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Donald F. Darnell, age 74 of Morley, passed away unexpectedly while on his farm Friday, November 29, 2019.  He was born July 25, 1945, in Barryton and was the son of Cecil and Lillian (Hart) Darnell.  Don graduated from Barryton High School in 1963. He attended Ferris State College, earning a degree in criminal justice before entering the Michigan State Police Academy.  Don graduated with academic honors in 1968 and accepted his first assignment at the State Police Post in Bridgeport. Transfers brought him to State Police Posts in Rockford (1970) and Lakeview (1974). After a short-term assignment at the Reed City Post, Don returned to Lakeview where Don was chosen Michigan Police Officer of the Year by the VFW.  He retired from Lakeview as a sergeant in June of 1995. Don worked for Newaygo Public Schools from 1996 to 2002 as the GED test administrator. 

Don lived on his farm, near Morley, for over 45 years and like most men in the Darnell family, loved horses. Don’s devotion to the care and training of his horses is legendary.  His sage advice and willingness to help and guide others will be greatly missed. As a longtime member of the Michigan Horsepulling Boat Association, he not only was mentor to many but he spent many years as President serving with dedication to bring his love of horse pulling to many areas in Michigan. His life-time hobby was Draft Horsepulling which became full-time in retirement.  Don's love for his horses was only surpassed by the love for his family - especially his grandchildren.  

Don was loved and respected by his friends and associates, the Horsepulling community, and his beloved family, whose members include, his wife of 17 years, Mary Kay; children, Dr. Bart (Dina) Darnell of East Tawas, Tobin Darnell of Milan, Charlie (Fiancée Katie Smith) Darnell of Milan, Dr. Amanda (Mark) Holtz of Dexter; four grandchildren; Donovan and Miles Darnell and Sally and Henry Holtz; step-daughter, Vicki (Mark) Courts of Harris, MN; two sisters, Audrey Ritt of Dexter, Carol (Don) Ruppert of Marion; several nieces and nephews.   

Don was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife, Sally, in 2001, a brother, Cecil Darnell and brother-in-law, Al Ritt.

Funeral services will take place 12:00 p.m. (Noon) Wednesday, December 4th at the Daggett-Gilbert Funeral Home in Big Rapids with Pastor Frank Taylor officiating.  The family will greet friends on Tuesday at the funeral home from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Don’s name may be made to his family, the Michigan Horsepulling Boat Association or the charity of the donors’ choice.

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