Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Darlene R. Angel, aka “Momma Angel”, went to be with the Lord on Monday, October 30, 2023, at the age of 57 after a long battle with breast cancer. She loved the Lord and was a caring wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend who had a great sense of humor and never knew a stranger.
Darlene is survived by her husband Tom; five kids Justin Gingerich, Melanie (Caine) Espinoza, Allison Angel, Derek Angel, and Christine Angel; brother John (Gloria) Kucela; sister-in-law Lynn (George Perry) Kucela; and grandkids Lincoln and Felix Espinoza.
Darlene was preceded in death by her parents; sister Sharon Kucela; brothers Dick and Steve Kucela; two children prior to birth; and a great nephew Todd Kucela.
Darlene was born to Richard and Frieda Kucela on March 5, 1966, in South Bend, and later graduated from Elkhart Central High School in 1984. She started working in junior high school as a newspaper carrier for the Elkhart Truth, followed by working at the Concord Mall information desk. During her time at the mall, she jokingly said that she had the best job because she “told people where to go” every day. Later on, Darlene worked in accounts payable and receivable at Glaval and left after the birth of her first child. She returned to the workforce while expecting her second child at JCPenney’s in the fine jewelry department and became the number two in sales in the district. She retired from the jewelry department when she was expecting her third child and became a stay-at-home mother for many years, during which she volunteered as a Girl Scout Leader for several years. After the birth of her fifth child, Darlene became an avid lap swimmer and decided to become a certified lifeguard after a local boy, 10-year-old Jamal Turpin, drowned at Ideal Beach in Elkhart. She wanted to become another set of eyes to prevent another drowning from happening. This passion to help others led her to her most recent job as a lifeguard and water-safety instructor at Concord High School for six years, loving the time she got to spend with the kids. Eventually, she left her guard chair to continue her studies in the medical field in 2020 at Indiana University South Bend. She was studying to become a nurse but always left her degree open in case another field “lit her fire”, something she would always say with a smile and twinkle in her eyes.
Darlene married Tom Angel on September 10, 1994, in Elkhart. They met through mutual friends but started dating after she held a Memorial Day party at her home. Darlene had many hobbies which included gardening, bike riding, reading, swimming, and crafts. Throughout the years, she could always be seen outside working in the yard or as she would put it, “hazing the neighbors”. One of the funniest gardening antics happened when Darlene was weeding at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in front of the Home and Family Arts building. She was wearing her modest one-piece swimsuit, a pair of shorts, a big sunhat, and her gardening apron. Come to find out later on, the home extension office kept receiving calls about “some woman” who was weeding in front of the building naked. Evidently, her gardening apron completely concealed the rest of her clothing. Darlene took this in stride and laughed about it until she started to cry. Additionally, Darlene was adamant about spaying and neutering cats, actively helping to reduce feline overpopulation. She volunteered with Catsnip, a local trap-neuter-return (TNR) group that traps stray and feral kitties in Elkhart County. Her family never flinched when they would “find” a new kitty in the bathroom that Darlene would either be waiting to have scanned or was fostering. She also worked for another rescue called Here Kitty Kitty Rescue that finds homes for adoptable kitties, who had assisted her in finding homes for some of her own adoptable felines in the past. Every year, Darlene enjoyed doing what she would call “working with the books” for Here Kitty Kitty’s biannual ginormous barn sale to help fund the rescue, something she considered a joy to do. Truth be told, everyone ran from the books like a scared little girl, but Darlene’s love for reading drew her in.
Visitation for Darlene will be held on Friday, November 10, 2023, at Billings Funeral Home from 3 to 5 PM and 6 to 8 PM. On Saturday, November 11, 2023, a funeral service will be held at Nappanee Missionary Church at noon with one hour of visitation prior. Pastor Jason will be officiating. Burial and graveside services will immediately follow at Prairie Street Cemetery, where Darlene’s earthly body will be laid to rest beside her mother and sister. All friends and loved ones are encouraged to join the family for a meal on Saturday from 3 to 6 pm, in downtown Elkhart, with details to follow.
The family kindly requests no flowers. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to Catsnip, PO Box 1061, Goshen, IN 46527 (catsnipetc.org), or Here Kitty Kitty Rescue, 25138 CR 24, Elkhart, IN 46517 (herekittykittyrescue.com).