1950 – 2015

SOUTH PORTLAND — Gary L. Darling of South Portland transitioned on to heaven, surrounded by his loving family, after his courageous battle with cancer ended on Sunday, Sept. 20.

He was born on April 6, 1950, in Portland to Louis A. and Anita M. (Violette) Darling. Much to his disappointment, he was an only child, who later married Kimberly A. (Deakin) Darling in 1970, also an only child — thus his wish to be an uncle was never fulfilled. Along the way, Gary and Kim embraced other people’s children as their own nieces and nephews in order to fill that hole.

Gary graduated from South Portland High School in 1968. He later enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, where he served as a first-class salvage diver. His duty to his country was strong, and he wore his uniform proudly. Later in life, he came to enjoy the comaraderie of fellow veterans he met at the the VFW Post 832 in South Portland.

In 1973, after the service, he went to work for W.L. Blake Supply Co. From there, he went on to work for plumbing companies, Gerber and Miles. He then decided to change over to industrial fire protection companies, installing sprinkler systems, beginning with Carvel. He moved onto Capital, then Girard, and finally found his home at Eastern Fire Protection, where he happily stayed for 33 years. He felt more like a family member at Eastern than an employee, and he made many dear and enduring friendships.

Gary was a hopeless romantic, who loved to wax poetic around an evening fire and serenade you with ballads of old.


Once in a while, someone special passes through your life and leaves a mark on your soul. Gary was that sort of guy — whether it be singing to you on bended knee in the middle of a crowded restaurant or regaling you with a plethora of entertaining and hilarious stories at the annual Clam Festival party. Another favorite of Gary’s was to gift you with one of his famous iambic pentameter poems, which usually contained words he invented to complete the rhyme.

Gary was a Harley-driving, fun-loving character, who brought joy and laughter into any room he entered. He valued his friends and genuinely cared about their well-being. Those friendships were for life.

Gary felt a burden for suffering children, whether it be physically, emotionally or financially, and his generosity extended far beyond his wallet. Camp Susan Curtis was especially near and dear to his heart.

Above all else, he enjoyed sharing the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren to anyone who would listen. He made sure they had a solid foundation spiritually, culturally and academically by affording them many adventurous experiences.

The world will be a little duller without his gregarious presence.

Surviving are “the love of his life,” Kimberly A. (Deakin) Darling; a son, Christopher A. Darling and his wife, Heidi, of Lovell and their children, Benjamin, Samuel and Madeline; a daughter, Amy R. Freese and her husband, Richard, of South Portland and their children, Emily and Abigail.

To view Gary’s memorial page or to share an online condolence, please visit www.ctcrawford.com.

Comments are no longer available on this story