Rev. Frances Marr Darling remembered for her ministry, love of family and community

Women's rights advocate, Leader columnist and grandmother died March 30 at age 61.

Fran Darling

Rev. Frances Marr Darling — a local United Church minister, women’s rights advocate, columnist, and mother — died quietly Saturday. She was 61.

Husband Pete Leckie noted his wife’s tenacity and community commitment in the face of illness.

“Fran finished her Easter sermon at Chemainus United” the surgeon said of his musical spouse of 37 years. “Late in life, she came to the ministry and helped lots of people.”

“Once she got into the ministry, she really found her niche. Fran brought lots of joy and comfort to those who needed it,”he said. “Fran loved the Cowichan Valley, and the people here — she found her heart and soul here.

After an internship at Grace United in Dartmouth, N.S., Darling graduated with an honours Masters of Divinity. She was ordained as a United Church minister in 2008, and began her ministry at Cedar United Church, and Chemainus United Church.

Her bachelor of arts and music from McGill University and a long history of community involvement sparked Darling’s stint as an columnist with the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, something she retired from when she decided to pursue her ministry.

The Vancouver native, and grandmother of three, sang with the Concenti Singers and supported Cowichan’s hefty arts scene. Volunteering twinned work with the Chemainus Theatre, and at Atchison Palmer Accountants.

“Fran worked hard and trained her (soprano-alto) voice, and was beautiful when singing and playing piano.”

Her friends included George Seymour, former diplomat and North Cowichan councillor.

“I was deeply impressed by Fran’s knowledge and integrity. She had remarkable insight into a wide range of subjects, including at the international level.

“She’ll be remembered for her strong sense of humanity and justice — and her interest in history as a measure of lessons that should be learned.”

Communion is from 1 to 2 p.m. at Duncan’s New Life Baptist Church on April 13, immediately followed by a celebration of life.

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