We're here to celebrate the life of a living doll, Darlene Johnson-Austin, or as many knew her, Doll. Born in Waterloo, IA, on February 12, 1955, Darlene was a whirlwind of ambitious energy. After a two-week vacation in California, she decided that sunshine and the ocean were her jam, and she moved west. She landed a gig with Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. as an operator and climbed the ladder to management with AT&T. She parlayed her job into a cross-country adventure, working in California, Macon, Georgia, Jacksonville, Florida, and Dallas, Texas before retiring in 2005. It's safe to say Darlene made long-distance calls cool before cell phones were a thing.
Darlene was the queen of arts and crafts and could crochet a masterpiece while simultaneously executing a perfect cha-cha slide. Her handmade picture collages were a sight to behold, capturing memories in a beautiful blend of color and creativity. She was a survivor, beating lung cancer in 2009, and a generous soul, sharing her "daily blessings" with loved ones every morning. Proverbs 11:25, "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed," held a special place in her heart, capturing her belief in God and her love for sharing inspiration with others.
To say that Darlene was a people person is an understatement. She never met a stranger, just friends she hadn't met yet. She loved and accepted people as they were and always had a listening ear. She was a thoughtful friend, a loving wife to Curtis III, and an adoring mother to Melena, Lemela, stepchildren Tina and Raymond, and godchildren Serenity, Savion, and Will. And let's not forget her role as super-grandma to a troop of grandkids and even a great-grandson.
Darlene was preceded in death by her parents, Cleveland and Arnimell Harris, siblings Jessie, Lillie, Florene, Leon, and Laverne, and her son Letwaun. Now, she's probably up there teaching the angels how to do the electric slide.
A visitation for Darlene will be held on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, at 12:00pm CDT at David W. Barnes Funeral Home, 306 North Cline Road, Coffeyville, Kansas, 67337. In classic Darlene fashion, let's make it a celebration rather than a mourning. Wear your favorite colorful outfit, bring your best stories, and get ready to share in the laughter and love that Darlene brought to each and every one of our lives.
Please take a moment to share your favorite memories of Darlene and upload photos to the memorial page. Let's keep her spirit alive by remembering the joy, laughter, and love she brought into our lives.