Norman Rex Daniel, 95, of Canyon, TX passed away on April 19, 2022.
Graveside services will be at 1:00 p.m., Friday, April 22, 2022, at Llano East Cemetery, Field of Freedom. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Blvd.
Norman was born in Pattonsburg, Missouri on October 12, 1926, to Clara and Dee Daniel. Norman joined the United States Navy on April 26, 1944. He reached the rank of Gunner’s Mate Third Class while serving on board the destroyer USS Zellars (DD-777) from October 25th, 1944, until May 6th, 1946, when he was honorably discharged. Norman returned to Pattonsburg High School following his discharge from the Navy. He graduated from Pattonsburg High School in 1948. Following graduation Norman attended Northwest Missouri State Teacher’s College.
Norman entered the field of engineering and quality control. During his career he worked for Douglas Aircraft, Ford Motor Company, and the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and Mason & Hanger, the Silas Mason Company. He began his career with Mason & Hanger, the Silas Mason Company at the Iowa Ordinance Plant in Burlington, Iowa in 1956 and was transferred to the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas in 1960. Norman left the Pantex Plant in 1969 his to pursue his interest in buying and selling cars. He owned and operated Brown-Daniel Imports from 1968 until 1971. He then opened Norman Daniel Autos which was in business from 1971 until 2011. He entered semi-retirement in 2011. Norman enjoyed the car business and always liked buying and selling cars. Norman remained active in semi-retirement and loved talking cars with everyone.
Norman was preceded in death by his parents, Clara and Dee Daniel, two sisters, Mary Minor of Pattonsburg, Missouri, and Eva Dunlap of Belton, Missouri, three brothers, Junior Ray Daniel of Overland Park, Kansas, Harold Lee Daniel of Pattonsburg, Missouri, and Charles E. Daniel of McFall, Missouri, and two stepsons, Steven Miller of Amarillo, Texas, and Paul Miller of Amarillo, Texas.
Survivors include his wife, Clara Daniel, his sister, Evelyn Hartley, of Cameron, Missouri, a daughter, Deborah Ann Webb and husband Tom, two sons, Gary Dee Daniel and wife Brenda, and Stephen Earl Daniel, all of Amarillo, Texas, a stepdaughter, Eileen Miller and husband Ron, of Panhandle, Texas, two stepsons, Arnold Miller and wife LaDonna, of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Edwin Miller and wife Tammy, of Amarillo, Texas, and 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Good afternoon, my name is Mary Poynor, and I am a family friend of Brenda and Gary Daniel, and we have learned to love them and their family through our dear daughter-in-law, Tracie.
First of all, on behalf of the family, I want to extend their gratitude to all the relatives, friends, and attendees who have come to honor, Norman Rex Daniel today.
Norman, “Norm”, Tom (from high school), Stormin’ Norman (from his car selling days), and Cockeye were names he was given throughout his 95 years. He also had a variety of roles in his life: son, sailor, husband, father, uncle, grandfather, mentor, and friend. In this short time, I will share a few of these roles and memories shared with me.
Norm’s life was done his way and on his terms. The Frank Sinatra song, “My Way” is how he lived his life. He loved God and read his Bible; he would be the first to admit he did not do it perfectly. Norm kept a “Books of Quotes” in a spiral that I will refer to frequently today.
Norm was born October 12, 1926, in Pattonsburg, Missouri to Dee Clay Daniel and Clara Velma Daniel. He was the second of 7 children. His early school years and high school years were spent in Pattonsburg, Missouri. His generation has been rightly named the Greatest Generation, and truly, he was part of that great generation as he dropped out of high school during his Junior year at age 17 and enlisted in the Navy to fight in World War II. He reminisced in his papers how he followed his dad around with enlistment papers for his dad to sign since he was not yet 18. Passionately, his dad asked him to wait until he was drafted, but obviously, his father relented, and Norm joined the Navy at the young age of 17 on April 26, 1944.
His training was brief—boot camp and training on the destroyer ship, USS Route #511. After training, he boarded a new ship, the USS Zellers, and headed for the South Pacific. During a stop in Hawaii, he was able to visit with his brother who had also enlisted in the Navy.
While Norm was in the Navy, he spent most of his enlistment time in the South Pacific on the USS Zellers. He reached the rank of Runner’s Mate Third Class. Often, he would send money home to his parents from his Navy pay. One dark day, the Zellers was attacked by three Kamikaze pilots—one was shot down by Norm’s gun crew and one missed the boat and landed in the water. But one plane crashed into the ship’s port side. 29 Navy crewmen were killed and 37 injured. Norm noted in his journal that the attack on this ship was the same day that President Franklin Roosevelt died. Fortunately, Norm wasn’t injured, but sailed on to Okinawa where he was engaged in battle and a hurricane became a furious force. He was injured during this storm, and he was honorably discharged and returned home.
Upon his discharge from the service, Norm returned home to Pattonsburg and resumed high school. His children said the war changed him, and he was a changed man who didn’t talk about the war much. He witnessed and lived the horrors of war at a very young age.
During his high school years, his favorite sport was basketball, and his favorite song was “Now Is the Hour” by Bing Crosby. Lyrics of this song are:
“Now is the hour when we must say goodbye,
Soon you’ll be sailing across the sea,
While you’re away, oh, then, remember me,
When you return, you’ll find me waiting here.”
His Senior class motto was: Life is what we make it. This was his life motto, too.
Norm attended college and became an engineer. He worked for Douglas Aircraft, Ford Motor Company, the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and Mason and Hanger in Burlington, Iowa. He moved his family from Burlington to Amarillo in 1960. He left his job at Mason and Hanger in 1969 and pursued his passion of buying and selling cars.
One legacy that Norm left his kids and grandkids was to pursue their passion as their work or job. Once his career was cars, his son, Gary, said he never worked another day in his life. One highlight of his sales was when he sold a yellow Cadillac to Stanley Marsh, which was buried in the ground at Cadillac Ranch. He employed and helped many people through his business. After his car sales ended, he continued to sell tires until his death. He loved selling tires, and he often said, if he could do it all over again, that’s what he would do. His quote for selling cars was: “The time to sell is when you have a buyer.”
To his grandkids, he was full of advice:
- Go to college.
- The key to success is knowledge.
- Dreams are what makes existence tolerable.
- To be a winner, all you need to give is all you have.
- Don’t Park the car in the garage with an empty tank.
- The jobs not done until you put your tools away.
Norm loved: horses, basketball, football, horse races, playing Bingo, and watching Dallas or Dynasty. He adored living in the country, and he advised: “Never trust someone else saddling your horse.”
Here are some reflections from his family:
Steve, his son, said:
- He was a loving man and cared.
- He helped many people and gave them a hand up.
- He took care of everyone, and many people would not be where they are today without Norm.
- He would get rooms in motels for those down on their luck.
- He was a good, honest man.
- One man described him as a second Dad.
- He coached his children in Kid’s Inc.
Gary, his son, said: “He could sell anyone anything.”
Tracie and Jamie, his granddaughters, said he would always call on their birthdays and say, “I am 50 years older than you today or 60 years older than you are today.”
Arnold, his stepson, said he “lived by his words”.
Eileen, his stepdaughter said he helped 3 of the 4 stepsons by employing them at the car lot. He recognized talent within them. He was generous, loving, sweet, and kind and always desired to do better.
God blessed Norm with a sharp mind until the end. Steve took very good care of him for the past four years. Thank you, Steve, for that!
He died peaceably on April 19. He believed in heaven. Some quotes in his journal about heaven were:
- Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there.
- One of the pleasant things about going home is you don’t have to make a reservation.
- Heaven never gets worse only better. Hell never gets better only worse.
Norm was preceded in death by his parents, Clara and Dee Daniel, two sisters, Mary Minor of Pattonsburg, Missouri, and Eva Dunlap of Belton, Missouri, three brothers, Junior Ray Daniel of Overland Park, Kansas, Harold Lee Daniel of Pattonsburg, Missouri, and Charles E. Daniel of McFall, Missouri. Two stepsons, Steven Miller of Amarillo, Texas, and Paul Miller of Amarillo, Texas.
Survivors include his wife, Clara Daniel, his sister, Evelyn Hartley, of Cameron, Missouri, and Daughter, Deborah Ann Webb and Husband Tom, Two sons Gary Dee Daniel and Wife Brenda, and Stephen Earl Daniel, all of Amarillo, Texas, a stepdaughter, Eileen Miller and husband Ron of Panhandle, Texas, two stepsons, Arnold Miller and wife LaDonna of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Edwin Miller and wife Tammy of Amarillo Texas and 12 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren.
Gary, his son, asked that this poem be included in the service today:
When Tomorrow Starts Without Me – by David M. Romano
When tomorrow starts without me
And I’m not here to see
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
Are filled with tears for me
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry
The way you did today
While thinking of the many things
We didn’t get to say
I know how much you love me
As much as I love you
And each time you think of me
I know you’ll miss me too
But when tomorrow starts without me
Please try to understand
That an angel came and called my name
And took me by the hand
And said my place was ready
In Heaven far above
And that I’d have to leave behind
All those I dearly love
But when I walked through Heaven’s gate
I felt so much at home
When God looked down and smiled at me
From His great golden throne
He said this is eternity
And all I promised you
Today your life on earth is past
But here it starts anew
I promise no tomorrow
For today will always last
And since each day’s the same way
There’s no longing for the past
So when tomorrow starts without me
Don’t think we’re far apart
For every time you think of me
I’m right here in your heart
For the family, remembering Norm and his life brings many emotions. The only place one can put these emotions is at the foot of the cross and in Jesus’ hands.
Goodbye, Norm, you were loved by many and will be missed. You touched many lives. Rest in peace!
Father, we are thankful for Norm and his life, and we know he is in your hands now. Would you please reach down as the God of All Comfort and comfort each of his children and grandchildren in the way each person needs? May we all seek You and live a life for You and You alone.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
Thanks again for coming. Now we honored to have the military with us. God bless America!