Darlene was born in Ft. Morgan, Colorado, on August 12, 1939, to Herman and Henrietta (Hattie) Stumpf. Arriving just minutes after her twin sister Arlene, Darlene was the fourth of seven children. The family resided in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Darlene was a quiet, artistic girl whose wild imagination made her quite creative.
It was Darlene’s big blue eyes that attracted Dick Claycomb to her the day after both graduated from Cheyenne High School in the spring of 1957. In February 1958, Darlene and Dick became lifelong partners, spending their first seven years together working and traveling the rodeo circuit. In 1964, their daughter Tracy was born followed two years later by son Troy. The family resided in Ten Sleep, Greybull, and Laramie before moving to Hulett in1973 where they fell in love with the area. In 1982, they moved to Upton and later to Lusk before returning to Upton in 1996 to celebrate retirement.
Darlene worked in banking and insurance across the state. She was in bookkeeping at American National Bank in Cheyenne, was a teller at Wyoming National Bank in Casper, and was head of the proof department at Laramie’s First National Bank. Darlene also worked at AGI Insurance in Upton and at Farm Bureau Insurance in Lusk. In her spare time, she served as Adult Education Coordinator in Upton.
For the past 20 years, Darlene’s second home was a remote and rustic northern Saskatchewan cabin. She spent every spring packing and preparing so as soon as the ice melted from the lake, she and Dick could head north with their boat and several months’ worth of supplies. There, Darlene spent her summers at water’s edge watching loons, writing, reading, painting, fishing, boating, and enjoying God’s creation. Her time there only got better when her family – particularly her grandchildren – came to visit.
Darlene’s signature gifts to others were her contagious smile and sparkling eyes, followed closely by her quick wit and keen – and often edgy – sense of humor. She was fun and she was funny. Her kind heart and creative mind made everything she touched beautiful – from the warmth of her home, to the tranquility of her yard and gardens, to her oil paintings and photography, to the clever ways she connected with her grandchildren. She taught us all what it means to have a true servant’s heart in the quiet ways she put the needs of others ahead of her own. She never spared her time, compassion, or generosity.
More than anything, Darlene loved spending time with her family. From large family gatherings at her parents’ house where there was always a raucous card game, to family camping and fishing trips with her parents and in-laws, to hunting trips and Thanksgiving feasts at our home in Hulett, Darlene thrived on family time. She particularly enjoyed what became an annual gathering of her children and grandchildren at some remote location across the West.
In later years, Darlene’s grandchildren were her greatest joy, and their relationship with her was particularly special. She was their most faithful fan, attending innumerable sporting events, school performances, and piano recitals, even when her health was failing. Whatever their activity, Darlene genuinely believed her grandkids performed best, and she was proud to brag about them. Some of the grandkids’ favorite memories with “Gram Cracker,” as she was affectionately known, include “mail call,” midnight trips to the kitchen for cake, Grandma’s craft time, her ability to get close enough to catch a bunny and pet a deer, the pure joy she got from pranking the kids into believing concrete yard ornament deer in her garden were real, and Grandma faithfully reading to them.
To her husband, she was the best of the best – a beautiful, creative, loyal, hard-working wife. She was honest, fun-loving, and positive; she was the glue that held everything together, and she will be missed every day. To her children, Darlene was a devoted and loving mother who shaped and taught them strong morals, a solid work ethic, respect, responsibility, and kindness. Darlene empowered her children through her high expectations, and by dreaming with them, supporting them, and having every confidence in them. Above all, Darlene’s greatest legacy is her family. She loved two children, five grandchildren, and just one man, and she gave them love without limit.
Darlene is survived by her husband of 55 years, Dick; their two children, Tracy Oneale (Evin) and Troy Claycomb (Cheri); and five grandchildren, Sophie, Lainee and Jess Claycomb, and Maureen and Emery Oneale. She is also survived by her mother Hattie Stumpf; her siblings Norma Brown, Herman Stumpf, Arlene Keuck (Rich), Joyce White, and Tom Stumpf; sister-in-law Peggy Gibb (Dugan) and brother-in-law Don Claycomb; and many nieces and nephews. Her father Herman Stumpf and brother Ed Stumpf passed earlier.
Darlene’s brave and cheerful outlook carried her through life, and that was most evident the past three years. As she reminded us often, “Everything is going to be just fine.”
Darlene’s faith was strong, and she knew that peace at water’s edge in God’s kingdom awaited her. She was a beloved daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. Forever she will be in our thoughts and memories, and we will miss her deeply.
A memorial service celebrating Darlene’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 27, 2013, at the Upton Community Center, with a reception to follow.
Arrangements are under the direction of Worden Funeral Directors, Newcastle, Wyoming. Contributions may be made in memory of Darlene to the Upton Ambulance Fund, P.O. Box 278, Upton, Wyoming.