Darlene Ann Hand, 82, of Helena/Anaconda passed away Saturday, June 18, 2011 at her Anaconda residence. Darlene’s four children were at her bedside when she died following a courageous battle with cancer.
Darlene was born to Ted and Ann Riemann in Hardin, Montana on November 16, 1928. The second oldest of 6 children (Arden, Darlene, Teddy, Dorman, Donna, and Curt), Darlene’s early years were spent on a farm where she shared chores with siblings and developed the sense of responsibility and strong work ethic that so characterized her adult life.
At age 13 she moved with her family to Columbus, MT and graduated from Columbus High School in 1947. Later that year she moved to Seattle, WA to attend beauty school and learn the trade she had dreamed about since childhood. On graduating from beauty school in 1948, Darlene moved to Helena, MT and began a career as a beauty operator that would span more than 60 years.
In 1950 she married James A. Hand who was recalled to active duty in the Navy a week later. On his return from service, Darlene and Jim purchased the house on Helena’s upper west side that became (with several expansions) the family home in which they would raise their four children (Robyn, Patty, Jim, and David).
One of the expansions included build-out of Darlene’s Beauty Shop, where many a distinguished lady returned week after week for more than 60 years because they left her shop even prettier than when they walked in. In the end, Darlene’s customers were not so much clientele as they were dear friends and extended family.
Darlene worked out of her home-based beauty shop in Helena until the age of 81 when, at the urging of her children, she stopped working and finally began to enjoy some well-deserved rest. She moved to Anaconda in September 2010 to discover the joys of retired life. As was her way, she quickly met and befriended many fine people in the communities of Anaconda, Deer Lodge, and Philipsburg.
It would be easy to remember Darlene most for her kind and caring nature, as those traits were always evident to her friends, family, and her beloved animals. For those close to her, especially her children, she will also be remembered for the tenacity and toughness that belied her gentle demeanor. In the face of a grave illness it was not her way to ask “Why me?” but rather to ask “Why not me?” as she confronted the challenge head on with grace, courage, and a sense of humor. She is an inspiration to her children, their families, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Darlene was preceded in death by her husband James, her parents Ted and Ann Riemann, her brothers Teddy, Dorman, and Curt, her sister Donna, and granddaughter Christine.
She is survived by her four children Robyn Lynn (John Toles) of Anaconda, Patty Ann of Helena, James Patrick (Valerie) of Round Rock, Texas, and David Matthew (Becky) of Great Falls/Helena. Darlene also leaves behind 11 Grandchildren and 11 Great Grandchildren.
Darlene’s family would like to thank all the special people in Anaconda and Helena who stepped forward to comfort her and the entire family during this difficult time. Their kindness and compassion will be remembered always. The family would also like to give special thanks to the skilled professionals at Anaconda Pintler Hospice whose compassionate care and quality service were above and beyond expectations and instrumental in helping the family cope.
A wake and memorial service will be held at the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Anaconda on Friday, June 24, 2011. Visitation will begin at 6:00 p.m. with prayers beginning at 7:00 p.m. A requiem mass and memorial service will also be held at St. Peter’s (Episcopal) Cathedral in Helena on Saturday, June 25. The service will begin at 1:00 p.m. with inurnment to follow at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery, Fort Harrison.
Memorials in Darlene’s name are suggested to Anaconda Pintler Hospice, 305 W. Pennsylvania, Ste. 1, Anaconda, MT 59711. Arrangements are under the care of Retz Funeral Home in Helena in cooperation with Riddle Funeral Homes in Anaconda.