Edward Leon Darden (90) transitioned to his heavenly home on April 26, 2022 following a lengthy illness. He was lovingly cared for by his daughter, Tanya, and her husband, Earl, in his Atlantic City home.
Eddie was the definition of a Gentleman's Gentleman with a heart of gold. His personality was unparalleled. He had an enormous charm and a great sense of humor. A husband, father, grandfather, uncle and brother that truly loved his family. A professional business man and leader that excelled in his community.
Eddie was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey on May 14, 1931 to Blanche Catherine Paige Darden, a school teacher, and Joseph Samuel Darden, Sr., a skilled carpenter and builder. The fourth of six children (Joseph, Jr., Gloria, Oliver, John Paige and Virginia), Eddie and his five siblings grew up in Farmington (EHT), New Jersey where they all played, laughed, sang and took care of one another. Around the mid 40's, the Darden family moved to Atlantic City and joined Shiloh Baptist Church.
Much to his father's amusement, Eddie was very ambitious and had a great talent for building and repairing anything! He would tag along with his father as he made the rounds of Atlantic County, doing carpentry, roofing, brick and block laying and odd jobs as well as building homes. This is when he initially developed his passion for construction.
He graduated from Atlantic City Technical High School in 1951. He participated in glee club, was a member of the "Lamp Lighters" a local teen-age singing group, student council, and the track team. Affectionately known as "Thunderbolt" for his great record setting speed, he won the 100, 220, and 440-yard dash competing against Holy Spirit High and Cape May High School. Some even said that he was a one-man track team!
In 1956, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Vocational Industrial Education from North Carolina A&T College (University) and if you knew him--he most certainly had "Aggie Pride". He was honorably discharged from the United States Army Reserves in 1962 after serving in the US and in Germany, where he honed his skills building military barracks to house personnel and laborers. He also served as a guard in a German Club.
After returning from Germany, he and his father formed Joseph Darden and Son Construction Company. Together, with other skilled craftsmen, it grew into a very lucrative business. The business continued to evolve and later became Darden Construction Company, Inc. after his father retired. Now with Eddie at the helm, the organization began handling multi-million-dollar projects including but not limited to constructing The Atlantic City Apartments on North Carolina Ave. (now Carolina Village), Greenidge Funeral Homes, Inc., the park on Atlantic and North Carolina Avenues, commercial buildings, alterations and home development throughout Atlantic County, Camden and North Jersey areas.
Developing a successful minority owned company during the 1960's, was not an easy task however, this minority company demonstrated to the majority that it could be accomplished. He was deeply involved in the Atlantic City community as a Board member of the original Boys Club (now Boys and Girls Club). He was Coordinator for the remodeling of the former AC Press building into a youth recreational center that still stands today. Later on, he was a member of the City of Atlantic City's Planning Board.
Some of his many accomplishments include: President of ACT General Maintenance Co., a janitorial service company with over 50 employees with National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center (NAFEC), Pomona, NJ; stock Holder and former President of Atlantic City's first black owned and operated radio station, WUSS 1490 AM, "The Minority Voice of South Jersey"; Three term President of the South Jersey Chapter of the National Business League; Member of The Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce; Co-Founder and Treasurer of South Jersey Minority Business Enterprises, Inc.; Board member for the Opportunities Industrial Center (OIC), Atlantic City.
He met his wife, Jearlene Paige Jones, an Atlantic City school teacher after being hired to renovate her family's home. They married in 1966 and from this union they had one daughter. They were married for 45 years until her passing in 2011.
Edward is survived by: his daughter, Tanya Darden-Nelson (Earl K. Nelson, Jr.); son, Julian King (Linda Bizzelle-King); grandchildren, Niamah Jones, Brandon King; great-grandchildren; sister, Virginia Darden Jackson (Joe Jackson); Sister-In-Law, Dr. Barbara Darden (Dr. Joseph S. Darden, Jr. – deceased); Brother-In-Law, Jay Aubrey Jones; and a host of nephews, nieces, other
relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be on Saturday May 14, 2022 at 12:00 Noon, where friends may visit from 10:00am-12:00pm at New Shiloh Baptist Church and Community Center, 701 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, Bishop Dr. James Washington Pastor/Officiant. Arrangements Entrusted to Greenidge Funeral Homes, Inc. Atlantic City, NJ where condolences may be left at: www.greenidgefuneralhomes.com