Darlene was born on Sept. 17, 1940, in Eddyville, Neb., to Alvin and Erema Wiley. She was the baby sister to Robert (Bobby) and Charles (Chuck) who loved to torment her as brothers do.
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On the farm, she loved her ponies and the freedom they gave her to explore. As many farm kids did, she drove into Lexington for school at the age of 14, and she found her foot seemed to weigh a bit more when she was driving.
On a sad day in 1954, her oldest brother, whom she loved so much, died. But Darlene was an adventurer, and after she graduated from Lexington High School at 17, she went off to Omaha where she attended airline school. Once that was completed, she was quickly hired by Frontier Airlines and moved to Denver, Colo. She worked in communications, reservations and then as a stewardess on DC-3s. She loved the airlines and the opportunities she had to fly to far off places with her mom and dad and later with her own family.
In 1959, she met Aldon (Al) Sprenger, the love of her life, while working at Frontier. They married on Sept. 1, 1963. Darlene and Al had two sons, Brian and Gregg, which became her focus along with Al. Darlene was always proud of everything her sons accomplished and was always their biggest cheerleader.
In 1974, the family moved to Bozeman, when Al became station manager for Frontier. A year later, her dad, who encouraged her to be an adventurer, passed away. She missed him very much. She worked part-time at a travel agency and later at D&R Vending in addition to raising her boys. In 1987, Darlene and Al started Air Carrier Services, which provided security screening at Gallatin Field Airport until 2002. As the company's president, she found that she needed to become licensed as a private investigator, which she easily achieved despite how nervous the testing process made her.
In 2002, her brother, Chuck, died and then in 2003, her mom, whom she loved dearly, passed away. With having only sons, she lived in a male-dominated house since even the dogs were male, but that changed as her sons married and finally she got daughters and eventually some of the most important people in her life, her grandchildren.
Brian and his first wife, Kim, brought Darlene and Al their first grandchild, Austin. When Brian married his second wife, Phronsie, Darlene immediately added two more grandchildren, Anthony and Cassie, and they soon added Isabelle. Isabelle and Grandma became instant buddies watching Sponge Bob and QVC together when not ganging up on Grandpa. Meanwhile, Darlene and Phronsie became very close fulfilling a gap in Darlene's life that no son could fill.
Gregg brought Darlene a family of his own when he married Teresa, adding two more wonderful grandchildren, Tyler and Maya.
She was quite proud that she and Al celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Sept. 1, 2013.
Darlene was an adventurer when many never left home, and she said she was one of the fortunate few to have achieved what she wanted to accomplish in life despite life's setbacks. Darlene was fiercely loyal and once Darlene decided you were ok, she loved you forever.
On Dec. 31, 2013, Darlene passed away quietly with her family by her side knowing how much she was loved. We will all miss our wife, our mom, our grandma and our friend. We love you!
Private family services will be held. Memorials may be made in her name to Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 11390, Bozeman, MT 59719.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Jan. 3 to Jan. 5, 2014