On November 28,1927, Darline Alma was born in Laurens, IA, the only child of Oscar and Alma (Wenell) Johnson. She grew up in the Albert City area surrounded by many cousins as both of her parents came from families of 10 and 11 children. Family ties and reunions were always very important to her, and she was very proud of her Swedish heritage. She was baptized and confirmed in the local Evangelical Covenant Church, and she graduated from Albert City High School in 1945.
Darline met Russell Hughes at her 17th birthday party, and they were married on April 19, 1948, after he served in Nome, Alaska, and his honorable discharge from the US Army. They lived on her parents’ 80 acres near Albert City where their daughters, Cynthia Dianne and Patricia Marie, were born. In 1959 the family moved to Everly, IA. It was there Darline began working in the school lunchroom and then went back to college so she could be a teacher’s aide. But her favorite occupation was starting the Jack and Jill Preschool with two other women held at the Everly UMC until the school took over this program. Darline then became a nurse’s aide at the Spencer Hospital; she said this was hard work but equipped her for her last avocation as a Hospice volunteer for which she was named Iowa Volunteer of the Year in 2003. She continued to visit care centers and shut-ins until she was one herself.
Darline was also a dedicated member of the Everly UMC, volunteering as if it was her mission, teaching Sunday School, and going with Russ on mission trips. She was awed by astronomy and nature and always had large gardens. Her and Russ were also foster parents, and Tim Mittlestadt lived with them for seven years. She strived to live like a child of God and taught her family and others the meaning of true faith. She loved the outdoors, enjoying swimming, biking and gardening but also reading, sewing, and quilting. She sewed most of our dresses as we were growing up and taught others through 4-H leadership. She was also known for her cinnamon rolls and rye bread.
Both Russ and Darline loved traveling, visiting all 50 states and Europe twice on a dime and connecting with relatives in Sweden and Germany. Many of their trips included camping, from tents to trailers, and the family enjoyed summers and Christmas holidays at Cutty’s. We even took them on traveling adventures to visit family in their mid-80’s.
Darline was an independent woman who taught her daughters how to take care of themselves and the virtue of hard work. She took good care of herself and Russ and was proud to say she was never on any medication. She resided at St. Luke’s Lutheran Home after a fall when she was 93, and we would like to thank their staff and Hospice for their care and friendship. Darline’s favorite saying over the last six years was “Russ is in heaven. He was a good man!” Now she has gone to join him.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Russell, in 2018, and his parents and siblings. Left to share her memory are Cyndi O’Hara of Spencer and Pat Campbell of Arnolds Park; 5 grandchildren, Michelle O’Hara, Brent (Renee) O’Hara, Cory (Nichole) Campbell, Travis (Stacy) Campbell, and Ashley (Andrew) Torchio; 7 great-grandchildren (with one on the way); and many relatives and friends.