Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Lakeman, 92, hard worker, painter


February 4, 2021

Daniel Lakeman.

Painter and former resident Daniel Lakeman, 92, died Jan. 20 in hospice care at the Sheridan Veterans Administration Medical Center in Sheridan, Wyoming. The cause was complications from osteoporosis, his daughter Mary Jean Sebens said.

Lakeman and his wife, also named Mary Jean, lived in Haines for about five years beginning in 2005. A slight, quiet man with thick gray hair, he worked at his daughter and son-in-law's store, Mountain Market, dressed in all white, a custom he adopted many years earlier due to his faith. He painted the store's exterior completely when he was 86 in 2014. "My dad was old school," Sebens said. "He hand-scraped the entire building, each shingle, and then painted by brush."

Lakeman worked hard his whole life, and along with his wife raised five daughters, a son, and his younger brother. They never stayed in one location very long.

"He was a restless soul," Sebens said, as well as fearless. "I calculated that from the time we arrived in California until I graduated from high school we had moved every eighteen months, even if it was only down the street. We didn't have a lot of furniture."

While painting the tall towers of an apartment complex, her father "kept one toe on the ladder rung, and one on the windowsill, forty feet up in the air," she said. He taught his children how to paint and they often worked with him. "He sang along to Ray Price tunes, especially Danny Boy, and had a great sense of humor," she said. Sebens recalled life with her father as a series of adventures and lessons, typically unplanned and sometimes hard, but in hindsight they often became very funny.

Like the time he was pulled over for reading while driving on a freeway. "He had a book across the steering wheel, (probably the Bible), and was reading while he drove. "He was way ahead of the curve when it comes to texting while driving! A motorist passing by reported it and he was ticketed for road reading," Sebens said.

Daniel Augustus Lakeman was born on April 2, 1928 to Daniel Augustus Lakeman Sr. and homemaker Margaret (Ahern) Lakeman in Bridgeport, Ct. His parents divorced and then he lived with his sister Mary Jean, (yes, another one), his brother Edward, his mother, and grandparents. He left school at 16 to help support his mother after her second husband was lost at sea during World War II. He joined the Merchant Marines, then the Army and, lastly, the Navy in the Korean War, in which he piloted a landing craft. He returned to Thomaston and married Mary Jean Glendenning on June 25, 1955. His mother died a week later, leaving the newlyweds her young son to raise.

They moved to Toledo, Ohio, where three children were born. He was a church janitor and drove a school bus. In Tucson, they had two more children, and by the early 1960s they were in California and had their youngest daughter. He struggled with alcoholism until he quit cold turkey, crediting prayers to the Virgin Mary and his wife's support. He was diagnosed with emphysema in the early 1970s, and refusing to be hospitalized, he detoxified himself for months with a raw vegetable and fruit juice diet. After recovering, he started a painting business.

His faith took him full circle from the Catholic Church of his childhood, to the Unitarians, The Church Universal and Triumphant, and back to the Roman Catholic Church. Over the course of several years he repainted the historic Mission San Luis Rey Oceanside and was most proud of that. He and his wife moved from Haines to Albuquerque in 2009 to join a parish that held daily masses in Latin. The Lakemans eventually relocated to Wyoming, settling near family in Sheridan.

"He told me that he loved to paint because he felt gratified by the process of taking a building that was old and shabby and making it look totally new. He loved the before and after, and he took his time deliberately and carefully to make that happen," grandson Tristan Sebens said, noting that Lakeman was the last one to paint Mountain Market and, "it still looks fresh."

In addition to his wife he leaves brother William Fifield, children Carleen Tucker, Aileen Butterfield, Sean Lakeman, Dannette Burnham, Mary Jean Sebens and Shannon Michelson; 15 grandchildren including Tristan Sebens and Logan Borcik locally, fifteen great grandchildren, and one great-great grandson.

A service was held Jan. 26. at Holy Name Catholic Church in Sheridan. Cards may be sent to Mary Jean Lakeman, 200 Smith St., #308, Sheridan WY 82801.


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