Born to Helen Bechtold and Roy Kelley on August 6, 1927 in Avon, South Dakota, Darlene spent most of her childhood at the South Dakota School for the Blind, a boarding school, also attended by her older brother, Jesse.
Throughout her life Darlene endured numerous operations, with varying degrees of success, intended to improve her eyesight. Regardless of the outcome, she steadfastly refused to allow restricted vision to keep her from living life to the fullest.
Darlene married Robert Fletcher in 1946. They lived in Wisconsin, Illinois, and the Dakotas before settling in Anaheim, CA where Darlene worked as an operator for Pacific Telephone and Robert worked as a mechanic. They stayed together for twenty-four years, raising five children, before a divorce in 1970 paved the way for the relationship that would prove to be the love of Darlene’s life.
In 1984 she met and fell in love with Earle Alldredge at a community dance in Fullerton, CA. The happy couple moved to Leisure World in 1989, and married in 1998. Darlene and Earle spent countless hours at Old Man’s beach in San Onofre, where Earle rode the waves well into his eighties. They made the most of their time together, traveling to Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, Alaska and even cruising through the Panama Canal.
As an active member of the Leisure World community, Darlene planned outings for the partially sighted and fortified more than a few social groups with her boundless energy and optimism. She donated her time to the Braille Institute in Anaheim and took part in the prayer chain at Laguna Country United Methodist Church, where she was a member of the United Methodist Women’s group.
Darlene’s love of travel and devotion to her community and church was surpassed only by her commitment to family. Her happiest moments were spent in the company of her children and grandchildren.
Darlene will be remembered for her tremendous generosity, tenacity of spirit, and her extraordinary ability to rise above obstacles, always finding strength in the face of hardship.
Five children, thirteen grandchildren, fifteen great-grandchildren, one sister, two aunts and several nieces and nephews proudly carry on her memory.