Janice Apaula Nichols Browning-Darden of Pine Lake at Peniel, near Palatka, Florida, was called into eternal rest on Monday evening, April 15, after an extended illness.
Janice was born in Georgia to Paul and Myrtle Knight Nichols. Her father worked with the Hercules Powder Company, which led the family to live in various places in Georgia and Florida.
An auburn-haired, blue-eyed beauty, Janice was elected as the first Miss Union County High School (1950) in Lake Butler, Florida, and was voted "Best Looking" and "Most Popular" at her school.
After graduating from high school, she married David Browning and they settled in Gainesville, FL, where she attended the University of Florida
on a teacher's scholarship awarded to her by the Florida House of Representatives. It was there she earned her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Education.
Janice touched many lives as an educator. During her 34-year career (17 as a teacher, then 17 as an administrator), she served in Gainesville's PK Yonge Developmental Research School and Stephen Foster Elementary, Orange Park's St. Johns Country Day School and S. Bryan Jennings Elementary, as well as Putnam County 's Interlachen Elementary, Interlachen Jr.-Sr. High, Bostwick Elementary, Melrose Elementary, and Mellon Elementary. While a teacher, she was credited with saving a child's life, and was Teacher of the Year at Mellon School, where she was nominated by its principal, the late Samuel Baxter. While an administrator, she served as an evaluator for the Florida Association of Colleges and Schools and was selected as District II Director (covering eighteen counties) in the Florida Association of Elementary School Principals. In the 1960's she also taught civil defense classes for the general public, and adult education classes for Hudson (Georgia-Pacific) employees who were pursuing a diploma.
Janice was a member of two educational societies. In Delta Kappa Gamma (DKG), an international society of key women educators, she served two consecutive terms as president of its local chapter (Alpha Sigma). She was also a past member of Alpha Delta Kappa.
Janice was a benefactor of Palatka's David Browning Railroad Museum, which was dedicated by the Palatka City Commission on September 24, 1993, the seventieth birthday of her husband, David, a railroad man and prominent civic leader who died in 1994.
Janice was active in Peniel Baptist Church, where she had been a member since 1964. She served in many capacities there, including director of Girl's Auxiliary (G.A.'s) and almost twenty years as president of the Women's Missionary Union (WMU). In 2006 she married the Rev. Grady Darden, who has served as pastor and minister of music at several churches. Janice taught the Precious Moments adult ladies' Sunday School class and promoted the motto F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely On God).
Janice was preceded in death by her parents and by her younger sister, Judith Nichols Byrd.
Survivors include her husband, Grady Carlisle Darden, III of Peniel; two daughters, Janice Deanna Browning of Gainesville, FL, and Rebecca Browning Altman of Peniel; two grandsons, Alexander David Altman and Eric Samuel Altman of Peniel; one granddaughter, Erin Marie Browning-Paine of Gainesville; and two nephews, Augustus Bedford "Bugs" Byrd IV of Palm Coast, FL and Austin Bevan Byrd of Colorado.
The family will receive friends at Masters Funeral Home in Palatka on Friday, April 19th, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Homegoing service will be held on Saturday, April 20th, at 10:00 a.m. at Peniel Baptist Church in Palatka, FL with Revs. Benny Reynolds, Leroy Lewis, Lester Jenkins and Bill Wing officiating. Interment will follow in the Peniel Cemetery.
Friends may sign the online guestbook at www.themastersfuneralhomes.com
. Memorial gifts may be sent to the Peniel Baptist Church (for the Building Fund), 5227 Silver Lake Drive, Palatka, FL 32127 or Delta Kappa Gamma (for the Scholarship fund), P.O. Box 1132, Palatka, FL 32178.
Masters Funeral Home of Palatka is in charge of arrangements.