What you give comes back, Florence woman says

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ALEEN RATZLAFF
After living more than 50 years in Florence, Lois Huntley readily admits that around town, she’s known by many as the “bureau of information.”


“Everyone calls here to find out things,” she said. “We know everybody.”


Lois Huntley, 76, and her husband, Harold, 78, live on Fourth Street in Florence. In August, the couple will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary.


“We just like to enjoy living and doing things for others,” she said.


Through their business, church and civic activities, the Lois and her husband have developed strong relationships among the town’s residents.


Lois’s resume of community work over the years includes organizing door-to-door campaigns and bloodmobile drives for the Red Cross, leading packs of Cub Scouts and going on runs with the town’s volunteer ambulance team. Harold served on the city council, the school board and the volunteer fire department.


“We were real active in the Chamber of Commerce for awhile,” she said.


In that role, Lois was able to initiative a couple of her “pet projects.”


“I started the annual Easter egg hunt years ago,” she said. Although she doesn’t organize it now, the event is still held, usually the Saturday before Easter.


She also can take credit for the snowflake Christmas decorations that hang on Main Street lamp posts each year.


“We happened to see them one time when we were in Missouri, so we came home and started that project.”


Lois also keeps active in the Florence Christian Church.


“That’s my main love, the church,” said Lois, who works with the women’s organization and chairs the Memorial Fund, a project she initiated years ago.


The youngest child of seven, Lois was born in Bozeman, Mont., north of Yellowstone Park. Her parents had grown up in the Lehigh-Durham area, and her father worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad. After her father died, her mother remarried a man from the Florence area when Lois was an eighth grader.


“I moved here in 1938, and I’ve been here ever since,” she said.


In 1943, Lois graduated from Florence High School and several months later was married to Harold Huntley from Wonsevu, south of Cedar Point. “After the war, we moved to town and he worked for Rice Motor Co., a Chevrolet garage,” she said.


That was in 1946. After 11 years at Rice, Harold started his own auto repair business, Huntley Repair. “I was his bookkeeper and gopher,” Lois said.


Later, after the Huntleys experienced a fire in their shop, they rebuilt the auto garage across from their house, adapted over the years to suit their growing family of three sons and a daughter.


“We’ve worked on the house ever since we bought it,” she said.


Last May, Harold retired and the Huntleys decided to sell the auto mechanics shop.”It’s just setting there waiting for someone to buy it,” she said. “It could make a good business for someone.”


During their marriage, the Huntleys have traveled a lot.


“We were very fortunate to be able to do that,” she said. “We saved and we took a nice trip every year.”


While still at home, the children accompanied their parents on the yearly vacations.


“We made a goal that we would see all 50 states, which we did. We drove to all of them, except Hawaii.”


Asked about their adjust to retirment, Lois was quick to respond.


“Not being able to do what you normally did and giving in to that-that’s one of the hardest things,” she said. “We all want to do what we’ve done in the past. It’s kind of frustrating.”


Her husband added, “But it’s getting better.”


One of his projects is collecting and selling aluminum cans for the church.”That’s his big project,” Lois said. “We sell ’em and put the money in the building fund because we’d like to get a bigger kitchen and dining room.”


The Huntleys are active at the Florentine Center, the town’s center for senior citizens, next door to the Florence Market on Main Street.       


Lois has served as organization’s president and “about every other office I think you can have,” she said.


Part of their work at the senior center involves providing transportation twice a week for Meals on Wheels. “We just check on people and see if anyone needs anything,” she said.


This past year has brought some particular challeges. Last August, Lois was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.


“I’ve always been exceptionally healthy,” she said. “I couldn’t believe when I was diagnosed with cancer. But I wasn’t going to give up. You’ve got to have a lot of faith.”


Following surgery and chemo-therapy treatments, “the prognosis looks good,” she said. “I’ve done much better than what they thought-it just takes time.”


Nearly a year has passed and her strength is returning.


“Trusting in the Lord is what keeps us going,” Lois said.”We used to be the town taxi-it always comes back what you put in. The Lord said, ‘You give and you will receive.'”


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