JACK M. DARDEN, SR. passed away on February 10, 2022, at Midland Memorial Hospital. Born on the Fourth of July 1926 at 927 Elm St. in Hillsboro, TX., he was the son of the late Bert Alexander Darden and Paralee Prince Darden. He had one sibling, his brother Bert, eight years his senior. He was reared in Hillsboro graduating with the Hillsboro High School class of 1943. He enrolled at Hillsboro Junior College while waiting to become old enough to serve in the Armed Services. As a Freshman he attended Freshman English and Physics classes with Mary Jo Lane whom he would later marry. In June of 1944 he volunteered for service in the United States Navy. Bootcamp was at Jacksonville, FL. and after training as an Aviation Ordnanceman, he was ordered to California and was serving in the Shore Patrol in Oakland at the end of World War II. After the war he married Mary Jo Lane on September 4, 1948, in Waxahachie, TX. at the home of her parents. They moved to Lubbock, TX. while Jack continued his education at Texas Tech. He earned a B.S. in Petroleum Geology and graduated with the class of 1949. He was hired by the Texas Company in their Geophysical Department and sent to Centreville, MS. with a “doodlebug” crew. His son, Jack, Jr. was born in Centreville in 1950. Jack was recalled to active duty in the Navy during the Korean Conflict. He served on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Bairoko (CVE 115) and helped occupy Okinawa, Japan. Upon returning to work for Texaco he transferred to their Geological Department, spending the next 25 years there. With Texaco he worked in Centreville, MS., Clinton, LA., Perryton, Canadian, and Abilene, TX. and in April 1957 was transferred to Midland, TX., rising to the position of District Exploration Geologist. Along the way five more members were added to the family: Amy and Roy in Abilene and Mike and Paul and Pat in Midland. Jack resigned from Texaco in 1974 and worked for Union Texas, Houston Oil & Mineral/Tenneco, High Plains Exploration/Transcontinental Energy, and Santa Fe Minerals, ending up with Shenandoah Petroleum, retiring at the age of 94. Throughout his career Jack promoted the drilling of discovery wells of the Kingdom, Gin, Tex-Hamon, Fuller East, Dominion, Crown and Monarch Fields. Wells that he recommended also extended the Fuller SE and Wescott Fields. He was a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society of Independent Earth Scientists, and the West Texas Geologic Society who presented him with the WTGS Pioneer Award on May 21, 2015. He also served on the Committee that recommended the exhibits that eventually became the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum. Jack was a past President of the Midland Gem & Mineral Society, past President of the Northern Little League and was active in the Jaycees, United Way, and Christmas in April programs. His main civic interest was the Midland Downtown Lion’s Club. He held a 40-year Perfect Attendance Record and held all the offices of the Executive Board. He was selected “Lion of the Year” for 1979-80 and was General Chairman of the 28th Annual Pancake Jamboree in 1982. He was The Downtown Lion’s Club President for 1982-83, the recipient of the Ray Gwyn Humanitarian Award 1987-88, the recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award 2002-03 and recipient of the George Miles Silver Vision Fellowship 2008-09. He served as President of the Lion’s Fire Prevention and Historical Foundation when it restored the first and second firetrucks to serve Midland, built a museum to house them and presented it to the City of Midland during its Centennial Celebration in 1985. He was President of the Lion’s Youth and Physically Handicapped Foundation when it restored the old Howard Hodge Theater to house the Lion’s Regional Eyeglass Recycling Center. He also endowed a Nursing Scholarship at Midland College in the name of his late wife Mary Jo Darden who was Chairman of the Midland Memorial Hospital Auxilliary Nursing Scholarship Committee 1986-2003. While in Abilene, Jack and Mary Jo, along with a group of young adults, without a church, met and held services in an auditorium on the campus of McMurry University. These young worshippers led by Reverend C.B. Melton planned, organized, and raised money to build Elmwood West United Methodist Church. When Reverend Melton was sent to Midland to pastor St. Mark’s Methodist Church the Darden Family joined that church. At his death Jack had been a member of St. Mark’s for 50+ years and had held many positions on the Official Board including Board Chairman. In the early 1960’s armed with a Popular Mechanics do-it-yourself article and a balsa wood mock-up Jack planned, designed, and constructed an A-frame cabin in Cloudcroft, NM. working summers and holidays with a labor force consisting of Mary Jo, his six children and an occasional Texaco cohort. Built and renovated over the years, “La Casa Con El Cielo Alto” has served as a Summer and Winter get-away and after 60+ years remains in the family. At his death Jack was the last original member of his neighborhood, living in the house he had built in 1960 on the extreme North side of town at the intersection of the last paved street in North Midland and a dirt road. The newly built Racquet Club was the only structure visible to the North and Wadley Street was a two-track trail at that time. He was a diehard fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Tech Red Raiders. He had recently had an article published in the “Texas Techsan” and had contributed a remembrance for an oral-history compilation put out by the University. He was beginning to take a liking to the Kansas City Chiefs. Jack was born just in time to spend his childhood in the Great Depression and his young manhood during a World War in which he served as a volunteer. He made his own life, found and thrived in an occupation that he loved, sent six children off to college and was truly a member of the Greatest Generation. He was preceded in death by beloved wife of 67 years Mary Jo Darden, his parents, his brother Bert, and his great grandson Tristan. His survivors are his six children: Jack, Jr. of Midland, Amy and Bob Paschich of El Paso, Roy and Carol Darden of The Woodlands, Mike and Judy Darden of Houston, Paul and Rebecca Darden of Shallowater, and Pat and Lynn Darden of Midland. His twelve grandchildren: Megan and Ronan Marra, Christi and Adam Elrod, Jacob Darden and Robin Gordon, Melissa and Heith Kemper, James and Stephanie Darden, Austin and Meena Darden, Ethan and Julie Darden, Dylan and Mykala Darden, Anna Marie and Judd Baldwin, Amanda and Dustin McConnell, Angela and Adam Tate, and Ross Darden. He is also survived by 18 great grandchildren, one niece and one nephew. The family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to those who stayed in contact with Dad through his trying times: Wylie Basham and Scott Rhodes, longtime friends and business associates; Lorraine Miles, Linda Runkles, and Carmen Sims who kept up frequent contact with Dad to see to his welfare and well-being; Janiece Rogers, his longtime house keeper and occasional barber; and especially Robert and Paula Sanchez his steadfast neighbors who provided Dad with friendship and were ready to lend assistance at a moment’s notice. Graveside services will be held Friday February 18 at Resthaven Memorial Park, Midland, Texas. Donations can be made in the name of Jack M. Darden to the Midland Downtown Lion’s Club, or a charity of one’s choice.
Published by Midland Reporter-Telegram on Feb. 17, 2022.
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