Laban Daniel Arnold was born the youngest child of Daniel Simon Arnold and Tracie M. Balitz in Platte, Benzie, Michigan, USA on Thursday, October 10, 1929. The official birth record we have from Benzie county shows that Laban was born to “Daniel Arnold, Jr.”, which make sense considering his father was also a Daniel. However, it also shows his mother’s name as “Frances Arnold”. Is this the infamous “brother from another mother”, or a simple clerical error. We’ll assume the latter. It appears there was an effort in 1981 to correct the record, but we’re not sure that ever happened. The state of Michigan Certificate of Birth Registration lists his parents as Daniel and Tracie.
When Laban was born, he had three older brothers to greet him:
On April 10, 1930 it was reported that Laban (Census-Name: Laban D. Arnold), 6 months of age, was born in Michigan and currently lived in a $75/month rental [DEA: Census says Rental $75, but this is much more likely the value of the farm than the monthly rent.] on a farm, with a radio, in Platte, Benzie, Michigan. His mother and father were both born in Michigan. He lived in a household of 6. Based on the age given to the census official, his birth year is 1929.Source: 1930 Census [1930-US-Census-Michigan-Benzie-Platte, District 10-17, Sheet 2B]
When Laban was not yet five years old, in July of 1934, his brother Alton Leonard Arnold died of pneumonia.
Laban received several certificates of honor for regular attendance, good deportment, and commendable progress during the first grade. He averaged A’s and B’s in every subject – arithmetic, drawing, language/grammar, penmanship, reading, and music – in first and second grade. He was promoted to third grade in May of 1938.
On April 6, 1940 it was reported that Laban (Census-Name: Laban D. Arnold), 10 years of age, was born in Michigan and currently lived on a farm they owned valued at $150 in Platte, Benzie, Michigan. This is the same place he lived five years prior. He lived in a household of 4. Laban had completed grade 3, and had recently been in school. Based on the age given to the census official, his birth year is 1929/1930.Source: 1940 Census [1940-US-Census-Michigan-Benzie-Platte, District 10-19, Sheet 2A]
In May of 1942, Laban was given a Bible by his Aunt Lillian. She wrote in it: “Dear Laban, Let this book of truth and comfort, Guide your foot steps day by day, Let it lead you by God’s mercy, To a land of endless day.”
At the end of the 1942-43 school year, Laban was promoted to eight grade. His report card showed A’s in citizenship and spelling; B’s in arithmetic, art, penmanship, reading, and geography; and a C in history. He was only tardy once, but had 18 half days absent.
Laban was active in 4-H in the mid 1940’s.. He raised New Zeeland White Rabbits in 1943, and a pig in 1945. He also played basketball with his school team in 1945, and earned a letter.
There was times when Allen and I would be up home at the folks at deer hunting and other times. Laban was glad to see us and I know he was lonely. Allen and I would stretch out on a couch and try to get a little nap and Laban would get a feather and tickle us awake (he didn’t want us to sleep). Finally after a bit Allen and I would take him and tie up his hands and legs and then he would beg mom or Charlotte to let him loose. It was all in fun. He didn’t weigh 200 at that time.
[After Alvin’s return from the war] Laban was still with the folks at home. I didn’t think he had shown much interest in moving to the city but he was only about 17 at this time.
Laban had come down to Muskegon some time in 1949 and got a job. He didn’t stay with us but he spent a lot of time with us. I think he went back up home almost every weekend to see the folks. He came over and helped me with the basement and that was a big help. He ate a lot of meals at our place and he liked Charlotte’s cooking. I don’t think he thought too much of the food where he boarded. We had good times together.
I had bought an aluminum car top boat . . . Laban and I carried the boat and gear into the back way of Pearl Lake one day after we had drove as far as possible with the car. It got very heavy before we got there but we did get one nice pike and it made a meal for all of us.Alvin E. Arnold Memoirs
Going back a bit, I was sad when I heard that Allen had dropped out of school and further saddened [later] when Laban dropped out. I don’t think my parents knew the value of education so they were not encouraged to continue.
I felt bad because I had a hard time having to milk cows, etc., and walk to the bus and all they had to do was get up and meet the bus at the door. I probably wouldn’t have been able to change their minds even if I had been there.Alvin E. Arnold Memoirs
Laban completed 9th grade in 1947 and then dropped out of school, according to G.E.D documents.
[DEA: Laban later finished his G.E.D., and encouraged all his children to stay in school.]
In September of 1950, Laban registered for the draft and was found “not acceptable for induction at the present time”. [DEA: I remember being told the issue was flat feet.] The Certificate of [non]Acceptability was mailed to Route #1, Honor, Michigan [Fowler Road].
According to their marriage license, Laban lived at 1691 Division Street in Muskegon and was employed as a “Core Maker” (at Lakey Foundry). Doris was a waitress and lived at 402 Houston Avenue. Parents were listed as “Danield” Arnold and “Trecie” Balitz, and as Roy E. Moore and Laura Kahley.
Laban D. Arnold, 1691 Division street, and Miss Doris Jane Moore, 402 Houston avenue.Marriage License Applications: Local newspaper
The house Laban lived at, on Division, is still standing as of 2021. The house Doris lived in at the time, 402 Houston, is a vacant lot in 2021.
Laban married Doris Jane Moore at Pilgrim Parsonage in Muskegon, Muskegon, Michigan, USA on Saturday, October 18, 1952. The marriage was officiated by Reverend Don F. Price (1st Pilgrim Church, 228 Washington Avenue in Muskegon) and witnessed by Allen F. Arnold and Dorothy A. Arnold. Wedding gifts included: $60, a blanket from Lakey’s, a pressure cooker from Alvin and Charlotte, a waffle iron from mom and Dad Moore, and a cake plate.
Laban had married soon after we had moved away. Would like to have been at the wedding but it was impossible to get away. Laban married Doris Moore.Alvin E. Arnold Memoirs
The newspaper clipping announcing their marriage listed their future residence as 1589 Park Street in Muskegon. That address is a vacant lot in 2021.
Children of Laban and Doris include:
Outside of family, Laban went by “Slim” most of his adult life.
Laban and Doris welcomed their first child in 1953 while living at 620 Marquette Avenue in Muskegon:
Laban, “L. Arnold Esq”, received mail at 620 Marquette, Muskegon, in September of 1954.
In 1956, their second child arrived while Laban was a mechanic at Pine Street Gulf, and lived at 620 Marquette Avenue in Muskegon:
In April of 1956, Laban and his brother Allen helped a woman from a burning building in Muskegon. From a local newspaper:
Fire, believed caused by defective wiring, did $3,500 damage last night to the building and contents of an apartment dwelling at 1092-94 First street. Muskegon Fire Department extinguished the blaze.
It is reported Mrs. Carpenter returned to the blazing dwelling to attempt to save some of her belongings and was brought to safety again before arrival of the firemen by Laban Arnold, 620 Marquette avenue, and Allen Arnold, 3287 Henry street, passing motorists.
…Wiring Blamed For Home Fire; $3,500 Damage – Local Newspaper, April 1956
On Saturday evening, May 12th, into the early morning hours of Mother’s Day, May 13th, 1956, four tornados spawned a huge Muskegon area hail storm. Thankfully, none of the tornados touched down. However, with hail stones as large as baseballs, the storm caused more than $12 million in damage around Muskegon (equivalent to $190 million in 2020).
I still remember mom and dad talking about how noisy and scary that storm was; about how they took us kids into the bathtub and shielded us with their bodies. You decide, joking or not, but dad said after that night he stopped sleeping in the buff.Daniel E. Arnold Memoirs
The exact date is unclear, but pictures indicate that Laban had moved his family from 620 Marquette Avenue to 540 Leonard Avenue by Christmas of 1957.
Laban and Doris welcomed their third child in 1958 while living at 540 Leonard Avenue in Muskegon:
In September of 1958, according to a blood donor thank you note, we learn that Laban was blood type O Negative and confirm that he lived at 540 Leonard Avenue:
Dear Mr. Arnold, Your blood saved the life of baby Langler on Saturday , thank you so much for coming in to donate.Blood Donor Certificate, September 4, 1958.
Note: The blood donor card and other mail actually say Leonard Street, but Google Maps shows it as Avenue (in 2021) so I’ll refer to it as 540 Leonard Avenue. DEA
Laban and Doris welcomed their fourth child in 1959 while still living at 540 Leonard Avenue in Muskegon:
In May of 1960, Laban lived at 540 Leonard and drove a 1954 Oldsmobile 2-Door for which he had a lien with “Home Loan Co.” and carried comprehensive ($12/Yr), 10/20k bodily injury and 5k property damage insurance costing $31.50 per year, totaling $43.50 per year with Hartford through Campeau, Mullally & Meier, Inc.
Laban and Doris welcomed their fifth child in 1961 while still living at 540 Leonard Avenue in Muskegon:
Laban and family still lived at 540 Leonard Avenue on May 2, 1962, according to a letter addressed to Doris from Owosso College.
In May of 1963, Laban and his family moved into the house he and Doris built at 4086 Bexley Drive, between Muskegon and Fruitport.
I remember moving to Bexley in May of the year I was in fourth grade, and did not have to finish the school year. I don’t remember how they “evaluated” me, but they passed me through to fifth grade.Joyce Y. Arnold (aka Randles) Memoirs
The house was 30’x32′, including the 6’x13′ open wood porch notched into the northwest corner. The lot was 176′ deep with 100′ frontage on Bexley, and backed up to Shettler School property. They got the design/plans from the Small House Planning Bureau out of St. Cloud, MN. It was “Design C-54” and was listed as 1,056 square feet, not including garage. It looks like they stuck pretty close to the design, but omitted the entry closet, fireplace, and garage/breezeway.
An attached breezeway and garage give this house the wide appearance now so popular. The house itself is a compact three-bedroom plan with plenty of closet and storage space. A storage closet 4’x5′-6 is large enough for linen cabinet and storage of large equipment. There are coat closets in the living room and rear entry and wardrobe closets elsewhere.
A counter separates the kitchen and dinette, both of which have corner windows. A storage cabinet on the inside wall is in addition to the regular cabinets. Exterior finish is siding and asphalt shingles. The garage alcove is ideal for storage and work bench.Design C-54, Small House Planning Bureau
The exact details of construction financing are hazy — a $10,000, seven percent, one year contract with Bolema Lumber and Building Supplies on April 19, 1961 — a 30-year six percent mortgage for $9,000 was taken on June 19, 1963. A life insurance policy was offered as additional collateral to secure the loan. The value of the life insurance policy is unknown. Also, it looks like the property/land itself was financed from Bolema Lumber and Building Supplies, for $2,929 with a five year, seven percent loan.
Laban (aka “Slim”) enjoyed bowling and was a member of the championship team on the Northway National bowling league in 1962-1963.
I remember Mom would always kiss Dad goodbye in the back doorway and say get three 300’s.Joyce Y. Arnold (aka Randles) Memoirs
Laban worked for George Vincent Chevrolet in 1964, and attended a five day program covering “R & R Power Train: Engine Overhaul: Transmission: Differential: Tune-Up” at the General Motors Training Center in Detroit, Michigan in January of 1964.
Laban and Doris welcomed their sixth and final child in 1964 around a year after moving to 4086 Bexley in Muskegon:
On July 3, 1965, the day of his parent’s wedding anniversary, Laban was on a ladder trimming a tree using a chainsaw to improve reception of an antenna purchased as an anniversary gift for Dan and Tracie when a limb came at him and caused him to fall.
I remember (and can still picture in my mind) watching Dad fall from the tree. He was cutting a big branch that unfortunately came back toward him as it fell, knocking him off the ladder. He landed on his feet, then fell backwards just barely escaping his head hitting on the open tailgate of our station wagon.Joyce Y. Arnold (aka Randles) Memoirs
As a result he suffered a severely shattered ankle. Laban was taken to Traverse City Osteopathic Hospital where he was admitted at 8:30 in the evening. During his two week stay, they diagnosed a comminuted fracture (kah-muh-NOOT-ed: when the bone breaks into three or more pieces) of his distal left tibia and a fractured left fibula, and performed a closed reduction, pinning and casting of the left tibia and fibula. Laban was on crutches for two years, and his ankle never fully recovered.
For those who enjoy comparing prices over time: The surgeon charged $200 ($1,643 in 2020 dollars) for the procedure on Laban’s ankle, and his 14 days in the ward were billed at $23 per day. Six X-Ray’s over the next six months would be charged at $10 each.
Prior to breaking his left ankle, Laban was enrolled with Industrial Training Institute of Chicago (ITI). We know nothing of this program other than a letter from ITI to Doris about his status after the accident. One possibility is this was a technical program pertaining to radio and television repair, as this seems to be something ITI was doing, at least in the 1950’s.
Before the accident, Laban worked 40 hours/week at George Vincent Chevrolet for $1.00/hour ($8.22 in 2020 dollars; federal minimum wage was $1.15?). His withholdings every two weeks were $2.81 F.I.C.A. and $4.33 for insurance. Bet he was glad he had insurance! He had no Federal withholding.
In December of 1965 we have a letter from Laban’s doctor saying that he will be on crutches for at least six more months.
Times were tough during the couple years after the shattered ankle. Laban was mostly/totally unemployed, but made small payments to creditors to the extent possible. For example, we have a receipt from May of 1966 where he paid $3 on his account with “Free Installers”, bringing his balance down to $35.
Laban worked at Schamber Tractor Sales for 20 years, beginning probably in 1967 – the earliest related documents we have are W2 from 1978, and a pay stub from August of 1979.
We do not know the exact year, but it was likely the late 60’s when Laban again broke a leg. This happened after falling on the ice while ice fishing on Bear Lake. According to a news clipping, four unidentified “Good Samaritans” came to his rescue, pulling him to shore on a sled and transporting him to Hackley hospital in their station wagon. Unlike with his ankle in 1965, we have no invoices or doctors statements related to the incident.
I remember ice fishing with my Dad. We went as often as we could and even had a shanty we used at times – it ended up being a storage shed behind the house. Once, on Bear Lake, dad fell, broke his leg, and had to be transported to the hospital. I was there and remember walking off the ice with the rescuers as they pulled Dad. I should remember more, but it is all a blur. I was maybe 12 or 13 at the time.Daniel E. Arnold Memoirs
Laban self-identified as 6′ 4″ and 225 pounds on his 1969 Deer License.
Laban self-identified as 6′ 4″ and 250 pounds on his Deer Licenses for 1970 through 1972.
In 1971 Laban requested an earnings report from the Social Security Administration. The record shows he made $8,600 in 1969 – the equivalent of about $65,000 or $31.00 per hour in 2021 dollars. He had earned a total of $103,778 thus far.
Over the years, beginning in 1973, Laban shared in the joy of the marriage of each of his children:
On February 18, 1974, Laban’s father, Daniel Simon Arnold passed away.
During the mid 1970’s Laban sold Mason’s shoes from a catalog.
I’m not sure how well dad did in his shoe sales endeavor. I’m sure he would agree he took it all in stride? One step at a time? Anyway, I remember buying a pair or two from him — at his cost, of course.Daniel E. Arnold Memoirs
Laban self-identified as 6′ 4″ and 270 pounds on his 1974 Deer License.
In May of 1978, Laban completed “all the requirements prescribed by the [Michigan] State Board of Education under the General Education Development program” and was awarded a “High School Certificate”.
In June of 1975, Laban bought a used aluminum row boat from a neighbor (Henry “Pete” Wilder) for $50. He loved to fish with his family, and got a lot of joy out of that boat.
Laban self-identified as 6′ 4″ and 250 pounds on his 1975 Deer License (and 270 pounds again in 1977).
Laban absolutely loved his Detroit Tigers. On Saturday, July 9, 1977 he made one of his rare trips to Detroit to watch a game in person at Tiger Stadium. The “long drive” was rewarded with a 6-5 win over the White Sox. He and Doris and son Mike stopped in Toledo after the game to visit with Dan and Peggy before driving home.
In October of 1977, Laban and his bride celebrated their silver (25th) wedding anniversary with a dinner at “The Plaka” in Muskegon, where they enjoyed Filet Mignon and the Fisherman Platter.
After passing five required exams in February and March of 1978, Laban was awarded a “High School Certificate”, having successfully completed all the requirements prescribed by the Michigan State Board of Education under the General Education Development program, on May 3, 1978.
Laban’s 1978 W2 from Schamber Tractor Sales shows earnings of $16,460, equivalent to $65,400 ($31.44/hour) in 2020.
In May of 1979, Laban and Doris purchased a used 1975 eight-cylinder two-door Buick LeSabre with 46,000 miles, for $2,800 from Rick Spoelman of Spoelman Auto. (Spoelman’s were neighbors on Bexley.) They financed $2,600 at 12.91%, committing to 30 months of $103.73 payments. This may have been the newest/nicest car they ever owned.
On June 11, 1980, lost his brother Allen Fredrick Arnold. [DEA: I can only imagine what a tremendous loss this was, as these brothers were best friends and spent as much time together as their busy schedules would allow.]
In April of 1981, Laban completed a “Basic Life Support Course in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation” certified by the American Red Cross.
In March of 1982, Bolema Lumber executed a Quit Claim transferring their interest in Bexley to Laban and Doris, for the sum of $11,835; subject to Mortgage at Equitable Life in the amount of $5,271. This may mean that a second mortgage was paid off, and the $5,271 was the amount still owed on the first mortgage. this would help explain how the family got by during the time Laban was laid up. But that is just a guess at this time.
In 1983, Laban and Doris built a detached 20×24 garage on the Bexley Drive property.
In August of 1985, Laban spent 11 days in Ferguson Hospital in Grand Rapids. According to the billing statement, the diagnosis was malignant neoplasm of the rectum. According to Doris, he had 1.5 feet of colon and rectum removed and had a colostomy. He had radiation in November and December.
Laban underwent chemo as a result of his diagnosis. We have a statement from Muskegon Oncology showing he was given 1500mg Flourouracil on June 25, 1986 for a diagnosis of Colon cancer. He had lost over 50 pounds by August of 1986. “I’m kinda glad to lose the 50 pounds, it’s just the idea of the way it’s coming off that I don’t like.” According to Doris, he had Chemo in June, July, and August of 1986. After that his doctor said he could do nothing more. They switched to a new doctor who started chemo every 23 days, 24 hours/day for 5 days – this was from August through the end of October.
In October 1986, Doris read an “Are You Sure?” Bible pamphlet to Laban and he prayed with Doris on the 20th and accepted Jesus as his savior. Later he said, he wished he had done that a long time ago!
I remember working on a Bible pamphlet for our church when Peggy said I should send a copy to my Dad. I did as any good husband, and followed my lovely wife’s lead. Mom called a few days later to say she had read it to Dad, and he had prayed to accept Jesus as Lord.Daniel E. Arnold Memoirs
In October of 1986, with a preoperative diagnosis of “carcinoma of colon with bilateral hydronephrosis (urine not draining from kidney into the bladder)”, a surgical tissue report of a bladder tissue stated the cancer had spread to his bladder. Doris said that at this time the cancer had spread to his liver and lungs as well as what they found in the bladder.
Laban spent another day in Ferguson on November 4, 1986. From the statement, it seems this was for diagnostics: X-Ray, lab, EKG. Ambulance invoices show he was transported back and forth between Ferguson and “St Marys Hospital X-Ray” on November 28 and 30, 1986.
Another 22 days at Ferguson began for Laban on November 13, 1986 due to the bladder cancer, and chemo. Another 5 day stay began on December 12.
Laban’s 1986 W2 from Schamber Tractor Sales shows earnings of $15,379, equivalent to $36,300 in 2020. We’re uncertain how much he was actually able to work that year.
Early in 1986, on January 8th, Laban was back at Ferguson for another five days, for maintenance chemotherapy. On January 19th he was back at Ferguson for the duration of his life. Doris says she lived with him at the hospital the last three weeks of his life.
Laban “quietly quit breathing”, passing away at Ferguson Hospital in Grand Rapids, Kent, MI, USA, at 10:30 p.m. on Monday, February 16, 1987, of cardiopulmonary arrest after a two-year battle with colon cancer. He was 57.
Laban went to be with Jesus Monday evening at 10:20 PM, 2-16-87. He just quietly quit breathing. He was in Ferguson hospital in G.R. at the time and had been there since January 19th. He was in a coma the last four days.Letter from Doris, March 1987
From the local newspaper:
LABAN D. (SLIM) ARNOLD, 57, of Muskegon died Monday. He was the husband of Doris Arnold and had been employed at Schamber Tractor Sales for 20 years. Arrangements by Clock.Deaths, Local Newspaper
Also from the local newspaper:
ARNOLD, MR. LABAN D. “SLIM”, Muskegon
Mr. Laban “Slim” Arnold, age 57, formerly of Honor, MI, went to be with Jesus on Monday, Feb 16, 1987, after a long illness. He had been employed at Schamber Tractor Sales for 20 years.
Wife, Doris; 2 sons, Daniel (Peggy) of Jackson, Michael (Kim) of Nunica; 4 daughters, Joyce (Mike) Revell & Gloria (Greg) Kniat both of Muskegon, Valerie (Jeff) Palmer of Grand Haven & Teresa (Jay) Martin of Chula Vista, Ca; 13 grandchildren; his mother, Tracie Arnold of Muskegon; 1 brother, Alvin of Yucaipa, CA & sister-in-law, Mrs. Allen [Eleanor] Arnold of South Haven, MI.
Wednesday [February 18] 11 a.m. at the Clock Chapel.
No VisitationObituaries, Local Newspaper
Laban’s remains were cremated by Rosedale Memorial Park on February 17, 1987.
His six children gathered at the Platte Cemetery on September 1, 2002 for a graveside ceremony to honor him and Doris as they laid their cremains to rest.