Darlene Lorraine Davis was born Sept. 21, 1933 in Black River Falls, WI. She was the second daughter born to Ruth and Harley Davis. Her early childhood years were spent in Wisconsin going to school and helping out on the family farm. And although Norma always jokingly claimed that Darlene played and dawdled more than she helped, they picked strawberries, green beans and other vegetables in the fields where their parents made a living growing food during the Great Depression. No one was able to prove or disprove Norma’s theory of Darlene’s childhood work ethic but we know that she was a little girl who loved the outdoors, adored her dog and excelled at making snow angels.
When Darlene was 13 years old the family moved back to ND and lived in the Amor Township. It was shortly after their arrival here that she met a young man and neighbor named Vernon Hansen. Their friendship blossomed as they talked over the fence and rode bicycles together but they each had an education and a life’s work to consider. She graduated from high school at Sheyenne River Academy in Harvey, ND, and while there she enjoyed singing soprano in the choir, contributing to the school newspaper and taking part in other school activities.
After attending Union College in Lincoln, NE, Darlene continued her education at Dickinson State University earning her teaching certificate. She began her teaching career at the Haley school in 1952 and was, by this time, engaged to marry Vernon. It was during this first year of teaching, while she and her students were presenting their Christmas program, that Darlene became ill. As she was playing the piano for her pupils, her hands began to shake so badly that she was unable to continue. Her condition deteriorated rapidly and she was ultimately diagnosed with polio at the age of 18. After weeks of being critically ill and narrowly missing being placed in the iron lung, she was told that she would never walk again. But, she was determined to walk down the aisle to marry Vernon and she did just that, a few months later, on June 2, 1953.
Darlene and Vernon started their married life on a farm north of Rhame, ND. While they lived there they welcomed their first son, Rocky, but tragically lost him to leukemia at the age of two. The family then moved south of Bowman and farmed in the Minnehaha Township and Harding County, SD. Some years later, they purchased the Brian Fiest place and built the home where they have lived to present day. They raised three children there, Pam, Scott and Brad.
Darlene loved being a farm wife and mom. She enjoyed cooking, baking bread and believe it or not.... doing laundry! She drove combines and grain trucks, put up vegetables from the garden and had a special knack for hospitality. She enjoyed having guests whether for supper or for the summer. High school students were often summer boarders while they learned about farm life and enjoyed Darlene’s delicious meals.
She was an active member of the Bowman SDA church. For many years she taught children’s classes, played the piano, planned special programs and arranged flowers for the church service.
In later years when she was unable to be more mobile she loved to spend time on her iPad, shopping online, keeping up on Facebook and playing games. Wordscapes was her recent personal favorite and anyone who came into her hospital room would be invited to play with her. She would often enlist the assistance of the hospital staff at WRRMC when she was playing, sometimes turning on her call light when she couldn’t figure out a word and the staff kindly obliged.
Darlene was known for her smile. She always had one! Even as she became more and more disabled with post polio syndrome she continued to fight and refused to give up, meeting each obstacle with determination, grit and her characteristic smile.
Family who will miss her include Vernon, her husband of 67 years, Bowman, ND; her children: Pamela (Timothy) Taylor, Brighton, CO; Scott (Becky) Hansen, Bowman, ND; and Brad Hansen, Harwood, ND; grandchildren: Brock (Ashley) Hansen, Wyatt Hansen, and Truxton Hansen; one great-grandchild: Elsie Ruth Hansen.
She was preceded in death by her son, Rocky, her parents and her sister, Norma, who passed away just 3 1/2 days before Darlene.
Her family believes that she is resting now, waiting for Jesus’ return. When that day comes she will run and sing - celebrating in a perfect body and enjoying a new life with Him.... forever!
Due to COVID-19 our family is planning a private graveside service to lay Darlene to rest. Later this spring/summer we would like to invite you to a celebration of her life at a memorial service. Details will follow when we are able to make the arrangements and comfortably assure that our guests will remain healthy and safe.