Opal passed away peacefully early on January 6. Her daughter Judy and granddaughters, Danielle and Kara, were by her side.
Opal was born in East St. Louis, Illinois to David and May Park. She grew up in Marble Hill, Missouri and graduated from Lutesville High School in 1941. She became a registered nurse when she graduated from Missouri Baptist Hospital in 1944. Opal had a dream to go out west and help Indian people. She became a member of the Nurse Cadet Corp and traveled to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and began work at the public health hospital in Browning, Montana. There she met Henry Arnoux who was working at the hospital at the time, he actually picked her up from the train station! He journeyed to New York State shortly thereafter, to become an X-ray technician, and they both knew they couldn’t live apart from each other. When he returned they married on April 4, 1946 in Missouri but soon began traversing Montana in a mobile X-ray unit stopping at prisons, reservations, shopping centers to provide possible tuberculosis diagnoses. This odyssey stopped when she returned to Missouri to bear her first son, Jim, in 1947.
They moved to Elk City, Oklahoma and worked at a progressive community hospital. Two more children, John and Judy, followed in the next two years. Four years later they were in Rawlins, Wyoming working at Carbon County Memorial Hospital. By lucky happenstance two years later they visited Sheridan and Big Horn, Wyoming and fell in love with the countryside, the people, and the life this magical country afforded. She worked for a short while at Fort McKenzie VA hospital but soon became the head nurse in ER and Central Supply at Sheridan County Memorial Hospital. She loved her work where she excelled in all the tasks she took on. Singing and playing piano were passions. He spot on clear alto voice was a beautiful addition to any musical endeavor at church, school, community musicals and especially, in her family gathering where music was king.
Opal continued to work in nursing after retiring from the hospital after thirty years, being an office nurse to Dr. Hogarty. She was one of the founders of the Sheridan Senior Center. She and Henry delivered Meals on Wheels, drove shut-ins to church services, and was active in the Big Horn Women’s Club. She was no stranger to cooking, canning, gardening, animal husbandry. She had the knack for making sure 4H projects, school work, and the lives of those around her were successful.
Opal was devoted to her family and especially to the love of her life, Henry. Theirs was the sweet love the poets praise. When Henry died two years ago, a light in her dimmed and though she tried to make sense of his departure, she missed him and her parents who preceded her in death. Opal is survived by her children, Jim (Gwen), Portland, OR; John (Colleen), Owasso, OK; and Judy, Sheridan; 6 grandchildren- Kara (Julio), Michelle, Danielle, Ashley (Ryan), Davin and Christopher and 5 great grandchildren-Carson, Caroline, Mia, Sophia and Riley. Her grace, steadfastness, generosity, love and devotion will be missed.
A memorial service will be at Champion Ferries Funeral Home at 2:00 P. M. Tuesday, January 11, 2011 with the Rev. Charles Gifford officiating with interment to follow in Big Horn at Mount Hope Cemetery. A reception will follow interment at the Big Horn Women’s Club.