Linda Joyce Darden, 65, of Chattanooga, passed away on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in a local hospital.
She was the youngest of two children born to Horace and Emma Allen Darden of West Point, Georgia on September 21, 1953. She attended and joined a church founded by her great-grandmother, Harriet Johnson Boyd and great-uncle, Peter Smith, where services were first held in the early twentieth century in a tent near the Chattanooga Creek. The congregation grew to what became St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church on West 29th Street, now located in Piney Woods.
Linda attended school in Huntington, West Virginia and Chattanooga Avenue Elementary Schools. At Howard Junior High, Linda was co-captain of the Cheerleaders and became captain of the Varsity High School Cheerleading Squad. She was a member of VOE, Math and Science Clubs, Honor Society and others. Her greatest honor was being chosen by students and faculty as Miss Howard High of 1971. She graduated third in her class of 386 students.
Linda earned her B.S. degree, Master’s in Business Education and Master’s +45 hours Specialist degree in School Administration. All of her degrees were from UTC. At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Linda was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Black Student Association, Littleton Mason School Choir, and Kappa Delta Phi an honorary educational society at UTC. She worked in the ROTC program and was campus sweetheart for both Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi Fraternities. Her professional career began as School Registrar for Riverside High School at age 20, while working part-time as an instructor for Chattanooga Adult High School. As a member of Chattanooga City Schools and Hamilton County Schools, Linda worked as a teacher at Hixson, City, and Brainerd High Schools. Linda worked with and achieved honors as a Homebound Educator for expecting girls, Business Education Department Chair, Site Coordinator for Lights On Program, VOE Officer, Saturday Writing Academy, School Community Liaison, Literary Coach, Career Ladder 3 Teacher, HCEA, TEA, and NEA Representative, and served as a career Ladder Evaluator for Educational Excellence for the State of Tennessee. Linda was voted outstanding graduate student in 2000 at UTC by her professors and graduate student colleagues. That same year, she became a leadership fellow sponsored by the Public Education Foundation.
A few years later, she received the Vulcan Educator of the Year Award, and won the Laurel Brock Scholar Award. She was selected five times by the student body of Brainerd High School as Teacher of The Year. At Brainerd High, Linda was Department Chair, HCDE Diversity Trainer and Trainer for True Colors. Linda became Vice Principal at J. P. Franklin Middle School. While there, she received an award as Most Inspiring Educator. Linda was promoted to become principal of Dalewood Middle School. While serving as principal, she received “Most Supportive Principal Award, HCDE Best of the Best Educators Award, HCDE Title I Program Award, Principal of The Year for Hamilton County Schools and recognized as Highly Qualified Principals Award from Tennessee Education Association. Linda received recognition also for having mentored and trained eight educators who became school leaders and principals. Upon her death, she was currently serving as Administrator and Staff Observer for HCDE School Improvement at Ivy Academy.
Linda served many roles in her life—a Christian, a daughter, sister, friend, and educator. Linda was remarkable in each one. Her favorite adage comes from Proverbs 23:12..”Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
Survivors to cherish her memories are her loving and caring sister, Annie Darden; first and second cousins, Jesse and Joan Houston, Johnnie Lee Allen, Kathundra Smith, Joan Fobbs, Richard Ballard, Kayta Scott, Herbert Wells, Patricia Winston, Teresa Reese, Kim Winston, Tracy Lynch, Jesse Houston, Jr., and Ida MaNear. Linda also leaves her life-long friends, Eloise Cooke, Janice Cox, Bettye Davenport, Senta Dixon, Sharlene Hargrove, Delores Lyons, Anne McGinnis, Carolyn Patterson, Freda Smith, and Carol Thomas.
Visitation is Friday, March 15, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Taylor Funeral Home. Funeral services will be Saturday, March 16, at noon in the chapel with Minister George Woodruff, Jr. as the eulogist. Burial will be in Forest Hills Cemetery.