Floral 24

Josephine (Coppola) Darken

September 8, 1933 ~ February 18, 2024 (age 90) 90 Years Old

Josephine Darken Obituary

     Josephine Darken passed away on Sunday, February 18, 2024, in the Care Center at the Scandia Village Retirement Home in Sister Bay, Wisconsin. She was 90.

     Jo was born in Chicago to Italian immigrants Niccolo and Maria Coppola on September 8, 1933, the youngest of four children. Jo’s mother recalled feeling shame because she was pregnant during the Great Depression when the mothers in her neighborhood did not have enough food for the children they already had.

     As a child Jo was skinny. An elementary school teacher once said to her, “Don’t they feed you at home?” Embarrassed, Jo went home and asked her mother to make her a plate of eggs. Jo’s two older brothers, Vince, and Tony, both served honorably in the U.S. Army during World War II and were therefore away from home during a portion of her childhood.

     Jo attended Jones Commercial High School in Chicago, where she learned stenography. After graduating she found employment as a legal secretary at Illinois Tool Works Corporation (ITW), where she worked for 10 years.

     Although the family was Roman Catholic, Jo’s mother accepted an offer for Bible studies from a Swedish woman representing the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and by this means Jo became an active member of the Italian Seventh-day Adventist Church on Chicago’s near west side.

     In the mid-1950s the state used eminent domain to seize the family’s home near Garfield Park to make way for construction of the Eisenhower Expressway, so the family moved to a house on West Deming Place.

     At Illinois Tool Works Jo met lab technician Cliff Darken, a son of Danish immigrants and a graduate of Chicago’s Steinmetz High School. The two married on August 4, 1963. After two years in an apartment in Chicago, Jo and Cliff bought a bungalow in the western suburb of Hillside. There they raised their three sons: Christian, born 1964; Rudolph, 1966; and Robert, 1973.

     Jo was a homemaker while her children were young and attended area public schools. After Jo’s father Niccolo died, her mother Maria came to live with the family in Hillside for several years before she too passed. Once youngest son Bobby reached school age, Jo worked as a sales clerk at a local department store, Goldblatt’s, and later worked as a secretary for an accountant.

     After Cliff took early retirement from ITW in 1985, Jo and he spent a year living in East Haven, Connecticut, before moving on to Ephraim, Wisconsin, in 1986, where they lived in a cottage on a quiet back road. Jo enjoyed walking and knitting. She and Cliff took several memorable road trips across the country to reconnect with old friends and visit sons Chris and Rudy in California and Bobby in Connecticut. On several occasions they hosted Danish visitors–family of Cliff’s–and drove with them on sightseeing tours across the United States.

     Starting in 2010, Jo suffered an ailment that gradually eroded her ability to walk. She and Cliff sold the house in Ephraim and moved to an apartment in the graduated living facilities at Scandia Village. There they continued to lead active lives, socializing with fellow residents and enjoying art classes. Jo was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014 and underwent chemotherapy; though she suffered some lasting damage, she was a cancer survivor for 10 years.

     Despite her declining health, Jo enjoyed meaningful visits with her family as late as the summer of 2023. She is survived by her sons Chris, Rudy, and Bob, as well as eight grandchildren.

     Casperson Funeral Home of Sister Bay is assisting the Darken family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Jo may be shared with her family through her tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com.



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