Jesse Royce Daniel, Major, USAF, Ret., was born on October 31, 1931, in Sims, Texas, and went home to be with the Lord on August 9, 2019, in Dallas.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 59 and a half years, Kathryn Blakey Daniel, and all of his eleven brothers and sisters. He was the last, and one of the best, of his generation on both sides of the family. He is survived by his second wife, Nancy B. Daniel, his only daughter Michelle Dawn Daniel, three grandchildren, Nicole Hansen (Christian Hansen), Carolyn V. Chadwick, and James H. (“Jack” Chadwick), and one precious great-granddaughter, Margaret Kathryn Hansen. He is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends who adored him.
Jesse was born on October 31, 1931, on a farm near Simms, Texas, the son of Jesse H. Daniel and Ruth Johnson Daniel. As the eleventh of twelve children in a homestead family, Jesse had a hard-working childhood, but also had a lot of fun with his brothers and sisters. He taught himself to play piano by correspondence course in high school and loved to sing and clown around with them all. While he was growing up, Jesse had to miss six weeks of school every spring and summer to help with planting and harvesting. In spite of that, he graduated early from James Bowie High School and put himself through college with scholarships, ROTC, working on the college farm, and giving haircuts for 50 cents each. After graduating from East Texas State Teachers College in 1952 (in just three years), he received a commission in the United States Air Force. He later received a Masters Degree in Education as well.
Thanks to one of his college roommates, Tom Blakey, he was introduced to the love of his life, Kathryn Blakey. They were married on April 18, 1953 and traveled the world together as he served his country. As an Air Force Officer, he ran a top-secret postal courier station in Wiesbaden, Germany, was a Disaster Control Officer at Bentwaters Royal Air Force Base in England during the Vietnam war, developed training curriculum in Virginia and Mississippi, and was a safety officer at Randolph AFB in San Antonio. He also pioneered the development of training films for the Air Force during his time at Randolph. After his retirement, he ran his own engineering recruiting business, DanielSearchUSA.
But more than anything else, Jesse loved his family. He adored his wife Kathryn and their only daughter, Michelle, and his grandchildren Nicole, Carolyn and Jack. He made them his first priority, always. When Kathryn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1974, he took an emergency transfer to Lackland AFB in San Antonio so she could receive the best medical treatment available. Thanks to his tender care and the grace of God, she lived an additional 38 years.
During Kathryn’s last illness, he sacrificed himself around the clock to take care of her. It was Michelle’s prayer that he would somehow have a chance to have some fun again – and after Kathryn passed away, along came Nancy Daniel. She was the widow of his first cousin and feisty and funny, and he fell for her immediately. They were married on November 30, 2013. Nancy and her huge extended family made the last few years of his life full of love and laughter.
Jesse was a gentle, patient, and loving father and grandfather, and the biggest fan and greatest encourager of everyone he loved. He constantly bragged about all those he loved to everyone he knew.
Throughout his life, he never met a stranger. He knew the name of the waitress at Cracker Barrel, all of her kids’ names, and where they went to school. He had an almost magical way with animals and love to pet them and sing to them. He was so proud of having a Halloween birthday and always told people “that explains a lot.” He loved to fish but rarely got to because he was too busy helping everyone else with their tangled lines. He loved music and taught Michelle and her kids to love music – there was always a song in the car.
One of his bonus kids described him as “the most honorable man I have ever met” and said that he always did the right thing, no matter how difficult, and that was true. His prayer every morning was that Jesus would show him what to do each day, and as a result, his life was an incredible reflection of the love of God. We will miss him beyond words.
Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12, at Restland, 13005 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75243. Funeral services are 11:00 a.m. at The Way Christian Fellowship, located in the historic Savoy Methodist Church at the corner of Commerce and Fowler Streets in Savoy, Texas, 75479. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to 1878 Savoy Sanctuary Preservation Society, 40812 N. 26th St., Cave Creek, Arizona 85331