Lila Leona Ridings Darnell was born just outside of Greenville, IL, on January 24, 1944, and passed away in Orlando, FL, on Dec. 2, 2015.
Raised as the youngest of eight children in the rolling wooded hills of the rural Terrapin Ridge area, Lila grew up just down the hill from Mt. Nebo Primitive Baptist Church which she, her family and all the families of the other area homesteaders attended. As older parents, her strict father and mother were a little softer on their baby girl than they’d been with her older siblings. Her father Urban Lee was a millwright in the steel mills of Granite City who loved reading and discussing the Bible, and he was a gifted writer. Her mother Beatrice cooked, sewed and quilted a wonderful if simple life for her family on Terrapin Ridge. “Lila Lee” was married in 1961, before graduating from high school in 1962. The following year, her son Scott Alan became the pride and joy of his parents and their large, loving family.
The young Darnells traveled much in pursuit of work, settling briefly in Iowa and Florida in-between return moves to Greenville. Roger Kent joined the troop in 1966. Having received the writing gift from her father, Lila learned to tap the well often as a means for dealing with life’s joys, challenges and hardships. In 1974, she became a single-mother, raising two very active boys while navigating a career as an administrator and finding her way to independence.
As her boys grew into men, her blood, sweat and tears were all set down in volumes of verses, many of which were destroyed and buried along with the more difficult memories. What remained was a strong mother and an independent woman, who enjoyed a special solace and strength every day from her sons, and eventually her daughter-in-law Beth, her beloved grandchildren (Amelia May Darnell, ’01, and Riley Kent Darnell, ’03), her cats, and legions of family members and extended friends whose birthdays and special occasions were always remembered and honored with timely Hallmark keepsakes, emails, texts and/or Facebook postings.
An accomplished construction, engineering and hospitality industry administrator who retired from Parsons Brinckerhoff in 2010 after 19 years, Lila used writing as a therapy throughout her life’s journey. In 2003, she became the first mother to illuminate life during her son Scott’s spinal cord injury and recovery. Her autobiographical book “The Ghost Behind the Wheelchair” was endorsed by a world authority on spinal injury rehab, who referred to it as being “like a support group in a package,” and “must reading” for families of the spinal injured and the health pros that work with them. That writing experience ultimately helped mother and son adapt well to a difficult path, and the book continues helping others in similar circumstances do the same.
Lila is survived by her sister Galda Burcham of Gallatin, TN, her brothers Bud and James Ridings of Greenville, IL, her sons Scott Darnell of Greenville, IL, her son and daughter-in-law Roger and Beth Darnell of Asheville, NC, and her grandchildren Amelia and Riley, also of Asheville, NC.
Lila’s family will receive friends from 4-8 pm on Saturday, Dec. 19, at Young’s Funeral Home in Greenville. A funeral and short graveside service will be held at Mt. Nebo Primitive Baptist Church at 1:30 pm on Sunday, Dec. 20.
Her burial will be alongside her loving parents and her “baby brother” Roy Ridings in Mt. Nebo’s cemetery. In lieu of flowers, Lila’s family will greatly appreciate donations to your local Humane Society.
Young Funeral Home
118 E College Ave
Greenville, IL 62246