Donna Jean Wright Darby

Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Donna Jean Wright Darby
Donna Jean Wright Darby

On May 24, 2021, Donna Jean Wright Darby peacefully passed away at Tobacco Root Mountain Care Center in Sheridan after a brief illness. She was a lifelong resident of the Ruby Valley and the granddaughter of Madison County pioneers.

Mom and her sister, Delores, were born on July 15, 1927, in Butte to Lloyd Charles and Anna Irene (Dullea) Wright. The twins joined sister Margaret Rose and brother Bud (Donald). The family eventually grew to seven children and by the early 1930s was back at home in the Ruby Valley after Lloyd became ill with a miner’s lung and was no longer able to work for the Anaconda Company. Despite this illness and The Great Depression, mom’s childhood was filled with love, fun and a wonderful sense of community.

Mom graduated from Sheridan High School in 1946 and the next June she married Ted Darby. They raised four children. Once we children were old enough, Mom returned to work at the Pick and Pan Pharmacy where she had worked as a teenager. She also worked for George Latis, Dr. Warren Swager and the Montana State Liquor Store for a short time. Dad joked, however, that Mom would probably have paid George King to allow her to work at the Pick and Pan. She loved it that much. She adored the kids who came in to buy penny candy and comics and often helped them pick out gifts for their mothers. Mom must have dutifully wrapped and be-ribboned thousands of gifts during her years at the Pick and Pan. And the kids loved her too. In fact Mom was a second mom to many of the Sheridan kids we grew up with. She was a great listener, never judged, and offered advice when asked. Most important of all is that she offered understanding and encouragement. As her children, we knew there was nothing we couldn’t tell her. And we always knew that she would love us unconditionally.

Mom loved to read, travel and talk about ideas. She was interested in everything! She loved clothes and shopping for them and was a beautiful woman, inside and out.

Mom was a devout Catholic, giving much of her time to everything from teaching catechism to serving on the Parish Council or the Alter Society for St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s Parish.

Above all, mom was “the woman behind the man” in a true sense. While Dad busied himself with the bank, the school, the sports and the community, Mom devoted her life to us, her four children. Though she, too, was always involved in the community, we children always came first. No four children could have loved a mother more.

Donna was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; her son Patrick Darby; and grandson Patrick Mumme; siblings Margaret Miner, Bud Wright, Delores Peppin, Joan Hawkins and Carol Pogue.

She is survived by children James (Bernie) Darby, JoAnne (Tracy) Stephen and Kathleen (Chris) Mumme; grandchildren Scott (Jackie) Munk, Ted (Sandra) Darby, Erin (Chris) Leonard, Teresa Darby (Brent Amestoy), Matt (Kimberly) Vesco and Kathryn (Eddy) Colado; great-grandchildren Harper and Jack Leonard; sister Mary (Ralph) Snodgrass and brother-in-law Jerry Hawkins.

“God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference,” is a prayer that fits our mother perfectly because that is exactly how she lived her life.

The family would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to all the caregivers at Home Park Assisted Living where mom lived since March of 2015, and to the staff at Tobacco Root Mountain Care Center where she spent the last few weeks of her life. Your care and love will never be forgotten.

A vigil will be held at St. Mary’s in Laurin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8 with Mass on Wednesday, June 9 at 11 a.m. (also at St. Mary’s in Laurin). A celebration of life will be held when all family members can attend later in the summer. A potluck luncheon will be held after burial at Alder Community Center.

Memorials to Sheridan Scholarship Foundation, Tobacco Root Mountain Care Center or donor’s choice.