his Masonic Ring and his wedding ring. For Daniel they represent loyalty, faith and love of family – a life well-lived.