I’ve been getting real nostalgic here lately and this post is no exception. When visiting the family for Christmas my aunt gave me a massive photo album filled with some old (and very old) family photos. I now have the monumental task of scanning hundreds of delicate original prints (like the photo above). She also gave me an article that was in my grandma Cleo’s retirement community newsletter, which I’ve included below. Reading it, I learned quite a few things about my grandparents that I never knew. While I knew my Grandpa Bill was in the Navy, I didn’t know that he survived a torpedo attack. Yikes!
December, 2012 Newsletter
Cleo Douville – Born to Travel
by Mel Martin
Cleo Douville loves to travel. You can say that she was born to travel, since she arrived unexpectedly on August 13, 1923 while her parents were visiting Spokane from their home in Essex, Montana. From the time that she was 18, Cleo was traveling somewhere – by train, boat, motor home, etc. She was raised in Essex and attended a one-room schoolhouse where the same teacher taught all eight grades.
She went to high school in Kalispell, Montana – taking the train back and forth on weekends. Coincidentally, Cleo’s father was an engineer for the Great Northern Railroad. She met her husband, Bill, in a unique way. He was dating one of Cleo’s cousins, but that cousin couldn’t roller skate. Cleo could, and she skated away with Bill.
Bill and Cleo married in 1943 in Spokane. Their marriage lasted 49 years until his death in 1992. Bill (a graduate of Gonzaga) was an Electrical Engineer with Kaiser until he retired in 1979. Cleo says, “He was the perfect man. I never met one better than him.” They have three children – Ranae, (also a graduate of Gonzaga) who lives in Rathdrum, ID; Tad (Thomas) who lives in Spokane; and Colleen who lives in Seattle. The Douvilles also have four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Bill Douville served in the Navy during WWII and survived a torpedo blowing up his ship off the shores of France. He left the Navy after the war in the rank of Lieutenant JG. Cleo remembers fondly flying down to Florida three times to meet Bill’s ship as it came to port. After the war, Bill worked as an Electrical Engineer while Cleo earned her nursing degree from Sacred Heart. Then, Kaiser reassigned Bill to New Orleans (where Colleen was born). The family traveled there by train and stayed for three years before moving back to Spokane.
In the 1970s, Kaiser assigned Bill to their plant in Tema, located in Ghana, Africa. They took every opportunity while there to travel to Europe – Germany, Austria, France, and Great Britain. They visited friends in Scotland and went to the French Riviera where they gambled in Monaco. Cleo says, “We lost so we left.” Later, after Bill’s death, Cleo traveled with 12 Irish cousins to Ireland.
After Africa, they returned to Spokane where they bought snowmobiles to scoot around Priest Lake. The Douvilles also had a 28-foot cabin cruiser and belonged for 20 years to the Spokane Yacht Club. They sometimes went boating in British Columbia and Alberta. Cleo and Bill traveled in their motor home to Yuma, Arizona and Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. Of course, they made it to Hawaii too – and took an Alaskan cruise. (Did they ever stay home?) Cleo says, “We both loved to travel. We were like grown kids.”
Cleo moved to Orchard Crest three years ago. She used to ski and snowmobile, but now she says that her only active sport is “…traveling to Wine and Cheese”. She reads a lot in addition to smiling and laughing often. Our Cleo Douville has led a rewarding life and we can say this about her, “She was born to travel, (actually born during travel) and she did!”