Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. An outdoorsman’s dream. The tales of a lush green mountain paradise with bountiful fishing in a land brimming with fresh water lakes, and plentiful game hunting were what first lured the Murrell family to the this area in 1948 for a family vacation. And it was here they left their hearts.
And so it was the urge to return to this beautiful country that caused this family of six to squeeze their possessions and themselves into one truck and the family car to come back and claim their little piece of paradise, a home off Government Way near downtown. The year was 1951. Their youngest child, Donnie, now known as Don Sr., was one year old and the rest of the children were stair stepped in age with Vida, the only daughter, being the eldest at eleven, followed by Charles, Floyd, Larry and Tony. But the sun-loving Californians were no match for the harsh winter of 1951-52, one of the top ten snowiest on record. So back to the sun they went
Compared to working in the hot desert oil fields of California, this mountain heaven was difficult to erase from Web Murrell’s mind. The prodding by his older brother Bud, who also came on vacation and did not waste time moving here, helped to make his decision. The two brothers were close, and Bud needed a camping partner. Besides, Bud told him, “It
only snows like that every so often.” There is an Oklahoma accent there, the birth place of the Murrells including mother Aline. Anyone who was acquainted with Web, Aline and Bud may remember that Southern drawl that never quite went away.
They returned again in 1958, but this time it was an economic decision for a family of eight that turned them back once again to the lucrative oil business in southern California, but not for long. This time Web had a plan. During the family’s short stays here, Web had become familiar with the cattle business and saw the potential and knew what he wanted to do. This time he was prepared. They sold out in California for good and headed back to Coeur d’Alene for the last time in 1961, but the load was a little lighter, and the trip a little sadder. The three oldest siblings did not make the trip in order to finish high school. After graduation, Vida married into the Everett family and the two oldest sons, Charles and Floyd joined the US Air Force. Vida and husband James, their children James, Jeffrey, and Renee moved here in 1967. Charles, after twenty years in the Air Force, chose CDA to retire with his four children, Mike, Sue, Erin, and Sarah. Floyd and wife, Wanda, lived here for a short while, but did not stay.
On their arrival, Web and Aline purchased ten acres and a ranch house at Ross Point in Post Falls that fronted what was then Highway 10 and is now Seltice Way. Shortly, thereafter they acquired another twenty acres to extend their property to what is now the Potlatch Mill. Web and his boys built an enormous red barn for the cows and horses that were bought and sold in the family business, and built a fence around the entire thirty acres. The popular Breezy Point Supper Club was across the highway right about where the I-90 and Highway 41 interchange exists today. A Richfield gas station and what was maybe an early strip mall consisting of a grocery store and small businesses were located there as well. The family property was used as a horse racing track previously, so that little commercial area sprung up out of need. When the family first lived here, there was no development from their back door to the Spokane River. It was a horse rider’s mecca, but you had to watch out for the bears that regularly raided the trash cans. Now you will find subdivisions all the way to the river, and to the front, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Capone’s, River City Animal Hospital, and new condominiums. The old house and barn no longer exist. They were raised a few years ago to make way for a retirement community.
All the while, the three youngest boys attended school and all graduated from Post Falls High. Larry went on to the University of Idaho with the intent to be a coach and teacher but was tragically killed in a car train accident just before he was due to graduate. Tony joined the Navy and Donnie who was good at sports, especially baseball, went on to play college baseball for Coach Jackie Bloxum, graduated from North Idaho College and later was a member of the first class to receive Bachelor’s degrees from the satellite campus of Lewis and Clark College in Coeur d’Alene.
He met his wife, Kathy, when their fathers did business together. They were both in the 7th grade at that time, and continued their friendship throughout the years of junior and senior high school. Her parents arrived in Coeur d’Alene in 1949 from the Harvard/Potlatch areas in the pursuit of employment with their first home being on 6th Street. They later moved to their home on 3rd Street where houses lined both sides of the street. Runge furniture was in the building next to Sterling Bank on Sherman & 11th, not across third street. It was from here the Nichols children walked to Bryant Elementary.
Kathy, a true native, was born at Lake City General Hospital on Lakeside Avenue in 1950, joining a sister, Linda and later a brother Norman. Her paternal grandparents, James and Madeline Nichols, came from the Palouse area in1948, but were no strangers to Coeur d’Alene, since Madeline’s parents, the Hibbard’s had lived on 6th Ave for many years. Jim and Madeline first lived on Emma Avenue and later bought a house on Davidson.
Grandpa Jim worked and retired from Kaiser Aluminum. Kathy’s father Dave worked for Potlatch Forest located on what is now the CDA Resort Golf Course. Later he would be known for being meat cutter extraordinaire at Y.J. Foods and Stock Yards on Seltice Way, then Highway 10.
Don Senior and Kathy went together in high school and after graduating from Post Falls High, were married. They have three children all living in Coeur d’Alene. They have lived in this area since, except for a period of time when Don Sr. was working for a large corporation. They lived in several states from New Hampshire to Washington, but like his father Web, Don was never able to shake the pull to bring his family back home. The urge to go home directed his employment decisions.
Their oldest daughter, Cori after returning to this area from Seattle where she attended the University of Washington, married Brian Donaldson. Brian’s Dad, Dave and Mother, Janet came here after Dave’s retirement from the Navy. Cori has a son, Parker Gabrielson, who attends Sorenson Elementary, the only Magnet school in this area. He loves baseball, basketball, football and is a talented piano player and juggler. All children juggle at Sorenson.
Second daughter, Mundee found her way back here too after living in Seattle and California. Son, Donnie Jr. married his college sweetheart, April, from Lake Oswego, Oregon. They both graduated from Gonzaga University. Donnie played baseball for the Zags while earning a Master’s Degree in Business. April was an elementary school teacher before the arrival of baby Jack. After experiencing life in other cities, like his grandfather and his father before him, he too followed his heart and made the journey home. All five Murrell family members currently live in the town of Coeur d’Alene.