January 9, 1920 - December 23, 2012
Ara Darpinian passed away peacefully at the age of 92, on Sunday, December 23, 2012 at his home on the Bald Eagle Ranch located just north of Modesto. He was born in Reedley, California to Kasper and Rose Darpinian. The family moved to the Modesto area in 1933 where they farmed a variety of fruit and nut crops and also operated a fruit dry yard business which employed hundreds of people.
In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served as a Sergeant in the 374th Troop Carrier Group in New Guinea. Ara was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon with battle stars. He also received two Presidential Unit citations.
In 1952, Ara, along with his older brother Suren (Si) and their father Kasper, formed K. Darpinian and Sons, Inc., a family farming corporation still in operation today. During the 1960's Si and Ara grew their multi-crop farming enterprise into one of the largest canning peach operations in California with ranches located from Linden to Livingston.
A kind and caring man who loved both his family and farming, Ara was also an avid fisherman and hunter. He loved to fish for stripers in the delta, troll for trout in the Sierra lakes and made many trips to San Carlos, Mexico with friends to fish for yellowtail. He took his family on many memorable camping, hunting and fishing adventures.
Ara loved to spend time at Nifty's Restaurant in Riverbank, visiting with friends made over a lifetime of hard work and thousands of cups of coffee. He often went there with his longtime family friend and hunting partner, Nelson Hall, a practice they continued until just before Ara's passing.
Over his lifetime Ara served on the Board of Directors of the Freestone Peach Association, the California Canning Peach Association, and was a founding member of the Cling Peach Council. He also enjoyed his memberships in the Old Fisherman's Club, the Elks Club, and was a member of The American Legion.
Ara was preceded in death in 1997 by his wife of fifty years, Florence Darpinian. He was the youngest of his family, preceded in death by his four siblings: Suren Darpinian, Zepher Goudeau, Stella Jacobs, and Lucy Darpinian. He is survived by his four children, Jane Darpinian of Modesto, Gary Darpinian (Kelly) of Escalon, Joan Schulman (Gary) of Van Nuys, and Larry Darpinian of Modesto; grandchildren, James Darpinian, Laura Toste (Matt), Joel Schulman, Kyle Schulman, William Darpinian, Katherine Darpinian and great-grandson Logan Gary Toste. Ara's family will always be grateful to Marilyn Smith, who was a wonderful companion, travel partner, and caregiver to Ara during the last years of his life.
The Ara Darpinian family extends an invitation to family and friends to join in a memorial dinner in his honor on Thursday, January 3 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Del Rio Country Club located at 801 Stewart Road, Modesto. A private graveside service will be held on Friday, January 4 at 1:00 p.m. at Ararat Cemetery in Fresno.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to Community Hospice, 4368 Spyres Way, Modesto, CA 95356-9259.
Published in the Modesto Bee from Dec. 30, 2012 to Jan. 2, 2013