John C. Darling died May 6th at Terraces of Jacksonville Nursing Facility in Jacksonville, Florida. The world enjoyed Jon’s life for 72 years before he stepped from it. He then ended the long struggle from Parkinson’s disease.
Most of what can be discovered of Jon’s life is recorded in his art work. As a young man he attended Palm Beach Jr. College in Lake Worth, Florida. There he met lifelong friends of the Sherwood Forest Studio Group. Together they collaborated their art into public pranks. One being a transformation of an old Buick into a counterfeit Rolls Royce complete with hood ornament and chauffeur. Jon became involved with Ray Jonson’s “New York Correspondence School of Art” — the the “Happenings” movement. The influence resulted in Jon handing in a collage instead of the required research paper for his Philosophy class. (It received the highest grade.)
Jon continued his education at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The construction of the Garbage paintings series, kinetic sculptures, caused considerable interest and led to a showing at the Annual Iowa Artist Exhibition in Des Moines Art Center and another exhibition in Waterloo, Iowa.
In 1967 at Drake University Jon met and married Marsha A. Markey from Boon, Iowa. Schanon Danielle Darling was born soon after.
They moved to Stockport, Iowa where Jon worked supervising art for four schools of the Van Buren Community School System.
After one year Jon and his family moved to Florida. By 1971 a second daughter, Heather Dale Darling, was born. Together the family shared a wooden acreage in Lake City, Florida. He taught art in the nearby school systems for several years. Jon and Marsha eventually separated.
Jon’s artwork drew the interest of William Hoskins, Professor of Music and director of the Jacksonville University Electronic Music Studio and S. Barre Barrett, chairperson of the Art Department at Jacksonville University. Together they collaborated to form a Lumasonic trio. This was a light sculpture synchronized with electronic music shown at assemblies and planetariums. The trio collaborated with pioneer Robert Moog, the inventor of the Moog synthesizer. The notoriety of the group put Jon’s name into the annual publication of Outstanding Young Men of America.
In 1989 Jon became president of the Lake Worth Art League of Florida. Also he was actively engaged with the Palm Beach Society of American Inventors and National RR Historical Society of Palm Beach. He continued art chows at the Unitarian Churches of Clearwater, Jacksonville, and North Palm Beach Florida along with Dale McClug’s Artworks Gallery.
The Unitarian Universalist connected Jon with friends that assisted him in securing care providing positions. He assisted one member struggling with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years. Another close friend had cancer. He chauffeured, provided care and assistance, and they in turn gave Jon shelter and a small wage. Following their death he found employment at “Jane Loves Cheap Furniture Store.” He assisted with painting artistic scenes on furniture, helping in the store and painting murals in local restaurants. Hurricane weather caused some major destruction in the area, so Jon moved to Jacksonville.
At the Jacksonville Unitarian Church Jon reestablished friendship with Virginia Smith. Later they became long time partners for approximately 15 years. Virginia was a loyal confidant and together they shared their enthusiasm for art and involvement in the Unitarian Church. Virginia cared for Jon as he became more and more disabled from Parkinson’s disease. She maintained his care long into her own health difficulties until she could no longer sustain herself and his complicated care.
Jon leaves behind his partner Virginia Smith, his daughters Schanon and Heather, grandchildren Hannah, Katie, Brandon, and Peyton, and sisters Noryce Burgey and Kathleen Darling.