We knew a woman with a kind heart, devoted to her family who had a love of teaching. We are an honored family to have been guided through life by her kindness, faithfulness, support, and courage.
Darlene was born at home in Yuma, Colorado on July 9, 1930 to Byron Cyrus Mitchell and Lillian Audrey (Adams) Mitchell. She was an only child for the short time of 18 months before her twin brothers Keith and Kenneth were born. She passed away peacefully at her home at the age of 92 on September 28, 2022.
Darlene was united in marriage to Russell Lee Korf on August 11, 1948. To this union of 68 years three children were born: Vicki Sue, D’Ann Verdyll and Mitchell Lee.
Graduating from Yuma High and restarting her education, she attended NJC in Sterling, Colorado and UNC in Greeley, Colorado, receiving a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Reading along with a Certification in Administration. Her first teaching assignment took her to Eckley, Colorado in 1966, transferring to Yuma schools in 1968, where she devoted the next 35 years to teaching and administration. During this time, she served as a classroom teacher, reading coordinator and principal of Morris Primary. Darlene finished as assistant superintendent over all the federal programs and state requirements for the district, including attendance and Title 1 funding. While at Morris she established a non-graded primary K-3 reading program. She set up and put into place the Morris Primary pre-kindergarten program, which won an award for Early Childhood Education. The program continued until it was moved to become Little Indians Pre-school. She filled in as principal at the Middle School one semester when the need arose.
Feeling that teaching was the most fun of all, she was known to tell her husband Russell, that she felt guilty for getting paid for having so much fun.
Occasionally over the years, from her home, Darlene assisted adult members of the Yuma community who needed reading instruction. After retiring, at the age of 70, Darlene volunteered in the STARS Reading program at Morris Elementary and in the school library also raising money to buy books for the new library.
During the construction of the new Morris Elementary building, some of the former teachers planned a memorial in the form of an apple tree to be placed in the front hall of the new building. There was to be an apple to recognize every employee of the old Morris Elementary School. Darlene was instrumental in locating and compiling the data, researching the archives, and organizing the information on the computer, listing the names and years of all previous employees.
With funds from the estate of her brother Keith, and later nephew Mike, Darlene set up the Audio Books Program for the Yuma Public Library and kept it going with additional new books each year.
The old Blach school house was brought into town and placed near the museum. She wrote two grants to help make that happen. The school had special sentimental value to her because her mother taught in that school building.
Countless hours were spent at the Yuma Museum doing all the computer work, itemizing and cataloging everything in the museum. She served as a museum board member for 30 years and churned loads of ice cream for the museum’s annual ice cream social.
Darlene served on the Community Cupboard Board as member and secretary. She helped the Cupboard move to its present location and arranged financing for the purchase.
She also served on the Hospital Auxiliary Board, was a member of the Yuma County Retired School Employees Association and was a volunteer for the Meals on Wheels Program.
As a member of the Community of Christ Church in Yuma, she taught Sunday School and Bible School, sang in the choir and was an adult Bible Study leader.
Darlene will be missed by daughter Vicki Sue and husband Mike Mueller of Yuma, daughter D’Ann and husband Mike Bennett of Fort Collins, Colorado, and son Mitchell and wife Cindy Korf of Yuma, nine grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren, sister-in-law Dorothy Mitchell and clan, Alba, Kelly, many friends, and former students.
Preceding Darlene in death were her husband Russell, her parents, Byron and Lillian, brother Keith and wife Jean, brother Kenneth, nephew Mike Mitchell and her Korf in-laws.
In summary, Darlene was a giver, she gave to her family and community in quiet ways, content to serve behind the scenes.