&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Darlene Owyn stands beside one of the garden features at the lakeside home she and her late-husband Allan purcha” title=”398a” width=”” height=”” class=”size-FULL”>
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Darlene Owyn stands beside one of the garden features at the lakeside home she and her late-husband Allan purcha
CHESAW – “Flabbergasted” that’s how Darlene Owyn said she felt when Mary Ellen Fields said they wanted her to be Grand Marshal at this year’s Chesaw Fourth of July Rodeo.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Owyn, who many in Oroville may still remember as Darlene Kidwell.
This year’s Grand Marshal says she’s been celebrating the Fourth in Chesaw for most of her life, even winning the 100 yard dash during the kids’ games back when she was 10 years old.
“That’s when they ran the race right down the main street and it was gravel,” she said. “Celebrating the Fourth of July in Chesaw was always the highlight of my summer.”
While she was running foot races her brothers Lloyd, Murrel and Waldon Loney were riding in the rodeo as was her first husband – George Kidwell.
“I kind of grew up around the corral fence,” she said.
She and George Kidwell were married for 45 years when he passed away. Together they raised three children – Lawana, Keith and Kent.
“They’re all doing well… my daughter and her husband Steve are in Idaho where they have been in education for over 30 years, Keith is in Hong Kong and Kent is in Willamina, Oregon.”
There father husband managed orchards in the Oroville area.
“He was a cowboy at heart. He and is brother won the log sawing competition at Chesaw nine years in a row,” she said.
This year’s Grand Marshal says she herself worked many jobs in the orchards growing up and then packed apples for 27 years. She was also a baker at the school for 13 years and that was the job she liked best.
“That was my favorite job… baking for 650 kids,” she said.
Unlike today, many of her classmates stayed or returned to the area after graduating high school. Those that didn’t, still keep in touch with annual class reunions. Her class of 1947 meets each year with the classes of 1945 and 1946.
She retired in 1996 and when she was 68 an Oroville classmate, Allan Owyn, home for a class reunion asked her to marry him.
“Of course I said ‘no, I don’t know you now,” she said. “But 60 days later we were married and we moved to Port Townsend. He didn’t want me to work and we were there for 13 years.”
Her second husband passed away a short time ago. “Next year we would have been married for 10 years,” she said.
Owyn describes Allan as being a “sort of traveling mortician” filling in for others in his field in the Tacoma area when they went on vacation. He later built his own funeral home in Port Townsend.
What the couple did most, however, was travel – going to places she’d never been to before, like Ireland.
“When George was alive we worked. With Allan we traveled,” said Owyn.
The Grand Marshal was born in Airdrie, Alberta to parents who were from Ohio and North Dakota and had met and married in Canada. When Owyn was five years old they moved to Oroville, with stops in the Portland, Ore. area first.
“They were trying to find the land of milk and honey… the land in Alberta they were trying to farm was wore out and when we went to Portland dad found it to be too wet. We moved here and I’ve been in this part of the world ever since.”
Although it has been a number of years, Owyn says she is even going to ride a horse in the parade.
“Dave Leslie promised to get me a gentle horse,” she said, while trying on the cowboy had she plans to wear at the rodeo.