On the evening of June 16, 2017, Darlene passed away after fighting a 12-year battle with scleroderma with her mother, children, grandchildren, and family at her side. Darlene Veronica Sandoval was born on February 3, 1959 at home in Torreon, New Mexico to Bonita and Joe T. Sandoval. Darlene was the second oldest of six children.
As children, Darlene and all her siblings would spend time in the hills herding sheep and were masters about not coming home with them. At a young age, she was tough and always came to the defense of her little brothers. There were a lot of boys with black eyes running around Torreon. Darlene attended elementary school at Torreon Day School, and then attended school in Logan, Utah as part of the Mormon Placement Programs for 2 years. She returned to schools in Cuba where she finished her education.
In 1977, Darlene graduated from Cuba High School in Cuba, NM where she was an outstanding athlete in Basketball, Volleyball and Track. She gave birth to her son Kevin on May 20, 1977 on her high school graduation day. She was offered a scholarship to the University of New Mexico for Basketball but declined and attended Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) where she met her lifelong friend Jacklyn Bearclaw.
Darlene left with Jacklyn to Lodge Grass, MT and found a special place among the Crow people, especially the Horn family, and made her place in Binnate’ (Where the garden grows with no water) or No Water. On February 7, 1979, Darlene gave birth to her daughter Venessa Sandoval at the Crow Agency Hospital. Darlene raised both of her children in the Lodge Grass, Crow Agency, and Hardin areas.
During her time on the Crow Indian Reservation, Darlene continued her love for sports as a member of the Crow All-American Softball teams and was a standout shortstop. For many years, these teams made their way around the states of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington participating in many tournaments. Darlene received many awards and recognition for her athleticism in softball.
Darlene worked many years as a Certified Nursing Assistant for both the Heritage Acres Nursing Home in Hardin, MT, and the Awe Kualawaache Care Center in Crow Agency, MT. In 1993, her eldest granddaughter, Jennifer Jo Sandoval was born and Darlene raised her as her own. Darlene was both father and mother to her children and Jennifer. During this period, Darlene met her next lifelong friend Ada White and her son Stevie White. Auntie Ada raised Jennifer Jo as one of her own children.
In 2006, Darlene was diagnosed with scleroderma which is a rare auto-immune disorder that has no known cure. She was living in NM at the time and returned to Montana to live with her children. In 2009, Darlene and Venessa’s family moved to Helena to be closer to Kevin.
Darlene was an avid sports fan and was a Denver Bronco fanatic for many years. In recent years, she became a soccer fan and loved watching the United States National Teams and Real Salt Lake both live and on TV. She later became a Peru National Team fan after Venessa married Omar. She had a love for music and attended many concerts since her youth, lately she has seen Rob Zombie, Korn and Marilyn Manson. She was the ultimate fan of her grandchildren Gillian, Karmane, Orion, and Evelle who all play basketball and soccer. Her grandchildren were the highlight of her life and spent a lot of time with them despite the pain she was experiencing with her illness.
Darlene is survived by her parents Joe T. and Bonita Sandoval; her daughter Venessa (Omar) Buenalaya-Sandoval, and son Kevin (Bree) Sandoval; her eldest granddaughter Jennifer Jo (Taylor) and nephew Stevie White; her grandchildren Verl James Reece, Gillian Sandoval, Karmane Sandoval, Evelle Darlene Sandoval, Nyla Sandoval, Patrick Sandoval and Oscar Buenalaya; her great grandchildren Orion Rideshorse and Channing Young. Brothers and Sisters; Leroy (Nancy) Sandoval, Tim (Nancy) Sandoval, Jennifer Sandoval; nieces and nephews; Jamie Cayaditto; Brandon (Lynette) Sandoval, Tyler Sandoval, Analisa Sandoval, Troy Sandoval, Jonah Sandoval, Joanie Sandoval, and Jovina Sandoval. Aunts and Uncles; Toney Toledo, Grace Slim, Carol Montoya, Russell Toledo, and Herbert Toledo. Her cousins; Travis Toledo, Theresa Toledo, Yvotney Toledo, and Toney Jr.; Darrell Slim, Michael Slim, Michelle Slim, Marvin Slim; Matecia Toledo, Malissa Toledo, Russell Jr, Toledo, Janet Toledo, Malissa Wileto, Anthony III, Olivia Montoya, Farrah Montoya, Montey Montoya, Phillis Montoya, Phillip Jr. Montoya, April Toledo, Uriah Toledo, and many children.
Darlene is also survived by the Horn, Old Bear, Rides the Bear, Whiteclay, Bearclaw, White, Gunshows, Holdstheenemy, Afraidofbear families of the Crow Reservation where she spent many years of her life. Darlene has always had a special place in her heart for Kaale Joan Horn who claimed Kevin and Venessa as her own grandchildren. Darlene is also survived by the Duffy and Livesay families of Helena, Idaho Falls, and Kalispell.
Darlene is preceded in death by two brothers; Joe Sandoval Jr., and Ernie Sandoval, Grandparents; Mary and Francis Toledo. Her lifelong friends Jacklyn Bearclaw, Ada White and Mary Horn also preceded her in death. She always had a special place in her heart for Forrest and Violetta Horn.
Please forgive us in our time of mourning if we did not mention anyone important in Darlene’s life. She had many friends and family and we could not name everyone at this moment.
The family would like to give a special thanks to Dr. John Smith of Missoula, and Dr. Lee Harrison and the nursing staff of St. Peters Hospital for taking care of our mother.
A viewing will be held on Friday, June 23, 2017 from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home, 3750 N. Montana Ave. A Funeral Service is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Saturday, June 24, 2017 at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home with a burial to follow at Forestvale Cemetery. A reception will follow the burial at the downstairs dining hall of St. Paul’s Methodist Church, 512 Logan St. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Darlene.