On June 15, 1966 Carl and Harriet celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and
entered their golden years. During this next period of their life together, Carl and Harriet
were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. During the next nine years they were able to see
many of their grandchildren marry. They also witnessed the arrival of the first of a number of
The next spring after the 50th anniversary celebration Carl and Harriet joined Bill
and Peggy Laney for a trip to the Holy Land. They left Spokane on Tuesday, April 11th for
New York. Their next stop was Lisbon, Spain. After sightseeing on Wednesday and
Thursday, they flew on to Madrid. The next Sunday through Wednesday they toured Rome
seeing the Vatican, St. Peter's Cathedral, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.
Wednesday afternoon they flew to Cairo where they saw the Giza pyramids, Memphis and
the Egyptian Museum. On the evening of Saturday, April 22nd, they flew to Beirut. Their
next stop was Damascus, but a schedule change prevented them from touring the city. They
went on to Syria and then Amman, Jordan. Finally, on April 27th they arrived in Jerusalem.
They spent the next week touring Jordan and Israel. Thursday, May 3rd, they departed via
El Al airline from Tel Aviv to Istanbul. Their next stop was Athens and then on to
Frankfurt, Germany. They visited Berlin and Hamburg before flying to London on May 10th
and then on to Seattle and Spokane on the 11th. What a trip!
Carl thoroughly enjoyed the stimulating travel experience. In a letter to the family
from Cairo, Harriet writes, "Carl is taking pictures and buying slides like mad. While visiting
the Pool of Siloam, where Christ sent the blind man to wash and be healed, brother Bill
stepped on a slippery rock and fell into the water! Carl had fun kidding him about it saying
that now he had been properly baptized--by immersion!
The next decade of Carl's life was spent traveling around to see his children and
grandchildren. He and Harriet took real pride in the accomplishments of their family. They
made every effort to attend every graduation and wedding and were always welcomed as
Carl's basement workshop produced an endless line of tables, chairs and rocking
horses for his grandchildren. In his golden years he remained interested in life. As a prolific
reader and insightful thinker, he was up on the current political situations of the day. He
was especially interested in history and geology and could discuss these matters at length.
He maintained an open and curious mind which inspired learning.
In the 1970's Carl raised evergreen trees on his property in Kennewick. He went over
to the coast and brought back small seedlings to plant. From his "tree farm" he provided
Christmas trees for the United Methodist Youth Fellowship to sell to fund their summer trip.
At the age of 82, he became Chairman of the Memorial Gifts Committee at the Methodist
Church and led the committee in securing a set of hand bells.
On November 8, 1975, after an illness of several months, Carl Laney died in
Kennewick, Washington. He was 85 years old. An autopsy indicated that he had leukemia.
He had been married 59 years. According to Harriet, "No one could ask for better love than
we had." The funeral service was at the United Methodist Church. It was a special place for
Carl. He was responsible for the beautiful, handcrafted wooden cross which served as the
focal point for worship in the sanctuary. Reflecting on the departure of her life's companion,
Harriet writes, "Only Carl's love could cause this grief and it is only his love that will help me
make an adjustment to a new life. Of course God's love is the source of it all."
Harriet spent the next year in Kennewick. It was not an easy transition from married
life to widowhood, but her friends, family and church were very supportive. Two years after
Carl's passing, Harriet suffered a severe head injury resulting from a fall as she was leaving
the doctor's office. The accident occurred in October, 1977. Harriet was hospitalized and
never returned to 947 Metaline.
After living for a while with her daughter Miriam, Harriet moved into a retirement center near
her youngest daughter in Vancouver, Washington. She stayed in several different retirement
and convalescent centers over the years as Miriam sought a level of care appropriate to her
needs. It was particularly enjoyable having grandmother in Vancouver because she was
much more accessible to my family. We would often drive across the Columbia River on a
Sunday afternoon to pay her a visit. And how she enjoyed the children! She usually
remembered their names and had a big hug for each one. It was always fun to see her eyes
light up at the sight of her great grandchildren parading into her room!
The Laney clan convened in 1992 to celebrate Harriet's 100th birthday! The celebration was
held in Vancouver, Washington, in the church just across the street from her convalescent
center. It was a great reunion for the Laneys as children, aunts and uncles, and cousins
enjoyed time together. Although a bit confused over all the fuss, Harriet looked beautiful and
enjoyed herself immensely. Her younger brother, Donald, was able to attend the celebration.
It was such a joy to see Harriet and Donald sitting together and chatting like high school kids.
Harriet Celebrating her Hundredth Birthday!
Standing are children Doris, Stewart, Carl, Miriam, Marguerite
Harriet continued in reasonably good health for another 18 months and then began
failing rapidly. Every time I visited I thought it could be my last time with her. Those were
sad times because she was not enjoying the quality of life she had experience for her first 100
years. We prayed that the Lord would soon take her home to heaven. During my last visits
with her I talked to her about death and going to heaven. I once asked her if she might be
afraid of dying. She laughed a bit and said that she was prepared for that. Once I sang
Christian hymns to her and she hummed right along with me.
Harriet passed away on her 102 birthday in 1994. The memorial service was held
several weeks later in the Methodist Church at Kennewick where we had the service for her
beloved Carl 19 years before. The church pastor officiated and I had the privilege of sharing
a part in the service. Several family members took the opportunity of sharing memories from
Harriet's life. Although it was sad to see her life end, we did indeed celebrate the great life
she had lived.
Harriet Laney is one of the finest examples of a Christian I have known. She
consistently demonstrated love and kindness toward all those she met. Her age merely
deepened the beauty of her inner person. Like her husband, Carl, she maintained a rich
since of humor throughout her life. One example of her sense of humor was evidenced with
Marguerite and Miriam brought Harriet for a visit in our home in Portland. When they
drove into our driveway, they were barely able to extract themselves from the car because of
their fits of laughter over a mix-up regarding directions to my house. After a wonderful visit
they departed amid more fits of laughter over Harriet's difficulty in getting her fingers into a
new pair of leather gloves. Seeing this dear old lady enjoying such a fun time with her
daughters was a precious experience for me.
During a visit with grandmother she shared with me her favorite Bible verse, "Give
me understanding that I may live" (Psalm 119:144). Another of her favorites was Psalm
13:6, "I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me." Her letters, which
she sent out with amazing regularity, were masterpieces in the expression of loving thoughts.
Harriet enjoyed many special times with her family, but she also savored times alone.
In a letter she wrote, "It was good to be alone all day to meditate and just think, 'In quietness
and in confidence is my strength' (Isa. 30:15)."
Harriet often spoke of how precious were her memories in the autumn of her life. She
told me once that she often just sits and thinks about the events of her life and the joys she
and Carl shared. Her greatest treasure during the last years of her life, after her family, were
her precious memories.
One of Harriet's favorite stories was the legend of the Forget-me-not. According to
an old legend, after God created the Garden of Eden, He went about naming the flowers.
Then, cautioning each plant not to forget its name, He turned to leave. Suddenly, the small
voice of a diminutive flower murmured timidly, "I don't have a name yet, Lord." Smiling
down at the frightened little blossom, the Lord said, "Since I almost forgot you--and to
remind Me never to forget you--your name shall be "Forget-me-not." Thus the Forget-me-
not became a symbol of remembrance. To me, this story is a reminder of my grandparents,
Carl and Harriet Laney, and many special memories of their lives together.
Carl and Harriet are remembered at this memorial at the cemetery in Odessa, Washington.
Their ashes were scattered in the hayfield at the Laney ranch near Lamona, Washington
where Carl had worked several summers during his college years. The marker reads, "At rest
in the hayfield below the bluff on Cloverleaf ranch."
|The Golden Years
Carl and Harriet Grow Old Together
Carl and Harriet on their visit to Alaska and return to
Kodiak. Harriet enjoyed the roses Carl grew in his