Darral Dean

Obituary of Darral Dean

Darral D. Dean passed away on September 5, 2022, at the age of 83 at his home in Marana, AZ, where he lived since 2005. Darral was born to Lloyd Dean and Sylvia (Clark) Dean in 1939 in Ingleside, Texas. Suffering from extreme asthma as a child, his parents moved the family to Washington State for a more temperate climate for several years until his asthma subsided but they eventually returned to their hometown of Ingleside.

Darral used football and ROTC scholarships to put himself through college at Texas A&M. He was the last Texas A&M class recruited to play football by legendary coach Bear Bryant before his move to Alabama. Darral would talk about how the assistant coaches left behind were “the meanest sons of b’s” he ever met. Players would have to take salt tablets before practice to help retain water as the scorching Texas heat was brutal. You were deemed weak in those days if you had to drink water during training. While he still loved to watch college football he said it was the best day of his life when he graduated as he knew he would never have to play football again.

In August 1962 Darral entered the Airforce. He served active duty in Vietnam as Captain and B52 bomber pilot with the 441st Bomber Squadron SAC. He was stationed at various times in California, Montana, Washington and Guam. Darral left the military in June 1969 and moved to Spokane, WA. He married the mother of his two daughters in 1964 while stationed there at Fairchild AFB. Following his military career Darral became a commercial airline pilot with TWA so the family moved to Kansas City and California for short periods. However, after being laid off from TWA they returned to Spokane where Darral managed a men’s clothing store for a few years.

Following his divorce from his children’s mother Darral was recalled by TWA and returned to Kansas City to fly. He remarried again, but another economic downturn and layoff from TWA sent him to work for the FAA as an air traffic controller. He also purchased and operated the Tomahawk Laundromat & Drycleaner in Shawnee, KS to supplement his income during those years. His two girls worked there while in high school and remember (on top of hot days behind a steam press!) his amazing work ethic and having the cleanest laundromat in town. Darral divorced again and returned to flying with Piedmont Airlines which was later purchased by U.S. Airways. He moved from Kansas City to Punta Gorda, FL at that time, remarrying for the final time.

He and his wife Becky loved to boat and fish and he also liked to hunt. Darral retired from U.S. Airways in 1999 which allowed him more time boat, fish, hunt, fly privately, and maintain his home. He would never pay someone to do something he could do himself. Needless to say, he kept very busy in retirement. Darral and Becky relocated to Marana, AZ in 2005 after weathering hurricane Charley. Both loved to hike in the hillsides and golf and spent several years enjoying their new home in Arizona along with their three dogs. Becky was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Darral lovingly cared for her in their home for many years before her passing in 2018. He loved to manage his own investing and dabble in the stock market and continued to maintain his own home until the very end. His daughters always think of him as the ultimate guy’s guy, making friends with everyone he met (affectionately dubbed “Big D” by some), and an avid outdoorsman who always had a good story to tell. He will be dearly missed.

Darral was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Rebecca (Waring) Dean, his sister Karen (Dean) Smith, and his three miniature poodles Bogie, Bitsy and Chobie (boy did he love those dogs!) Darral is survived by his brother Kenny Dean of Texas, by his daughter Lisa Wigen and grandchildren Austin and Brianna Wigen, and two great grandchildren, Pepper and Briggs Wigen, of Spokane, WA, and by his daughter Shelly Dean-Shaw, her husband Robert Shaw Jr. and his granddaughter Sophie Shaw of Tequesta, FL.

In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to Darral’s favorite charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

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