Longtime Sitka Resident Dayna Houp Dies at 88

Dayna Lou (Hess, Myron) Houp

Longtime Sitkan and recent Sitka Pioneers Home resident Dayna Lou (Hess, Myron) Houp, 88, passed away on Nov. 16, 2023.
In June 2023, she and her husband Randy took a trip to visit his family in Pennsylvania and, following a number of medical incidents, she was admitted to a nursing home near Harrisburg. Dayna’s daughter, Rachel, and husband Steve visited her in August. In November, Rachel was able to join Randy bedside for Dayna’s final two days.
Throughout much of her life, Dayna was an Episcopalian and Presbyterian. In the late 1980s she became an evangelical Christian.
Dayna was a cherished daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. She was known as Willa, Dayna Lou, Lou Lou Bird, Little Sister, and Nina. She loved children, and was a second mother to many. In Sitka she especially adored the children in her church.
Dayna was born Sept. 29, 1935, in Ballard, Washington, and was raised in the Seattle area along with siblings Richard, Phyllis and Wynn. Dayna adored her siblings and, early on, caught a thirst for adventure and independence from Phyllis.
In 1946, her parents established a home in Renton. Dayna graduated from Renton High in 1953, and married Hugh Myron on August 12, 1955. In the early years, they nurtured foster children and relished opportunities to care for Dayna’s eldest nieces and nephews: Melanie, Rick, Dee, and Billy. When they learned they were unable to have children, Dayna and Hugh reached out to the Children’s Home Society in Seattle. In less than five years during the late 1950s and early ’60s they adopted four children.
Dayna and Hugh developed deep friendships with neighbors and, while raising their own, took joy in folding neighborhood children into the family mix as often as possible. Hugh, a gear-design engineer, worked at Boeing until 1970 when he, like many others, was laid off. After the layoff, they moved to Littleton, Colorado.
In Colorado, Dayna again had close friendships with neighbors. The couple continued to guide their adopted children and provided a short-term home for countless others in the foster care system. In the early 1980s, they welcomed an adult student from Japan, Yumiko, who became another daughter.
Dayna worked part-time jobs while orchestrating a household full of children. For six years she ran a lawn care service, with her children as laborers. She loved reading and amassed a library of children’s books. She was a seamstress, gardener and artist, and loved wild places and mining ruins.
Most of the children left home by age 16. Rachel, the last to leave, attained a high school diploma, then earned a college degree and moved to Sitka.
Dayna and Hugh relocated to Dodge City, Kansas, and divorced in 1989.
Dayna joined daughter Rachel for a trip on the Alaska Marine Highway. She went to the Pioneer Bar in Sitka and bathed in hot springs. She accompanied her sister Phyllis, and husband Stan, both pilots, on a trip to Fairbanks in their Cessna 172. She took up hiking and rock climbing. She journeyed on the Sheldon Jackson boat from Sitka to Seattle as a deckhand.
Dayna attended massage school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, earning her license in 1986. She practiced in Vale and Gypsum, Colorado, where she met the man of her dreams - Randy Houp. He adored her immediately. She cherished his attention and followed his lead into deep evangelical Christianity. They married in April 1991, and two years later came to Sitka. Dayna quickly engaged with the Sitka community of therapists. She practiced cranial-sacral massage, and is remembered for the comfort she brought to many.
Randy and Dayna built a successful life in Sitka. He worked in construction and at Spenard Builders Supply. As doing massage became more difficult for Dayna, he supported her. One of the things they both most enjoyed was visiting Rachel and her husband Steve in Tenakee – a tradition at Christmas. Another was visiting Randy’s family in Pennsylvania. In 2006, the Houps purchased a townhouse on Monastery Street and spent happy years there relishing life and their neighbors. In October 2021, due to a degenerative neurological condition, Dayna moved to the Sitka Pioneers Home. Randy spent daytime hours with her and often took her out for drives and home on weekends. She continued to be the joy of his life, he became the entire focus of hers.
Dayna touched the hearts of many with her generosity and friendship.
Dayna is survived by her husband of 32 years Randy Houp, of Marysville, Pennsylvania; daughters, Rachel (Steve Lewis) of Alaska, and Rebecca, of Colorado; sons Joseph, Loma Mar, California, and Elias, Statesboro, Georgia; cherished niece Melanie and her son Jake, and dear nephew Rick (Kathleen). Dayna was an enduring second mother to Yumiko Asano (Sam) and to many others throughout her life. She is remembered with love by sisters-in-law Ramona and Susan Hess, and many nieces and nephews. Members of the New Testament Lighthouse Church, formerly of Sitka, remember her with fondness as their church mother and grandmother.
Family who have gone before her include her parents Dorothy and William Hess, Grandmother Mamie, former husband Hugh Myron, brothers Wynn and Richard Hess, along with Richard’s daughter Dee and son William.
Dayna’s treasured sister/mentor/friend Phyllis LaRue passed away one year earlier.
Dayna’s family plans a remembrance 1:30 p.m. April 26, in the Sitka Pioneers Home Chapel.
“We hope you are able to join us,” her family said.

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July 2004
Photo caption: Junior League All Stars will compete in a tournament in Wrangell. From left are Bryn Calhoun, Chris Scott, Sean O’Neill, Ross Venneberg, Caleb McGraw, Richard Carlos, Jacob Houston, Coby McCarty, Bryan Lovett and Daniel Erickson.


July 1974

Photo caption: Volunteers leave the Yaw Building Library with loads of books being transferred to the new Orin and Betty Stratton Library on the Sheldon Jackson campus. SJC librarian Evelyn Bonner expressed appreciation to the community for the help.


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