Family HIstory

Don Darnell Obituary

  • January 14, 2020

Donald F. Darnell

Morely, Michigan:

Donald F. Darnell, 74, of Morley, passed away unexpectedly while on his farm Friday, Nov. 29, 2019.

He was born July 25, 1945, in Barryton and was the son of Cecil and Lillian (Hart) Darnell.

Don graduated from Barryton High School in 1963. He attended Ferris State College, earning a degree in criminal justice before entering the Michigan State Police Academy.

Don graduated with academic honors in 1968 and accepted his first assignment at the Michigan State Police Post in Bridgeport. Transfers brought him to posts in Rockford in 1970 and Lakeview in 1974.

After a short-term assignment at the Reed City post, Don returned to Lakeview, where he was chosen Michigan Police Officer of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He retired from the Lakeview post as a sergeant in June, 1995.

Don worked for Newago Public Schools from 1996 to 2002, as the GED test administrator.

Don lived on his farm near Morley for over 45 years and, like most men in the Darnell family, loved horses. Don’s devotion to the care and training of his horses is legendary. His sage advice and willingness to help and guide others will be greatly missed.

As a long-time member of the Michigan Horsepulling Boat Association, he not only was a mentor to many, but spent many years as president, serving with dedication to bring his love of horse pulling to many areas in Michigan. His life-time hobby was draft horsepulling which became full-time in retirement.

Don’s love for his horses was surpassed only by the love for his family, especially his grandchildren.

Don was loved and respected by his friends and associates, the horsepulling community and his beloved family, whose members include, his wife of 17 years, Mary Kay; children, Dr. Bart (Dina) Darnell, of East Tawas, Tobin Darnell, of Milan, Charlie (fiancee Katie Smith) Darnell, of Milan, and Dr. Amanda (Mark) Holtz, of Dexter; four grandchildren, Donovan Darnell, Miles Darnell, Sally Holtz, and Henry Holtz; step-daughter, Vicki (Mark) Courts, of Harris, Minnesota; two sisters, Audrey Ritt, of Dexter, and Carol (Don) Rupert, of Marion; and several nieces and nephews.

Don was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Sally, in 2002; a brother, Cecil Darnell; and brother-in-law, Al Ritt.

Funeral services will take place at noon, Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Daggett-Gilbert Funeral Home in Big Rapids, with Pastor Frank Taylor officiating. The family will greet friends from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m., on Tuesday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Don’s name may be made to his family, the Michigan Horsepulling Boat Association or the charity of the donor’s choice.

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