Eleanor Jean Daniels had empathy for others to the point where she would take struggling people into her home until they could get back on their feet.
The 69-year-old, who died in a fire that partially destroyed her end-unit townhome in Lansdowne late last week, “had a huge heart for people,” said her daughter, Toni Kershaw.
“There were some difficult children growing up in that neighborhood, including myself,” Kershaw, 47, said. “My mom never gave up on us.”
The cause of the fire, which was called in at 10:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, is still under investigation, fire officials said. But, officials said last week that a small explosion, which they believe resulted from an oxygen tank, occurred during the fire. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene.
The fire was under control at 11:15 p.m. About 40 fire personnel from Lansdowne, English Consul and Arbutus responded to the blaze, officials said. No damage to other structures was reported.
Kershaw said one of her fondest memories of her mother was when she helped organize a trip to Florida when Toni’s daughter, Lisa, was 8 years old and required brain surgery.
“That’s a memory for my kids [that] our family will never forget,” Kershaw said. “That was a huge trip for all of us. My mom always said that if she had the money, she’d buy another house and help even more kids out. She had just a kind, loving heart.”
The Monday after the fire, the ground was still muddy from fire hoses, and the air smelled of smoke. A bouquet of red and yellow flowers sat outside the front door.
Daniels’ son, John Barkley, 38, said the home was uninsured and the family was struggling to find money to cover funeral expenses and the cost of rebuilding the home. The family wants to rebuild in the home in Daniels’ honor, he said, because of all the work she did to help others from that residence.
“It’s just a nightmare,” Barkley said.
Daniels, who was divorced, worked as a nurse and then as an EMT with the English Consul Volunteer Fire Department until she retired in 1999. In addition to Barkley and Krenshaw, she is survived by a third child, David Barkley.
Barkley set up a GoFundMeCampaign to help cover funeral expenses. As of the middle of last week, the campaign had raised $410 out of a $10,000 goal.
Joseph Daniels, 64, said on Facebook that his sister was his best friend.
“Whenever I needed someone to talk to I could always talk to my sister and things would always get better,” he wrote.
He also said his sister would give family members and others a place to stay if they needed it, including “strangers she just met.”
“She just had a heart of gold,” he said. “She worried about other people more than herself.”