Darlene L. Ashton

Published 8:58 am Friday, March 31, 2023

Visitation services for Darlene Louise Ashton, 87, Lawton, will be held on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, at Whinery-Huddleston Funeral Home, Lawton, OK, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with a Celebration of Life and final interment to be held at a later date in Minnesota.

Darlene L. Ashton

Our precious mama, Darlene Ashton, earned her angel wings on Sunday, March 26, 2023, in Oklahoma City, following a very sudden and unexpected illness.

Darlene Louise Ashton was born on July 31, 1935 in Austin, MN to Martin and Marie Andersen. Darlene was the youngest of three daughters and the girls had quite the adventures in those early years. Times weren’t always easy, but the memories they made remained with them for a lifetime.

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Her journey as a mother, grandmother, great and great great grandmother began with the birth of her first child in 1952. Seven children in total would be born to her over the next 13 years, and she loved being a devoted mother and grandmother, who was always there or just a phone call away.

She loved time with her family and making special events in her family extra special by preparing any number of her special dishes; most notably were her: Goulash, Spanish rice, potato salad and homemade garlic popcorn. Later requests from family or friends for her special “recipes” always got a chuckle from her, as of course, there were no “recipes”!! She created her signature dishes from her heart and only she knew when each one was just right. As the saying goes “Often imitated, never duplicated”.

Darlene worked outside the home all of her adult life, culminating with 28 years working for the Land O’ Lakes/Schweigert/Hudson companies, retiring in 1995 at the age of 60. Darlene and her late husband, Kenneth Ashton, were long time members of the Albert Lea Eagles club.

Retirement would bring about a world of changes for her and is where the next chapter of her life truly began. In May 1995, she took a huge leap of faith and left the only state she’d ever called home, to join her daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Paul Zerbe at their final military duty station, Lawton-Fort Sill, OK. No one could have imagined the adventures that lie ahead for the trio over the next 28 years.

The first great adventure Darlene undertook was to learn to enjoy their favorite sport of bowling. She became a league bowler for the first time in her life at 61, and preceded to bowl several leagues over the years, as well as local, state and even national level tournaments. She remained an active league bowler right up to her passing, and she was known far and wide in their bowling circles simply as “mom, mommy or mama”, which filled her heart with so much joy!!”

“Mom’s” greatest bowling achievements came during her 79th and 80th birthdays, as she would win her age division at the 2014 Oklahoma Seniors tournament, which qualified her to represent the State of Oklahoma Seniors at the National Seniors Championship the follow summer in Green Bay, WI, just one week after her 80th birthday. As an added bonus, her son in-law Paul Zerbe had also qualified to represent Oklahoma in his age bracket for the men; so in a unique reversal of roles, Kathy got to cheer on the two people who meant the very world to her.

Besides the “fun, travel and adventure” that their bowling life brought, Darlene developed a deep love of nature, amplified no doubt in thanks to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge so nearby. “Buffies” (bison) became her favorites as everyone knows, but she loved everything about the wildlife refuge and we all will cherish the memories made there with her.

Darlene also was the “Louise” to Kathy’s “Thelma”, traveling around this beautiful country multiple times over the years, and Kathy always shared their adventures on Facebook for others to enjoy. We know we were so very blessed that she was able to enjoy her travels right up until the end.

She is survived by her six remaining children and their loving families: Linda Boroff, David (Linda) Carpenter, and Tammy (Ben) Dolsen, all of southern MN; Cindy Anderson (MN); Pamela (Keith) Pyatt, NC and Kathy (Paul) Zerbe of Lawton; 20 grandchildren, 40 great grandchildren, and 12 great, great grandchildren; her beloved sister Janice Wilson and her niece Claudia Senter both of Georgia; two grand fur babies (Noodles and Calyx) of her home, and countless beloved friends and honorary “kids” around the world.

Darlene was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Kenneth Ashton, her precious son George Ashton, 2 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren, her sister and brother in-law Mary (Gene) LeVasseur, brother in-law Claude “Willy” Wilson, and numerous other family members and friends.