Max Junior Dana
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A red-headed Max joined the Dana family in Ogden, Utah June 25, 1920. He was the fifth child of nine. At the time his family was living in Holbrook, Idaho on a dry farm, about 80 miles from Ogden. Because his mother, Nellie Knight Dana, didn't want to have her baby there, she came by wagon to "civilization" to have Max. His father was Edward S. Dana. In his early years, Max lived in various places in Idaho, Utah and California including Marriott, Ogden, Bountiful, Salt Lake City, Declo, Enterprise, Long Beach, Lodi, and Lockeford.
On a "whim", Max and one of his buddies joined the Marines November 11, 1939 in his hometown of Ogden, Utah. After boot camp, he remained in San Diego for one year. They deployed to Pearl Harbor initially, and then to Wake Island in November 1941.
On the morning of Dec. 7, Max learned of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, but what he and his comrades didn't know was that there were numerous Japanese ships and planes heading for Wake Island at the same time. The Americans had no radar, and around noon, the first wave of 27 enemy bombers sneaked in under heavy clouds.
"They came in so low," Max writes in his memoirs, "that we could see the expressions on their faces." After a16-day barrage in which they gallantly and successfully defended the island they found out that the Americans had already surrendered on the main island. They were taken captive in December 23, 1941 and imprisoned in various Chinese Japanese prison camps. His parents did not find out that he was imprisoned and alive and until May 14, 1942. Undernourished and overworked when released, tough Max Dana, who at 6'0" normally weighed a rugged 180 lbs., was down to 120 lbs. After three and one half years of prison abuse, they had finally worn him down physically — although they could never break his indomitable spirit. This spirit served him well his entire life including his last years.
After his discharge, Max went back home to Utah and to work in the construction business. He married Loretta June Crouch in November 1946. The building of Canyon Ferry Dam brought three of the Dana brothers (and their families) — Lee, Max and Ken — to Helena in 1951. When the dam was completed in 1954, Max remained in construction building roads and highways throughout Montana for the next 12 years. "You can't hardly travel on a stretch of road in Montana without driving on one that I worked on," he wrote in his memoirs.
In 1966, Max and Ken opened Big Sky Ready Mix, a concrete business the brothers owned and operated until they sold it in 1986.
Max and Loretta (who passed away in 1988), raised their three daughters in Helena and East Helena, Montana.
Max married Judy Moritz in 2005 living in Helena and York. Their primary residence was St. George, Utah for the last 15 years.
Max was happiest when he was busy doing "something". He had a great artistic ability finishing many paintings usually in the style of Charlie Russell (a great Montana artist). Throughout the years, his hobbies included snowmobiling, motorcycling, skiing, golfing, hunting and fishing. He loved to go to Alaska on fishing trips. He loved his 1947 army jeep and would delight in roaming the hills in it. He was very active in the East Helena VFW and the Helena Algeria Motor Patrol. Max had a l958 Buick that was the family car. It had been wrecked and had deteriorated in storage. When he was about 80 Max became bored and needed a project so he began restoring the car.
Max is survived by his wife, Judy, three daughters: Carolyn Maxine (Bill Ensign, Beaverton, Oregon), Judy Loretta (Len Stevens, Bettendorf, Iowa) and Kopper Nellie (Greg Slavens, Tigard, Oregon). He also has nine grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers (Lee, Edward and Carl) and two sisters (Gertrude and Melba). His living brother and sisters are Ken, Beth Russell and Valeria Hobbs.
Funeral services will be November 3 at 1 p.m. (viewing starting at 11:30) at Twitchel's Funeral and Cremation Services, 314 N. Rodney, Helena, Montana 59601. Interment will take place at Sunset Memorial Gardens.
We wish to acknowledge the loving and special care given by the Applegate Hospice of St. George, Utah.
Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, (435) 673-2454. Friends may sign his guestbook at www.spilsburymortuary.com.
Published in The Spectrum & Daily News on Oct. 28, 2012
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