Mary Frances Cassetty Darnell passed away at Knollwood Manor on June 13th, 2023, with her family by her side.
Frances, the name she used all her life, was the first of five children born to Willard Cassetty and Katherine Meadows on a side table still owned by her family. At the University of Tennessee, she majored in Microbiology and in Organic Chemistry she met and married the man she would spend her next 60 years with. On a hot July day in 1961, she married Charlie Darnell in Whitleyville, Tennessee. After 2 months of marriage and a move to a suburb of Nashville, Charlie went to serve in the Air Force in Germany. Luckily, Frances had a job she loved in the Tennessee State Health Department, where she worked for 12 years.
Charlie moved the family to Lafayette in 1972, much to her dismay, even though she would later admit it was one of the best decisions her family made. As her children grew, she became active serving in her community and working as a substitute teacher.
She had a love for reading and education. She served on the state board for the Friends of the Public Library for the state of Tennessee and helped establish the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in the state of Tennessee. She was also named a Will Hall Sullivan Award winner along with Charlie. She was a long-time member of the Lafayette Church of Christ, Beta Sigma Phi Woman’s sorority, and a leader in the local American Cancer Society. Frances loved and enjoyed the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and was a life-long supporter of the University of Tennessee Volunteers.
Frances is survived by her daughter Kathy (Dirk) Ebener and her son Mark (Lena) Darnell and her grandchildren Caleb Darnell, Lora (Brandon) Hafeli, and Kaylin Ebener. She was preceded in death by her loving husband Charlie in 2021. Frances is survived by two sisters, Pat (Len) Cannella and Ellen Startup and two brothers, Steve (Sue) Cassetty and Wes (Aneta) Cassetty and multiple nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements include visitation with the family on Sunday, June 18th from 1 to 6 pm and a service Monday June at 19 am at Alexander Funeral Home at 1 pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Macon County Friends of the Library, the Lafayette Church of Christ, or a charity of your choice.
Honorary Paul Bearers are: Gay Chamberlain, Patsy McCall, LaRue Polston, Sue Jeter, Katherine Brent, Ellen Startup, and Pat Canella