Gloria Ruth Johnson Darden died January 28, 2018, on her late husband’s birthday. She was 90 years old. Gloria was born April 4, 1927, at Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital in Columbia South Carolina. That hospital was special to the family because it was the first African American hospital in South Carolina. It was founded in 1924 by her uncles, Dr. Norman A. Jenkins and his four brothers. The family donated many capital gifts to Benedict College and Allen University in Columbia. She was the only child born to Ruth Watson Johnson Delorme and Theodore Johnson.
Gloria spent her elementary and high school years in Columbia. She finished Booker T. Washington High School at the age of 16, went to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in English. At Fisk she met her life partner, Dr. Alvin Darden of Shelbyville, Indiana. They subsequently became known as “Buttercup” and “Fuddles.” They raised five children in Cincinnati, Ohio.
During her 90 years, Gloria was a mom, educator and community leader. She had a profound and long lasting impact on her children. She taught her children lessons of love, shaped their consciences, enforced loyalty, devotion dignity and commitment; all the values that made them who they are today. She made all of her children feel special in their unique way, but she was amazing at reassuring the loving presence to everyone and anyone she came in contact with.
She was active in the Cincinnati community during the civil rights era. Life Magazine honored her for her community organizing efforts. In 1959, she began her career in education. She taught special education at Dyer School from 1972 to 1974)then moved to Princeton High School from 1975 to 1996 where she taught Advanced Placement English. After her husband passed in 1995 and her retirement, she moved to Martha’s Vineyard. She became an assistant teacher to the special needs department at Oak Bluffs School. Caring for a single special needs student from kindergarten through the eighth grade, Mark became “one of hers.” She retired from Oak Bluffs School in 2009.
She served in many civic and social organizations including Cincinnati chapter of Links Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Girlfriends, charter member of Sophisticates and Martha’s Vineyard NAACP. Her household was filled with the love of the arts. This exposure allowed for her children to communicate across cultures in a universal language and understand each other in different ways. Philosophy became a passion in her later life often teaching from Camus, Kafka and Dostoyevsky. Like them, she morphed into becoming a constant thinker.
Gloria was preceded in death by her mother Ruth Watson, father, Theodore Johnson, stepfather Leone DeLorme, husband Dr. Alvin Darden and daughter Lisa Darden Cash. She will be lovingly remember by her children: Janice (Leo), Alvin III (Truddie), Michael (Karen) and Lori. Grandchildren: Oman (Naimah), Kairi (Stephanie), Sakina (Drew), Cortni (Devon), Wesley (Shannon), Kofi (Karen), Asil (Amy), Jade (Leanne) Kelsey, Alvin IV “Kip”, Greer and Drew.
Great grandchildren: Suriyah, Uchenna, Jackson, Amir, Ava, Adam, Kyla, Laia, Meia, Harper-Lisa, Jozy, Tyson and Cameron.
She leaves behind a host of nieces and nephews, Charles S. Johnson (Saundra), Dr. Winifred Johnson, The Jackie Williams family and many others active in her life. She will be dearly missed by her “besties,” Marion, Gerry, Yvonne, Rosie (passed), and Harvenna.
Special thanks are given to all caregivers, Sue Burgoyne (Massachusetts), June, Peaches, Geova
at Brookdale Vinnings (Atlanta) and the staff at AG Rhodes rehabilitation center (Atlanta). She loved all of you. Her smile, hugs, laughter and the use of “La De Da’ will forever be in the hearts of her children and grandchildren to carry on.
Gloria will be interned with her husband in Cincinnati, Ohio, Saturday Feb. 24, at a small graveside service. A celebration of her beautiful life will continue at The Cincinnati Art Museum at 3 pm in the Castellini Foundation Room, 953 Eden Park Drive 513-721-2787.