I am Jo Nell Bazar Darden. My mother is Margaret Crumpton Bazar Livingston and my father is Henry Bazar. I was born at home in Longview, Texas in December, 1934 and was the second of my Mother's two children. My older sister is Maxine Bazar Silvey. I also have a very dear aunt, Jimmie Franks, who lives in Alabama. Her children are Gordon, Andy, Susan and Tommy, all very sweet and loving with precious children of their own.
My father and mother grew up in Longview and I grew up there, too. My mother worked hard as a bookkeeper so I was able to go to school on my own, even in my earliest grades. Sometimes, I would wander along the shops on main street, just window shopping, as I made my way to school. Other times, I would walk to a nearby park, lay down in the soft green grass and look up at the trees, watch the clouds in the sky, listen to the birds, enjoy the soft breeze and daydream. I never felt alone because, even as a little girl, I always felt the Lord was with me everywhere I went. Somehow, I always made it to school on time. I have a love of gardening, cooking, making perfumes with essential oils, potpourri concoctions, world news and events, knitting, sewing, Scrabble, Bridge, music (especially John Phillips Sousa!) traveling the world and especially, studying the Holy Bible and scriptures. My favorite hymn is 'In the Garden' and my favorite songs are 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' and 'God Bless the USA' by Lee Greenwood.
I attended the Longview public schools and, in my teen years, took typing and shorthand classes. These two subjects served me well for later in life when I went to work as a secretary. I met my beloved husband, Windell Don Darden in Longview while still in high school. We were high school sweethearts and married in August of 1950. He joined the Army and was stationed at Presidio of Monterey Army Base in Monterey, California.
Eventually, we moved to Odessa and then on to Andrews, Texas. My first child, Jo Donna Darden (Darden) Atkins, was born in February of 1952. My second child, Vicki Lynn (Darden) Meador, was born in March of 1954. And, my youngest child, Dennis Arnaz Darden, was born in July of 1956. They brought so much joy into our lives! I was a full time mother and housewife while they grew up. I never missed a school event or a class play! Our son, Dennis, died in February of 1999.
My husband and I were blessed by being transferred to Algeria (late '70's to mid '80's) for 8 years as my husband worked in the oil business as a Chemical and Metallurgical Engineer. We learned to speak French before leaving El Paso to help us communicate effectively with the Algerians. We made many friends there and all around the world as we traveled extensively during those happy years. We had many exciting adventures as we visited Switzerland, Germany, England, France, Israel (Don's & my favorite!), Spain, Italy, Austria, Holland and lived on the Mediterranean Sea in a cute little home in Bethioua Oran, Algeria. We loved to visit old castles, sometimes staying overnight in them as they were renovated into hotels. We shopped at flea markets everywhere we went and shipped our items home as some were too heavy to carry. We especially loved traveling on the scenic trains as we weaved our way through the different countries. One time in Switzerland, our train stopped for more passengers and Don stepped off for a moment to pick up a newspaper. Before he could get back, our train moved on and another train pulled up. He got on the wrong train, only to discover we were on different trains going in different directions! After a lot of panic and coordination with the authorities, we were finally reunited. Everyone on my train heard what had happened. When Don stepped back on our train, he received a lot of cheers, whistles and clapping! Everyone was so happy! I'm not sure a newspaper was worth all that. One of my favorite things to do was play Bridge with our fellow ex-pats. We had so many parties! My beloved husband passed away, it seems like a long time ago, in 2010, at the age of 79 after almost 60 years of marriage.
I have lived in Waskom since 1984. The nice folks here have taken good care of me but I have to say that growing old has not been a lot of fun. I was sad when I had to stop driving my car and transfer to a very slow walker. At least my walker had wheels instead of tennis balls for feet. Thankfully, I never had any wrecks and never injured anyone with either one.
My daughter, Donna, who lives next door to me, has three children, Shon King, who is married to Crystal, their children are Matthew, Brittany, Skylar, and Paige. Paige has two children, Miley and Lawson. My granddaughter, Amanda Jo Atkins Ponder is married to David Ponder & their children are Madeleine and Jeremiah. My grandson, Robert Jeffrey Atkins has a son, Robert Ehren. Our youngest daughter, Vicki Meador, has three children, Dustin, Natalie and Allison. Allison is married to Keith Richards and they have two children, Emily and James. My son, Dennis has three children, Joseph Darden, who along with his precious daughter, Kaitlyn, recently married McKenna Darden. Also, Andrew Darden, who is married to Isela Darden and their three children, Aiden, Ava, and Anson. And, Desiree Darden Jones, who is married to Keon Jones, and their children are Destinee and Danika. From a second marriage, Dennis' children are Jessica Sather, who is married to Dan Sather & their children, Nate, Autumn and June. Nate has a daughter, Ivie. Dennis' youngest son is Austin Darden.
I leave behind two very wonderful sons-in-law, Dan Meador and Bill Atkins. They have been so loving, helpful, dear and precious to me. I also leave behind a precious daughter-in-law, Jodie Darden, who was married to Dennis. She has been an amazing mother, a very sweet daughter to me, and makes a killer apple pie!
My life is done but I hope to be remembered for a while longer by those left behind. There are plenty of funny stories that I'm willing for them to tell, including whatever small number of mistakes that I've made in my nearly 86 years in town. I apologize for any unintended affronts that I have committed. I am proud of my heritage, the beautiful churches I have attended and the faith I have practiced these many years. I have had the privilege of listening to beautiful sermons by Dr. Charles Stanley, Robert Jeffress, Andrew Womack & John Hagee. No one ever fell asleep listening to them! I died this evening, June 25, 2020, in the care of St. Joseph's Hospice in Shreveport, La.
As a lifelong follower of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, moving beyond my long life on this side of Heaven, I am confident that my fate is in God's hands and that He knows best. "May the Lord bless thee, and keep thee: may the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: May the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. Amen."
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