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Eunice Louise Perks Hayes, 97

| July 3, 2024 1:00 AM

Eunice Louise Perks Hayes passed away Dec. 1, 2023, at the Veterans Home in Walla Walla, Wash. Eunice was born March 3, 1926, to Floyd and Hazel McKeen in Le Anse, Mich. 

Hazel was diagnosed with tuberculosis, so the family moved to Oregon so she could be placed in a sanitorium. After Hazel’s passing in 1935, Floyd placed Eunice and brother Elwain in a children's home in Salem, Ore. A year later, she was adopted by Herbert and Helene Davis and began her life on a farm.

Eunice attended Meadowlark School near Gamblin Lake through the eighth grade. When the time for High School arrived, it was not feasible to commute the 18 miles to Sandpoint. Instead, Eunice boarded in several homes in Sandpoint during those years. She subsequently met Floyd Perks, and they became engaged.

After her graduation in 1944, she and Floyd were married in the Davis living room June 6, 1944. The couple soon moved into the house at 215 Forest Avenue in Sandpoint that Floyd and his father had built. Eunice found herself immediately employed at The Eclipse Printery, a business that Floyd started when he was twelve years old. The family grew with the addition of Hazel (1945), George (1947), and Christian (1950). Floyd was a member of the local Masonic Lodge, and Eunice soon joined The Order of Eastern Star. She enjoyed that membership for the rest of her life and served many local offices including several terms as Worthy Matron. She was also a Guardian for Job’s Daughters. Floyd was the official unofficial Santa Claus for Sandpoint for twenty-five years during their marriage, and Mrs. Claus often accompanied him on his appointed rounds. Eunice and Floyd were also long-time active members of The First Christian Church in Sandpoint. Floyd passed away April 16, 1976, after a four-year battle with cancer. 

Eunice hosted exchange students for several years, later supervising local visiting students and their host families in Sandpoint. In this capacity, she was able to make memorable trips to Washington, D.C. and to the Scandinavian countries. Eunice continued to work at the Eclipse, now Selkirk Stationery, and a frequent customer was Eugene Hayes, a local artist and sign painter and longtime friend of the family. Gene and all his brothers had survived World War II. Unfortunately, after returning home, Gene lost his right hand in a flour mill accident. Gene went to art school to enhance his existing talent and learn sign painting. Gene had lost his wife, Glenna McGee, also to cancer. While Eunice was working at the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum, she called Gene to do some museum sign work. The relationship grew and the pair were married in 1988. 

After living in Sandpoint for a few years, the Hayeses moved to Joseph, Ore. Gene continued his painting business including several murals on buildings in the area. Eunice was always by Gene’s side helping with art shows, gallery sales and bookkeeping. They kept active in community and arts activities in Wallowa County and beyond, including membership in the North Idaho Draft Horse Association, the Wallowa County Handcrafters Guild, and the American Legion. They especially enjoyed get-togethers and holiday celebrations with family members and taking frequent scenic drives throughout the county. 

As their health declined, Eunice and Gene moved to Gene’s son Norman’s care home in Elgin, Ore., for three years. Then in 2019 Eunice and Gene moved to Walla Walla, Wash., to be close to Gene’s daughters. They spent their final years at the Walla Walla Veterans Home, often visited by their daughters and other friends and family. Gene passed away Sep. 13, 2020. Eunice remained at the Veterans Home until her passing. Having lived to the age of 97, Eunice outlived all the friends and family of her generation. Two members of the next generation preceded her in death. Her son George Perks passed Jan. 15, 2014, and her stepson-in-law David Messer died Sep. 29, 2009. 

Eunice is survived by Hazel Ann (Mike) Sutton, Pocatello, Idaho, Kathy (George) Perks, Spokane, Wash., and Christian (Christine) Perks, Yakima, Wash., Gene’s children, Norman (Melissa) Hayes, Nadine (David) Messer, Susan (Len) Laabs, and John (Linda) Hayes. Eunice is also survived by 14 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. 

A celebration of life will be held July 6, 2024, at the Coffelt’s Funeral Chapel, 109 N. Division, Sandpoint, Idaho, at 2 p.m. Family and friends are welcome.

Family and friends are invited to sign Eunice’s online guest book at www.coffeltfuneral.com.

Arrangements are under the care of Coffelt Funeral Service.