Meryl Lee Darsey left us to begin a new journey on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. The longtime Three Rivers resident was 91 years of age.
A gathering of friends and family will be held Saturday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m., in Harrison Hall at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers.
Meryl was born July 28, 1925, to Cecil and Lois Caswell Darsey in South Gate, Calif. Pearl, his sister, greeted him with a warmth that lasted over a lifetime.
Meryl joined the Army Air Corps and was trained as an airplane navigator. Daughter Karen arrived in 1946 to Meryl and Betty (Box) Darsey.
After discharge from the military, Meryl attended the Fred Archer School of Photography in Los Angeles. Winning first prize in Carbro printing gave him a one-man show in photography upon graduation.
Fred Archer liked his work and introduced him to Nickolas Muray, who Meryl assisted as needed taking Hollywood movie shots. Meryl smiled when he mentioned June Allyson’s shoot.
Muray, who established conventions in color photography, gave him a job in his Carbro printing lab in New York City (1949-1951). Valentino Sarra hired Meryl in 1951 to do advertising photo shoots until 1954.
New York City was exciting, but home was California where his daughter, Karen, was living with her grandparents. Back in Los Angeles, Meryl connected with Siegfried Gutterman and became Siegfried-Darsey Studio, continuing advertising photography. Sarra sent jobs as well, asking Meryl to represent him on assignments.
Tiring of advertising, Meryl moved to Three Rivers in 1958 where his parents had recently purchased a ranch on which his family created Trailer Isle (now Sequoia RV Ranch). Sister Pearl and husband Ray Clayton (Phillip, Julie, Keith, Jeannette) were the family faces in that lovely isle.
Three Rivers brought contentment. Meryl helped build three houses and opened the Darsey Studio so he could continue photography. Many a valley bride appreciated his artistic touch at their wedding.
Meryl met and married Judith Anderson in Three Rivers. They greeted son Darren in 1969. Judy and Meryl took separate paths after a year of operating a hotel on Truk in the South Pacific.
Meryl met Emmi Nietlispach through mutual friends visiting from Los Angeles, and they married in 1974. Theirs was an enduring love. Together they raised Darren and worked and traveled together.
Meryl believed life unlived is hell. He counted among his accomplishments ballooning over the Alps and his photos appearing in National Geographic magazine.
Often seen in the skies over Three Rivers in his self-built ultralight, his flight over the Sierra to Lone Pine and back generated a photo tale as well. Many locals remember his “Lake Bottom” series of photos.
In latter years, he enjoyed classes in computer-aided photograph. He enjoyed introspection and contemplative conversations with friends and those he met in his travels.
Meryl continued to walk the community with his camera and walking stick, waving at passersby, picking up trash, helping tourists, and visiting shops along the highway. He sends a smile and a wave to us all.
In addition to his parents, Meryl was preceded in death by his sister, Pearl Boshion, of Idaho Falls, Idaho; his first wife, Betty; nephews Phillip and Keith Clayton, John Keith, and Richard Hoff; and great-nephew Eric Clayton.
He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Emmi Darsey, of Three Rivers; daughter Karen Jones and husband Donny of Cheyenne, Wyo.; son Darren Darsey of Portland, Ore.; granddaughter Kari Wendell and husband Jess of Cheyenne, Wyo.; grandson Aaron Mattley of Austin, Texas; nieces Julie Keith of Akron, Penn., and Jeannette Hoff of Idaho Falls; and great-nieces and great-nephews from coast to coast.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Aging in Community-Three Rivers, P.O. Box 33, Three Rivers, CA 93271 (www.agingincommunity3r.org).