The Darby Family Legacy

The tenants of faith, leadership, education, community service and a strong work ethic were not lost on the seven children of the Rev. D.R. “Donnie” and Jessie Darby. Jeffrey, Jerome, Cynthia, Julian, Garnette, Sandra (“Samm”) and Cindy have all followed the example set by their parents and grandparents to practice and live their faith, receive a good education, work hard and contribute to the betterment of their community.

Jeffrey, Jerome, Cynthia, Julian, Garnette, Sandra (“Samm”) and Cindy

D.R., who died in 2014, started preaching in 1966, a particularly turbulent time in Northwest Louisiana as one of the last areas of the country to integrate public schools. Black churches were at the epicenter of the civil right movement by encouraging voting and civic leadership.

“We learned to start out in the church, move into the community and then into public life,” said Jeffrey. “Even as kids we were really involved in church.” Their grandfather, Charlie Darby Sr., started a church. D.R. started two churches that are still active today, Paige Chapel Baptist Church and Jordan Temple Baptist Church. An uncle, Charlie Darby Jr., pastored a church. Other family members have served as deacons or held other leadership positions.

Jessie, 82, retired from Bossier Parish Community College. She also started a janitorial and lawn service, and worked in nursing homes, restaurants, and offices, all while supporting her husband’s ministry. She graduated from Louisiana Tech and her husband held a degree in Theology. All seven children graduated from Louisiana Tech. Several hold master’s degrees and Cindy has a Ph.D.

“I’m proud of all my children for giving back to the community,” said Jessie. “My husband and I always instilled in them to remember people in need. God has been the head our household and we taught them to put Him first and all other things will work itself out.”

Known for being the first Black or longest members of several governmental bodies, the family was honored by The History Center in 2007 for their collective community service.

Jerome, the youngest elected and longest serving member of the Bossier Parish Police Jury, represented District 10 for 40 years. He was recently replaced by Julian, formerly the first Black President of the Bossier Parish School Board.

Sandra, the only elected Black woman member of the Bossier Parish School Board, has served 14 years and works as Coordinator of the Master of Public Health program and Nurse Recruiter for the Nursing Program for the School of Nursing at LSU Health New Orleans.

“All siblings who are elected in public office have vocations outside of our duties in public service,” said Jeffrey, a member of the Bossier City Council for more than 32 years and owner of the counseling service Vision Integrated Programs, LLC.

“Garnette was with the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office 20 years and retired four years ago as Sergeant. His spouse, Dishay Darby, was promoted to the rank of Captain—the fifth woman to ever fill that role at the department,” said Sandra.

Cynthia, like her mother, retired from BPCC and Cindy also worked at BPCC and now works for the Small Business Administration. All seven children have been in helping professions.

“My parents wanted us to have a strong relationship with God, which was the most significant relationship in our life, and to pursue an education to alter the course of our lives,” said Sandra.

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