Dr. Donald Frederick Darling passed away peacefully on March 2, 2023, at Barrett Hospital
in Dillon. Don was born on October 27, 1936, in Winona, Minnesota, to Frank Frederick and
Laura Alice (Thompson) Darling.
Don was born during the end of the depression and his early life was very happy. His father
was a fireman and was injured on the job, which eventually led to his death in 1945. His
family life then changed dramatically with his mother working full time as a nurse and his
only sister starting college. Don had to become a contributing member of the household,
tending the coal-burning furnace, mowing the lawn, and sanding and painting the house.
The result was a very independent child. He began delivering newspapers at age 10, later
worked at Schuler Chocolate Factory, and eventually became a truck driver and delivery
person. He played football beginning in 8 th grade and continued through his senior year.
Don was a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves for eight years beginning in 1955. He began
attending Winona State Teacher’s College where the tuition and fees for 1954-55 were
$90.00, and graduated in 1958 with a major in science and a minor in history. He taught
physics, chemistry, biology and general science in Winona and Houston, Minnesota. He
returned to school for his M.A. in biology, and then taught general science and biology at
Wilson Campus School in Mankato, Minnesota. He received his doctorate from the
University of North Dakota in 1970 and continued teaching at Wilson until its closure in
Don then accepted a position at the University of Montana in Missoula working with
schools on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning. He next became Curriculum Director for
Helena Public Schools, then Superintendent of Schools at Nezperce, Idaho, and then Nome,
Alaska. He completed his career by serving as principal at Akutan, Alaska, and finally
Mountain Village, Alaska. He also taught for a while at the University of Montana Western.
Don met his future wife Pat Brown, from Park Ridge, Illinois, during his college years when
she was in Nurse’s Training at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. They were
married in July 1958 in Park Ridge. Don and Pat retired to Dillon in 1998.
Don was a Hunter Education instructor for 50 years and was an avid hunter, including an
African Safari. He was a dedicated World War II history buff.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Laura Darling, his sister Jean Darling
Masyga, and his son Don Darling Jr. He is survived by his wife Pat, of Dillon, children Ginny
Darling of Rochester, Minnesota, Cindy Bauer of Moscow, Idaho, and Ben Darling of
Missoula, and daughter-in-law Eileen Darling of Nicollet, Minnesota. He is also survived by
grandchildren Don III, Brad, Jemima, Kezia, Tabitha, and Linus, and great grandchildren
Cara, Thomas, Ashlynn, Madison, Jackson, August, Jane, and Seth.
Don has been cremated. A Celebration of Life will take place Thursday, March 16, at 10:00
am at Brundage Funeral Home in Dillon. His ashes will be spread at a favorite hunting spot