Agricultural icon Darrel Lee Chapman, born on April 13, 1937, passed away peacefully at home with his wife of 40 years, Shelley, on Nov. 15, 2011. He was welcomed into heaven by his parents, sister Marion, and brothers Bill and Wes. Darrel was a loving husband, devoted father, and caring grandfather.
He will be remembered as a man of strong convictions. Darrel could be counted on to be decisive, quick witted and genuinely interested in the lives of others. He made friends wherever he went, and never passed up an opportunity to strike up a conversation or share a few words of wisdom.
Born in Merced, Darrel was the eldest child of Bub and Aliline Chapman. Raised in Le Grand, CA, Darrel spent his early years working the family cattle ranch with his dad and brother. Darrel was an accomplished baseball player at Le Grand High School before graduating in 1955.
Darrel and his brother Jack were peerless in their careers as young cattlemen, often winning competitions against men twice their age.
They traveled the country showing cattle, and Darrel later took on the added challenge of judging cattle at national shows. In 1971, with his bride Shelley, he accepted the position of manager of the Grand National Rodeo, Horse and Stock Show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, where he himself had been an exhibitor since the age of 10.
When Darrel needed a break from the grueling schedule of the Cow Palace, you could often find him in his true passion, sitting in his blue lawn chair watching his boys play baseball at Serra High School in San Mateo. Darrel supported his children as a baseball coach, 4-H leader, and unlicensed family therapist. Darrel retired in 1998 to pursue his next chapter of life returning to the Le Grand area and becoming a walnut grower. He enjoyed renewing old friendships and spending more time with his family. In 2005, he fulfilled a lifelong dream and purchased a 200-acre ranch in Merrill, OR. He was always ready to make a trip to Oregon with his friends or family. A friend to all who knew him, Darrel will be missed by people throughout the country and across the ages.
Darrel’s brother and best friend Jack will carry on the “Chapman Brothers” stories for years to come. His words of wisdom will resonate with all of his extended family and close friends. Darrel’s legacy will live on through his children Jennifer (Mike), Dara (Gilson), Valerie (Jake), and Jon. His strong work ethic will be instilled in his grandchildren Mia, Roman, Jon, Ava, Chloe and Ana Carolina. He will be deeply missed by his extended family and dear friends.
There will a gathering to show your respects on Friday, Dec. 2 from 4-7 at the Stratford Evans Merced Funeral Home, 1490 B Street. Graveside services will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. at the Plainsburg Cemetery.