Darlene D. Eklund passed away peacefully on Wednesday, September 28, blessed with 94 years of age, a loving family, and a lifetime of friends. She was a resident at Arbor Springs, a dementia community in West Des Moines, IA since 2020. Arbor Springs is a Montessori certified facility where Darlene had amazing support. She appreciated and loved so many of the caregivers and staff, and our family is grateful those at Arbor Springs that cared dearly for Darlene through her journey of dementia.
Palmer Funeral Home, Gowrie will oversee arrangements. A Celebration of Life is planned for Saturday, November 11, 2023 at the Gowrie United Methodist Church at 10:30 AM with a visitation 1 hour prior to the service at the church then burial at Lost Grove Township Cemetery, followed with a luncheon at the church. As a tribute to Darlene, the family has chosen the traditional Gowrie UMC 4th of July menu for the luncheon to celebrate her hometown and lifelong love of Gowrie.
Darlene was born on the Johnson family farm just east of Gowrie, where she lived most of her life. She attended Gowrie High School, graduating in the class of 1946. She met Verne Eklund of Dayton at a local dance and after his Army duty, they married in 1949. It was a double ceremony wedding with Darlene’s sister Marie and husband Jack. Both she and Verne attended the Iowa Teachers College, now UNI, receiving degrees in education. She taught elementary classes at Lehigh School and Lanyon School. Darlene was active teaching Sunday school, helping with the farming, and raising four children. In later years she was a director with Webster County Campfire Girls program, a co-manager at the Gowrie County Club with best friend, Greta Jansa. In 1985, Three Ladies Jewelry company was formed with Darlene, Greta, and Roxanne, her daughter, as partners in a manufacturing jewelry business in Gowrie. The local, women-owned company thrived for 14 years until Darlene and Greta made the decision to retire for spending time with grandchildren and traveling. Darlene and Verne did visit several areas in Sweden with family Harold and Audrey Eklund and others from Boxholm, IA. Darlene’s ancestors originated from Ekeby, Sweden and Verne’s ancestors were from Boxholm, Sweden only 15 miles apart- coincidentally as in their hometowns in Iowa. Darlene was active with local clubs and her Gowrie Church events; she was always busy enjoying coffee with so many friends. Some of her most memorable times involved the 4th of July celebration in Gowrie, where the Eklunds teamed up with the Jansa family for floats in the parade, followed with family reunions and the annual Methodist Church chicken dinner.
Darlene will be missed dearly by her family and friends. She is survived by her children: Roxanne Eklund (husband Mike Betker) of Cave Creek, Arizona, Dan Eklund (Linda) of Huxley, IA, Rhonda Eklund of Phoenix, Arizona, Luanne Pender (Tom) of Naperville, IL. She is blessed with 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren; Rachael Crawford (husband Zachary Bradshaw) of Brooklyn, NY, Ross Crawford, (wife Jessica Flagg) of Richmond, VA, Ryan Eklund (Katie) and children Lucy and Brynn of Westfield, IN, Alex Eklund (Anna) and children Emma and Olivia of Slater, IA, Molly Voelker (Trevor) of New Virginia, IA, Lucas Gibson of Chicago, IL, Stuart Pender of Brooklyn, NY and Grant Pender of Brooklyn, NY.
Darlene was preceded in death by her husband, Verne, her parents Vernie and Reuben Johnson, her sister and husband Marie and Jack Dettmann and brother and wife Laurel and Kathryn Johnson.
Memorials may be left to the family’s discretion.