It is with everlasting love and sadness that this week we celebrate our beloved Darlene Alford's 75th Birthday. Born in the heart of post Word War II Los Angeles, Darlene spent her early years with her little sister in nearby Covina. Fortunately for her and Pat, their mother found them an amazing father figure in Carl McKee - who cared about them deeply and adopted them as his own. Soon after graduating high school, she met and married a young man who joined the Air Force and they moved to Lompoc, Ca. It was there she gave birth to Lynn, her first baby girl in 1964. It wasn't long before Darlene was divorced and remarried to a man who already had 3 young children of his own. Before you could say “Brady Bunch”, her first son, Alan was born, and then her youngest daughter, Debbie - and then another divorce - all by age 23. In 1970, Darlene and her 3 kids moved to San Diego to be near her parents, finally settling in Santee in 1974. She never moved again. She worked several jobs - sometimes 2 at a time - to take care of her family at a time when there wasn't much support in society for single mothers.
Once the kids were on their own, Darlene pursued the things in life that made her truly happy. From a young age, she had a real passion for music which stayed with her for the rest of her life, and dancing in particular. The San Diego Swing Dance Club enabled her to share her love of music (and extensive music collection) with others with the same passion. Oh, by the way, Darlene was a very good dancer. There is no doubt that her love of music has been passed down from her and through multiple generations.
Then came the Grandchildren, who became the center of her universe. Her greatest joy was spending time with her beautiful babies, whether it was taking them to the San Diego Zoo, Wild animal Park or Sea World. Darlene was always interested in whatever activities the youngsters were involved in at the time. The hardest part for Grandma Darlene was not being able to see the grandkids so much after her kids moved farther away. All she ever wanted was to get together with family.
Darlene was just an amazing, generous, independent woman with many interests. She loved camping and the outdoors - especially Yosemite. She had a special connection with waterfalls, running streams and animals of all kinds. In fact, she always had at least one feline friend around her. She was also a collector of many things antique, be it dolls, hat pins, books, spoons, old coins, tins or bottles.
Her favorite things included anything Betty Boop, Coca-Cola and murder- mystery TV shows, especially Agatha Christie. She loved the San Diego area, going out to dinner and exploring places old and new - especially Balboa Park, Old Town and Seaport Village. In retirement, The Day Trippers provided her a way to travel around the region with like-minded seniors, going to musicals and museums of every kind. Darlene loved to take lots of pictures, and had an infectious laugh that was one of a kind. It was said that Darlene was the most stylish lady of any crowd - nobody coordinated an outfit and jewelry better than she did.
The positive impact that Darlene had on so many lives could never be overstated.
Darlene was preceded in death by her parents Carl and DeLois Mckee, sister Pat McKee, and great-grandson Jr. Cervantes. She is survived by children Lynn (Jerry) Owens of Moreno Valley, Ca, Alan (Jenny) Alford of Galt, CA, and Debbie (Kim) Dexter of Ozark, MO; grandchildren Tabitha, Samantha, Kaycee, Trisha, Madison, and Devin; great-grandchildren Anna, Gabriel and baby Brooks, as well as her beloved kitty, Kate.
A celebration of life will be held privately at a later date, and at a campsite dedicated in her memory within Kumeyaay Lake Campground, Mission Trails Park in Santee, CA.