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Darlene Fay (Smith) Sartain


1943 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Darlene Fay (Smith) Sartain Obituary
Darlene Fay (Smith) Sartain

Visalia - Darlene Fay (Smith) Sartain was born in Fortuna, California on June 1, 1943. She was the second of four children born to Ivan Lee and Clara Katherine (Burgess) Smith. Darlene always joked that her claim to fame was being the largest baby born at the Fortuna Maternity Home weighing over nine pounds. Darlene has an older sister, Joann (Brekke), and two younger brothers, Gene Smith and Phil Smith. Darlene grew up very close to her siblings and they remained close friends for the rest of her life. They loved their "Smith Sibling's Weekend" every October once they all reached retirement age.

Darlene grew up on a dairy farm in Elinor which was located in Humboldt County. Growing up Darlene loved to play with her siblings and cousins as she was part of a very large extended family. She had 27 cousins. She was a bright and vibrant child who loved to read. She often claimed she had homework as an excuse to get out of chores—just to escape to a quiet place and read a novel! When Darlene was in 7th grade, the Smith family experienced a terrible flood that completely destroyed their dairy farm within hours. When the family left the house Darlene grabbed her white Bible to take with her which is early evidence of her deep and abiding faith that she leaned on throughout her life. That Bible and her mother's sewing machine were two of the few items to survive the flood. Darlene taught herself how to sew on that old machine. She kept it with her in later years as she ran a home sewing business filled with state of the art machines. After the flood, the family moved to Hydesville on land that the Red Cross purchased for them. Later they sold their devastated farm in Elinor to Save the Redwood League and is now part of the beautiful Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt County.

Darlene began her schooling in the newly-consolidated Scotia Elementary School. She graduated from Fortuna High School in 1961 as valedictorian of her class. She was very shy as a teenager and remembered shaking as she delivered her valedictorian address! She attended Humboldt State University before transferring to Sacramento State University where she graduated in 1965 with her teaching credential.

While at Fortuna High, Darlene started dating Harlin Robert (Bob) Sartain. They attended the same high school and church. As a teen dinner was being planned, Bob asked the pastor if any of the young ladies were without a date. Darlene's name was mentioned and thus began the story of their lifelong romance! Darlene and Bob were married on August 17, 1963 at the Hydesville Community Church.

They moved to Sacramento where Bob started work at Aerojet. As Bob continued his higher education, they moved to Visalia, California, where Bob taught mathematics, physics, and engineering at the College of the Sequoias for 34 years. Darlene taught 1st grade for two years before starting their family. In 1968, Darlene, Bob, and their first baby moved into a small house on three acres. They loved this property for the rest of their lives as they added onto the house; planted orange, pomegranate, plum, and lemon trees, and even an orchard of walnut trees that the family harvested each year. They built a 40 foot swimming pool in which many children swam on the hot summer days in Visalia.

Darlene and Bob had five children; Michael, Kenneth, Teresa, Tamara, and Penny. Their lives were always busy and full of the adventures of raising five children. Darlene wrote witty letters that captured their daily joys and catastrophes in a home she came to call "Crazy Acres." Darlene and Bob had a gift for finding the humor in everyday situations. Although a busy wife and mother, Darlene continued her love of reading mystery novels by reading late into the night after everyone was asleep.

Stories, problems, and laughter were always shared at their long kitchen counter as Darlene served up delicious food—often citrus from the trees Bob planted; jelly she made from their pomegranates; and always delicious cakes and cookies. The Sartain home was the center of extended family gatherings and reunions. They kept close ties with childhood friends and delighted in new friendships. They truly cherished their time with their six grandchildren. Hospitality and generosity were their trademark.

Darlene was artistically creative in many ways such as photography, writing, and ceramics. She showed her special genius through sewing. As a young mother, she enjoyed sewing clothes and costumes for her children. She later turned this talent into a second career as Bob built her a huge sewing room where she ran a upholstery and custom sewing business. Interior designers came to her for beautiful custom jobs. All members of her family have special quilts she made just for them. Once she acquired an embroidery machine, each member of the family had unique and customized t-shirts, towels, and blankets!

After Bob's death in 2005, Darlene continued to host family gatherings in her home. Grandchildren as well as great-nieces and nephews will always remember hours spent in the beautiful swimming pool and eating her delicious cookies. The few times Darlene jumped off the diving board live in family legend! The children will also remember her jumping with them on the trampoline, demonstrating her Pogo stick skills, and walking across the yard on stilts.

Darlene battled Alzheimer's Disease for the past 15 years. Her family is deeply appreciative of the loving caregivers who made it possible for Darlene to stay in her home until just a few months ago. She enjoyed swimming in her pool; taking care of her yard; and visits from friends and family. Her special wit and twinkle were always evident. As the disease progressed, Darlene continued to sing her favorite song "When We All Get to Heaven" over and over. This was a special gift of promise to her family and friends as she passed on July 3, 2018 in Colorado Springs surround by loved ones.

Darlene was preceded in death by her husband Harlin Robert (Bob) Sartain and her parents, Ivan and Clara Smith. She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Kristin Sartain of Colorado Springs, Colorado; son, Kenneth Sartain of Long Beach, California, daughter, Teresa Sartain of Visalia, California, daughter, Tami Ames of Chowchilla, California, and Penny Sartain. She has six treasured grandchildren: Tristan Sartain, Cassie Sartain, Emma Sartain, Melissa Sartain, Zachary Sartain, and Samantha Ames. She is also survived by her sister, Joann Brekke of Eureka, California; brother, Gene (Linda) Smith of Montara, California; brother, Phil (Vicki) Smith of Selma, Oregon; and sister-in-law, Kay Burgess of Fortuna, California; as well as numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and close friends.

A graveside memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations can be made to the at www.alz.org in memory of Darlene Sartain.
Published in Tulare Advance-Register & Visalia Times-Delta on July 14, 2018
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