Sept. 7, 1934 — Dec. 17, 2012
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Betty Darlene Tammen was born on a farm in Kankakee, IL, on Sept. 7, 1934. She attended Whittier grade school followed by Thornton High School in Harvey, Ill. In both schools musical classes, chorus and musical productions were the joy of her life. In high school she and her best friend from age 13, Laura, formed a girls club named KITS. One KITS’ legacy is the gals have enjoyed their friendship through many enjoyable reunions for over 50 years. KITS stands for Kissable … (the reader is asked to decode the remaining letters after K.)
Darlene’s first date with her husband-to-be was memorable as her hair was in curlers. On her second date, May 21, 1951, she started a date scrapbook, pasting in memorabilia, cuttings, photos, etc. This scrapbook recorded their many dates, continuing throughout the year and into the next. It reached a peak with an elopement to Elgin, Ill., on Nov. 21, 1952. The Methodist Minster, upon hearing their request for marriage, initially said “No.” But Darlene gave him a watch that they found while walking to his church. Rev. Rogers relented and the marriage ceremony took place. From this point on, the duo never looked back, as their love for each other grew.
Darlene was the matriarch of the McHenry family. She was the glue that held us all together and kept us on the right track. One KITS said of her, “She had her feet firmly planted in reality and kindness.” Other KITS’s repeated the “kindness” aspect of her life. She had strong principles that she lived by, yet at the same time she was a quiet, gentle soul. The McHenry’s grew up as a family in Saratoga, and our roots have been firmly planted here. She has many friends in the area. She played in five bridge groups. She completed her two-year degree at West Valley Community College.
In February 2003, Darlene was diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer’s. As the years passed by, this illness slowly got progressively worse. In time, being a 24/7 caregiver became her husband’s privilege. This allowed her to stay at home in familiar surroundings, even her last day. At the end, her heart gave way on Dec. 17, 2012, and she went home to be with the Lord. At that time she was still “mobile” and her pleasant personality had not changed.
For our 60th wedding anniversary, Nov. 21, 2012, our children, Cathy and Steve gave us two photo albums which, along with Darlene’s “Grandmother Remembers” book, have taken on a new significance with her passing. These three items have become a beautiful memorial to her and honor her life, which cherished family and friends interwoven with her commitment to Jesus and his Church.
Darlene is survived by her husband, Lawrence; daughter, Cathy Ann; son, Steven Lynn; and three grandchildren, Misty, Jason and Marshall.
The burial will be a private ceremony with family and close friends at The Madronia Cemetery in Saratoga, on April 20, at 11 a.m. A memorial service celebrating Darlene’s life will follow at 2 p.m., at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 14103 Saratoga Ave., in Saratoga.