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Our saddest day, Nov. 3, 2008, was the best day for Darrel Dean Moen, age 61. This was the day he entered into the kingdom of heaven, leaving behind his worn-out earthly body, never to suffer in pain again.

Darrel was born Aug. 14, 1947, in Billings, the oldest son of Oscar and Vivian Cline Moen. He lived his boyhood years and attended schools in Billings; Federal Way, Wash.; and Oxnard, Calif. He graduated from Hueneme High School in Oxnard in 1965.

Some of his happiest memories were of the many family gatherings of both the Cline and the Moen families. Other favorite memories were listening to his grandfather Joe Cline relating tales of his adventures riding shotgun on the Bozeman Trail stagecoach. Perhaps these stories birthed Darrel's lifelong love of Western television shows and movies.

In November of 1965, he made the decision that changed the course of his life forever: he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He shared many humorous stories about his basic training experience, saying it was a real eye-opener! One of his proudest moments was actually being called a Marine for the first time at his graduation ceremony.

Shortly thereafter, he met a blonde California beauty named Frances Green. After a whirlwind courtship, they married and set up housekeeping at Darrel's first duty station. He soon decided that being a jet engine mechanic was not the job for him so he applied for counterintelligence school and was accepted. There, his work ethic and determination served him well. He often said he had to work twice as hard and study twice as long as any of his other classmates just to keep pace with them.

Darrel and Fran were blessed with a baby girl they named Nicole Rae. Time with his family was cut short, however, as he was soon on his way to Vietnam. It was while he was there doing the counterintelligence work he was trained to do that he felt he had finally found where he belonged. Unfortunately, his marriage became a casualty of his Vietnam tours of duty, causing him to become even more dedicated to his work. He was wounded in action, earning a Purple Heart medal. In November of 1972, he was severely injured in a car crash. He spent two and a half months in hospitals, then transferred to the Miles City VA Hospital, where he spent the next five months recuperating. It was there he met the love of his life, Diane Marie Herauf. They married on Oct. 13, 1973, and, at the time of his death, had celebrated 35 years together.

With the guidance of his aunt, Olga Mollerstuen, Darrel began to build houses in Kimberly Heights subdivision. As the housing market began to wane, he shifted his interest to managing several different poker rooms around Billings over the following years.

In 1985, a baby daughter, Danice Joy, was born.

During the next few years, symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder became unbearable and unmanageable for him, and he slipped further into a deep depression. It was with the help and understanding of fellow combat veterans and the staff of the Vets Center that he was able to make peace with the fact that the work that he loved so much and the events it caused had wounded him so deeply.

In March of 1990, the single most important event of his life took place. At a Sunday morning service at a World Wide Dream Builders weekend function in Ocean Shores, Wash., Darrel accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and asked Him into his heart. He began to think about being baptized the way Jesus was, saying "If Jesus was baptized in a river, then I will be too." He began to search for the perfect place and found it - a small sandy beach on the bank of the Yellowstone River near the Duck Creek Bridge. On Oct. 22, 1992, Darrel, Diane and Danice were baptized in the river by Pastor Clint Compton.

In 1993, a delightful surprise baby girl came along - Deborah Vivian.

The following year, Darrel suffered a slight stroke. Even though he recovered quickly, his health began to slowly decline. Residual effects of the earlier car crash and numerous surgeries caused him to suffer constant and often debilitating pain. Once, when asked if he could live his life over again, would he change the day of the accident, his reply was this: "God wanted to get my attention and I wouldn't listen, so he used drastic measures. No, I wouldn't change anything."

In recent years, Darrel preferred being home with "his girls" and seldom went out. He enjoyed teasing his new baby grandson, Jase, into giggles and smiles and, never losing his sense of humor, joked, "He looks so cute without teeth; can't say the same about myself though!"

Daddy, truth be told, I looked for and needed to see your "thumbs up" sign before orchestra concerts, even though I acted like it embarrassed me. Now it's my turn to give you "thumbs up"! (Love, Dani)

Daddy, you always encouraged me to get good grades and made me feel good about myself when I did. I loved how we went to lunch, just the two of us, and talked politics. It was so fun because we had the same views. (Love, Debbie)

Darrel was preceded in death by his parents, Oscar and Vivian; and a younger brother, Darwin.

His survivors include his wife Diane; daughters Nicole, Danice and Deborah; and his grandchildren, Patricio, Vicente, Serenity, Mason and Jase. He also leaves behind two beloved brothers, Dennis (Athena) and Dwight (Lisa). There are also many cousins and several nieces and nephews as well.

A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, at the Heights Family Worship Center at 2345 Hawthorne Lane.

Semper fi, my darling. You were indeed always faithful. (And yes, I have my lipstick on!) Love, Diane.

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