Reach out your hand
If your cup is empty
If your cup is full
May it be again
Let it be known
There is a fountain
That was not made
By the hands of men
— Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia
This Friday, Nevada says farewell to a humble man who left a gigantic legacy.
My friend and NAACP colleague Darryl Feemster Sr. died Nov. 19 at St. Mary’s hospital after suffering a stroke. His memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, December 1 at Sparks Christian Fellowship in the historic Greenbrae Center at Pyramid Way and Greenbrae Drive.
Darryl comes from a large family of overachievers. His mother, Dolores, was a longtime counselor at Hug High School and grew up as the mixed-race daughter of an Italian-American in the old apartheid Reno. She emerged unscathed in large part perhaps because of her disarming and affable personality. Dolores is everybody’s mom and grandma.
Whenever any student got into trouble at Hug, the reaction was always “call Dolores,” even years after her retirement. Her home has been overrun with well-wishers since Darryl died but big crowds in that small dwelling are normal.
The most coveted political sign location in Washoe County is Dolores’ fence. Its bi-partisan success rate is the envy of campaign managers statewide.
If you go to a Feemster extended family gathering, you’ll meet so many people that you’ll want a program to identify the players. You also have to avoid tripping over moppets from the next generation of community leaders. You might even run into some NFL veterans.
Darryl used his NFL connections to raise funds to build the Duncan-Traner Library in northeast Reno more than 20 years ago. Today, it serves not only the adjacent elementary and middle schools but also opens to the general public. His efforts kept the library open permanently despite two attempts to close it in recent years.
He was past retirement age but the City of Reno kept asking him to stay because of his value as manager of youth and senior services. The annual Senior Games was his responsibility among many other civic projects including the Boys and Girls Club. When kids needed expanded summer programs or backpacks for school, Darryl secured them all the way down to the crayons.
Awhile back, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Reno City Council but declined to run for a full term. “He didn’t want the drama,” according to Reno Councilmember Oscar Delgado, who oughtta know. He kicked off his campaign with a neighborhood meeting at Dolores’ house. Of course.
Dolores is a walking history book of the old and new Reno. Into that family, Darryl Feemster was born in 1962. Dolores’ 12 children include Lonnie Jr., a retired NVEnergy executive and four-time Reno-Sparks NAACP president who currently serves as a regional vice-president. Robert is a longtime Reno firefighter. Lonnie’s wife, Debra, served as Hug High principal and school district diversity manager. Dr. Debra was elected to the school board last year representing Sparks and the North Valleys.
“This will be remembered as a time when we lost a gathering of giants,” stated Patricia Gallimore, President of NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch No. 1112. Former presidents Eddie Scott and Bill Moon, among other pioneers, died earlier this year.
“The Feemster family has been the branch’s bedrock for decades,” she added.
Darryl’s formal and extensive obituary will be linked to the expanded web edition of this column at Barbwire.US/ You may post condolences at RenoSparksNAACP.org/
A giant has fallen. He leaves huge shoes to fill. All volunteers welcome, just like Dolores’ house.
Happy High Holly Days to you and yours.
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 49-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and SenJoeNeal.org and first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail <email@example.com> Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. The opening quote from “Ripple” comes from The Grateful Dead’s greatest album, “American Beauty.”