William Joseph Darley, 89, of River Forest and Williams Bay, Wisconsin, died at home on April 17, 2018 surrounded by his family. His accomplishments throughout his life are a testament to his strong work ethic, adventurous spirit, Catholic faith, and devotion to his family and W.S. Darley & Company. He grew up in the house his father built in River Forest and was raised by his mother after his father died when he was 7.
He kissed his first wife, Jeanne Morrissy, in kindergarten at St. Luke and took her to prom in high school. He was captain of the varsity swim team for three years at Fenwick High School, swam as an All-American in college, and was in Phi-Delta Theta fraternity while earning a degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University.
Although he would say he never worked a day in his life, he grew the W.S. Darley & Co. family business into an international business in firefighting equipment and manufacturing, led by the third and fourth generation the family today. He traveled to 135 countries, was a fire industry leader, and served on boards such as Liberty Mutual, Dominican University, and the Catholic Charities’ Brighter Futures and LOSS programs. He was a member of the Adventurers Club of Chicago and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, among others. He was devoted for over 32 years to his second wife, Fran, whom he first saw from the pulpit of St. Luke Church.
Of all his successes, he is best known not for what he did but who he was — a friend to all, kind, humble, accepting, funny, and true. He loved the outdoors, fishing, golfing, and hunting. His best days were spent at his family home of 90 years in Lake Geneva.
Bill Darley was the husband of Frances Butler Darley and the late Jeanne Morrissy Darley; the father of Stephen (Darlene), Peter (Karen), Thomas (Pamela), James (Christina), Paul (Heidi) Darley, Anne (Randy) Freedman and the late William C., and Mary Krina (Michael) Mattio; the grandfather of Matthew, William and Kevin Darley, Gabriel, Geneva, Nicole and Jasmine Darley, Audrey (fiancé Stephen Welch), Margaret (fiancé Christopher Teets) and Sophie Darley, and James and Emmet Freedman; the brother of Patricia (the late Dr. Philip) Long and Reginald C. (the late Francella) Darley and the late Julia (the late Edward) LeFevour; the uncle of Michelle (the late Ted) FitzHenry, and many other nieces and nephews. He is also survived by Fran’s children: Laura Brady, Greg Trankina, Diane Golden, Frank Trankina and Mary Bea (James) Farmer; and he was the special grandfather of Robert Mackey and Mabel (Tyler) Huddleston, Ryan (Pina) Puccinelli, Eileen (Travis) Ayotte, William and Maggie Golden and Matthew and Daniel Farmer.
Visitation was held on April 22 at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home. Family and friends met at St. Luke Church on April 23 and private interment was at Mt. Carmel Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Catholic Charities (CatholicCharities.net/donate).