L. “Wid” and Nita Disney
L. “Wid” Disney was born on Sept. 14, 1926 in Shelley, Idaho to parents Orlen J. Disney of Delphos, Kansas, and Nora P. Drain of Scott City, Kansas.
He was raised in Eastern Idaho on ranches along the river bottoms of the Snake River on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. He attended several schools in the area including the Thomas School. He left home at an early age and relocated to the Ontario, Ore. area where he pursued what he loved best, ranching and rodeoing.
He joined the Navy in September 1944 and served in World War II as a gunner’s mate in the South Pacific aboard the USS Belleau Wood. He was proud to serve and always spoke highly of those days and remained in contact with many of his shipmates. He received an honorable discharge in June of 1946.
While visiting his sister Barbara in San Jose, Calif. he went to work for Western Electric Corporation where he met J C Arnold, whose sister was to change his life forever, “Nita”.
Nita Jean “Arnold” Disney was born on Oct. 20, 1929 (with her twin, Rita) in Concord, Neb. to parents Hobart Arnold of Montreal, Missouri and Louise Louella French of Concord, Neb. Nita experienced a normal childhood in rural eastern Nebraska, where her dad was the local blacksmith. When she was 13, the family moved to Santa Clara, Calif., “the land of opportunity”. After high school, Nita sang with a local band and started working for the telephone company as an operator. She soon met her brother’s cute friend “Wid”. She always said it was the “Red Cowboy Boots” that first caught her eye.
They were married on June 5, 1948, in San Jose, Calif. They settled in the local area and began their family…their son, Lee, was born in San Jose in 1949. however, the call of the Old West was to overcome Wid and he returned home to the land he loved with his young family where he continued to rodeo for several more years. Nita really took to the mountains and the open skies of Idaho and it became the beginning of a wonderful new life, “together”.
It is difficult to summarize someone’s life in a few short paragraphs. Probably the most amazing character trait, which they both seemed to share, was their extreme optimism. They loved to sing and dance and they lived life to the fullest. They worked hard and played hard, however, like most families, they were not spared from the harsh realities of life. They endured the worst with the loss of their baby son, Shawn in 1961. During those times, they had a way of leaning on each other in order to survive. They were also blessed with two daughters, Christine and Charmaine.
They had a knack for seeking out just the right fixer-upper, “there were many”. They built their first house on East 9th Street in Idaho Falls; it would not be the last. Whether it was a remodel or a new addition, they knew the right end of a hammer and were pretty fair hands, it seemed, at most anything.
They both enjoyed successful careers at the phone company. As the state grew, a changing phone company took them to both sides of the state. For several years they both worked for Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph. They finally transferred back to Idaho Falls with US West where Wid retired, as a manager, with 32 years of service in 1983.
They always maintained a parallel life with their love for farming and ranching. Whether it was a just a garden spot in the back yard, a 40-acre farm in Payette, or a 300-acre ranch in Hamer, they were not truly at home unless they were canning or pickling something. They really were modern day pioneers where the word failure did not exist.
After retirement, in search of what to do next, they relaxed by carving out of the desert a “falconry hunting camp” for Keith Carpenter. The camp was located approximately 8 miles from the nearest paved road, just west of Dubois, Idaho. Extremely unique, it was a falcon hunter’s paradise. They maintained the camp for the next 7 years where Nita was the official cook for camp guests. Wid still found time for a cattle drive or two with his neighbors a few miles from the camp. Always the cowboy!
After leaving what became known as “Falcon Crest”, they purchased a log home on the banks of the Salmon River. Of course, they doubled the size of the original home with a large addition. Their newly constructed bedroom sat less than 40 feet from the water’s edge. They enjoyed many evenings on their back porch sipping Nita’s wine and watching rafters on the river.
They were always ready for a picnic or a weekend with their fishing buddies, the Shipleys, the Hills, and the Schorzmans. Many, many years they enjoyed singing around the campfire with Ray and his guitar, or Larry and his concertina. Sometimes they even fished.
After 13 years, they left their home on the Salmon River, due to health issues. Wid and the “Wine Lady” relocated to Meridian, Idaho in 2005 where they remained active and maintained a sizable garden. They continued wine making and canning and enjoyed entertaining their friends.
Wid and Nita both fell seriously ill in February of 2012. It was their desire to remain in their home and accommodations were made to fulfill their wishes. Wid passed away from complications of emphysema and diabetes on May 25, 2012, just two weeks before their 64th wedding anniversary. Nita followed Wid on Oct. 15, 2013 after a 21-month struggle with Muscular Dystrophy. They never complained and passed with dignity and grace.
They easily made friends wherever they lived and always took part in the community. They belonged to the Telecomm Pioneers, a retiree community service organization and were active members of the Elks for more than 50 years.
Wid was preceded in death by his parents; three sisters, Barbara Howell, Burnice Hicks and Ramona Wheeler; his brother, Carl Disney. Nita was preceded by both of her parents; two brothers, J.C. Arnold and Raleigh Arnold; two sisters, Gwen Good and Mary Lou Novakovich and their son Shawn Michael.
Wid is survived by his sister, Karen Barrows of Santa Barbara, Calif.; sister-in-law, Edna Disney of Blackfoot, Idaho. Nita is survived by three sisters, Loretta Bacon of Redding, Calif.; Maxine Chuck and her husband Don, of Hollister, Calif.; Rita Sanchez (her twin) of Santa Clara, Calif.; sister-in-law, Lavon Arnold, of Anderson, Calif.. They are also survived by their children, son, Lee of Corcoran, Calif., daughter Christine Deveau and her husband Paul, of Boise, Idaho and daughter Charmaine Rhea, of Seattle, Wash.; three grandchildren, three grea-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
In a small private ceremony, Wid and Nita were interred together April 14, 2014 at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, Boise, Idaho.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Telecomm Pioneers, c/o Velma Callender, 751 E. Holly Street, Boise, Idaho 83712.