Darleen Deanne Hayball Johnson

Date of Death

June 30, 2022

On June 30, the world lost a powerhouse of generosity, intelligence, and positive spirit: Darleen Deanne Hayball Johnson passed away peacefully in her Hanford home surrounded by the love of family and friends.

Darleen was born in Detroit, MI. Her parents, George Duffield (Duffy) Hayball, and Doreen June Hayball (ne Graham), relocated to Santa Barbara, CA, when Darleen was 2 and her sister, June, was 4. Her early years were spent in a small beach-side cottage in Isla Vista adjacent to the campus of the University of California. UCSB would shape the experiences of Darleen’s early life. Her father earned a degree there, her mother worked as a secretary in the geology department, and Darleen was awarded her bachelor’s in sociology there in 1969. Later her son, Adam, would earn a master’s degree at UCSB as well.

When Darleen was 12, she spent the year traveling through Europe and North Africa with her parents and sister in the family’s Volkswagen Bus. This early trip instilled a lifelong love of travel, especially in the company of her family. She lived a global life enriched by the diverse individuals she met around the world. She had a deep love of people, and she made and sustained friends effortlessly. Her longest relationships began in middle school. She remained close to these friends during her years at San Marcos High School, at UCSB, and throughout the milestones of adulthood.

After graduating UCSB, Darleen left Santa Barbara motivated by a tip that teaching positions were available in Hanford, a town she had never heard of. Her 38-year teaching career began at Kit Carson Elementary, but she is best remembered as a teacher at Hanford High School where she enjoyed engaging the minds of teenagers. During her first year in Hanford, she became smitten with a young Navy man “with great legs” who lived next door. A year later she would marry this neighbor, Eldon (Johnny) Johnson, and stay with him happily for the remaining 52 years of her life. Together they had three children: Shannon, married to Brian Dull, Adam, married to Patrick Stump, and Ian, married to Jessica Dean Johnson.

During more than 30 years at Hanford High School, she touched the lives of countless individuals as one of the school’s most beloved teachers. She approached the subjects she taught English, history, sociology, and psychology with a passion for learning that she developed early in life. The love of knowledge was a gift she bestowed to everyone who took classes from her, including her three children. In addition, she nurtured Johnny when he changed careers to become a teacher, and supported Shannon, Adam, and Ian as they pursued their own careers in education.

Darleen was a doer with boundless confidence. Always active and fearless, she advocated for people facing hardship. She provided shelter for those escaping abuse, safe passage for immigrants, and day-to-day necessities for Hanford residents in need of basic care. Some of her greatest joys surrounded the work she did with Johnny as part of the charitable organization they founded Helping Other People Everywhere, or HOPE Inc. Primarily focused on breaking down barriers to education in Kenya, their aid helped build schools, sustain teachers’ salaries, and provide supplies needed for student success. Nicknamed Mama and Baba, Darleen and Johnny fostered lives and friendships in Africa for nearly 30 years.

Darleen had many interests and enjoyed sharing them with others. She was an avid bridge player and belonged to several local clubs. She authored a series of science fiction novels, played the piano, and entertained often. She especially enjoyed being a grandmother to her three grandchildren, Lauren (Lolly), Emmett (Duffy), and Rowan Dull.

The great irony was that while Darleen’s emotional heart was limitless, her physical heart was weakened by congenital defects. Valve-replacement surgery in 2007 added meaningful years to her life but could not sustain her forever. Darleen Johnson was preceded in death by her father, sister, and mother. She is survived in life by her husband, three children, and three grandchildren. A memorial service celebrating her life is planned for later this year.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, the Johnson family requests tax-deductible donations to HOPE in Darleen’s honor. Checks made payable to HOPE Inc. can be sent to 1301 N. Douty St, Hanford, CA, 93230.

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