Duane Silva

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Duane J. Silva, of Mountain Home, passed away at the St. Luke's Elmore Long Term Care Unit with dear friends Gene and Christa MacLean by his side.

Duane was born July 8, 1920, on a Montana homestead, the first child of Ernest and Edith (Koon) Silva. The family moved to Malta and later to Havre, Mont. He spent two summers in the Civilian Conservation Corps before graduating from Havre High School.

Duane entered the U.S. Army in 1941 and was assigned to the shore artillery in the Philippines. He was soon enrolled in an Army preparatory school in Manila and earned a Congressional Appointment to the United States Military Academy (West Point) from Sen. James Murray of Montana.

However, he was still in the Philippines when World War II began. He participated in the defense of the Bataan Peninsula and the island fortress of Corregidor. In May 1942, he became a prisoner-of-war for over three years, in hellish conditions in camps in the Philippines, onboard ships at sea, in Hong Kong, and finally near Osaka, Japan.

Soon after the Japanese surrender and his liberation in August 1945, he purchased a general store in rural Bonner County, Idaho, the Vay Trading Post.

It was there that he met the love of his life, a local schoolteacher named Millicent Morse. They married June 30, 1946. Their children, Cheryl and Michael, were born while they ran the store.

In the mid-1950s, they purchased a dairy farm south of Sandpoint, and farmed for nearly a decade. Their third child, Eddie, was born during this period. Duane served as chairman of the Bonner County School board and was honored by the Farm Bureau as the county's "Grassman of the Year" in recognition of his farming practices.

They left the farm in the early 1960s and Duane began a career at U.S. Air Force Stations in Albany, Ore.; the Sacramento area; Havre, Mont., and Mountain Home, where Duane retired from government service.

Through those years, he traveled the Big Sky Country with Millie in their pick-up camper, tended vegetable gardens and fruit trees that were the envy of their neighborhoods, and was a lifelong friend and generous host to anyone he met.

Into his 90s, Duane enjoyed a daily routine of a cigar and a cold beer while he gardened most of the afternoon and listened to country music. Every evening he enjoyed a slice of pie with ice cream, sometimes homemade.

Millicent preceded him in death, in September 2011. He was also preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Dollie, and his brother, Arnold.

He is survived by daughter Cheryl Korb and her husband, Dan, of Albany, Ore.; son Michael and his wife, Linda, of Fond du Lac, Wisc.; son Eddie and his wife, Holly, of St. Louis, Mo.; grandson Gregory and his wife, Jessica, of Slinger, Wisc.; and grandson Zachary of Milwaukee, Wisc. He is further survived by his aunt Bertha Koon of Spokane, Wash.; former sister-in-law Bonnie Watkins of Klamath Falls, Ore.; nephew Jerry (Barbara) Koon of Bend, Ore.; niece "Junior" (Otho) Savage of Priest Lake, Idaho; niece Belle (Philip) Barfus of Sandpoint, Idaho; sister-in-law Imogene (Dick) Hilbers of Palo Alto, Calif.; brother-in-law Richard Morse of Honolulu, Hawaii; and many dear friends, including the MacLeans.

At a private family inurnment, Duane and Millicent's remains will be placed at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise.

Cremation was under the direction of Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel.