Darragh Humphrey Weisman
July 20, 1938 – April 16, 2021
Age 82, died peacefully on April 16, 2021
from a series of strokes and complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
She was born on July 20, 1938 in Battle Creek, MI, the daughter of Dr. Arthur A. Humphrey and Frances W. Humphrey. She attended Battle Creek Public Schools (where she skipped the 5th grade) and graduated at the top of her class from Battle Creek Lakeview High School in 1955.
She enrolled at the University of Michigan in September of 1955 and graduated with an education degree in June of 1959. She was a member of Delta Gamma sorority and belonged to its Ann Arbor alumna club for many years, serving as its president for ten years,
When her future husband, Bob, first met her at the sorority house at the beginning of her sophomore year and learned of the grade skipping and sterling high school record, he asked how she did academically in her freshman year. He was surprised by her answer: “I got eight Cs, four in the fall semester and four in the spring.”—the minimum needed to avoid academic probation. Concerned that she might have been ill or suffered a brain injury, he asked what happened--and was charmed by the reply: “I was having too much fun.” The serious pursuit of fun remained a prime goal, which she attained, the rest of her life.
On December 20, 1958 she married Bob at her home in Battle Creek, the start of a long and happy marriage. They loved each other, uninterrupted, for 62 years, It was the most important thing in both their lives.
She moved to Norfolk, Va. in 1959, where Bob served in the navy .Their first son, Brett, was born in Norfolk in 1960, In 1961 she moved to Madison, WI where Bob was in graduate school, In 1963 they moved to Toledo, Ohio, where their second son, Brian, was born in 1964.
In August of 1964 she moved with her family to Ann Arbor, Everything she enjoyed as an undergraduate she enjoyed as a maturing adult: concerts, sports, friends, bookstores, interesting people everywhere, young people everywhere, even the harsh winters, which she knew kept the population under control—all of it pleased her. She never left and she never thought of leaving.
At age 26 she stumbled on her life’s passion; gardening. On a 1/6-acre lot, she started with zero garden knowledge but was entranced with the small garden the previous owner had planted beside the driveway. Something she could do while keeping an eye on her two small children! As they grew up over the sixteen years she lived there, she expanded her garden knowledge through library books and creating more gardens on all sides of the house—and learned from mistakes she made while doing so. One thing remained consistent: she planned, planted and maintained those gardens all by herself, not always easy for a five-foot tall woman who weighed just 115 pounds her entire adult life.
In 1980 she and Bob moved to a new home on Devonshire Road in Ann Arbor. Its half-acre lot had a large front lawn and not a single flower in the ground. By 1990, when her garden was part of the inaugural June Ann Arbor Farm and Garden walk, the now-small front lawn was surrounded by gardens. Twelve hundred people visited in a six-hour period, and she thought she saw 1200 smiles. That made all the work worthwhile.
In 1994 she received one of the highest honors an amateur gardener can achieve: an invitation to present her garden to the annual Colonial Williamsburg Garden Symposium in Virginia, Only two amateur gardeners in the U. S. are invited each year (all other presenters are professional) and she would be speaking to 350 serious gardeners from all over America. She was invited because, for the first time in the Symposium’s 44-year history, a gardener presented who had planned, planted every one of the thousands of plants in her gardens, and maintained them all by herself. She had gone from an absolute beginner to the top of her field in 30 years. It was one of the happiest days of her life,
Darragh also loved adventure and travel. She traveled the world visiting gardens. Two weeks in Kyoto touring Japanese gardens. Two weeks touring the best English gardens. Ten days in South Africa, a week in Tuscany, a week on the Amazon—not to mention countess trips in the United States. If there was something beautiful to see, especially gardens, she went.
Adventure with challenge captivated her. At 28, she and Bob, climbed New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington, the highest peak east of the Mississippi at 6288 feet, a hike of 8.4 miles with an elevation gain of 4200 feet, When they returned to the base they pledged to do whatever it took to do such challenges as far in the future as possible.
She immediately started running and biking. At 35, with Bob and Brett, she biked from Ann Arbor to Coldwater Lake, MI, 103 miles in one day. At 40 she ran the Detroit Marathon, finishing in the top third, running 9-minute miles. At 55 she flew alone to the northeast coast of Australia to dive to the Great Barrier Reef, At 64 she rode her bicycle 350 miles across Michigan, on back roads, from Midland to South Haven, At 68 she whitewater rafted down the Colorado River for 6 days, on a National Geographic photo tour, climbing as high as 2000 feet to snap photos. Bathroom facilities were a bucket behind a bush, and baths were taken in the 45-degree river, all snow melt. She loved all of it. When asked why he did not accompany her on the last three adventures, Bob replied: “Because I’m a rational human.”
All her life she was delighted by her unique and, she thought, beautiful first name, a name her genealogist father discovered: Ancestors had emigrated during the potato famine from Darraghstown, a hamlet in western Ireland, to Battle Creek. Her mother insisted she have the common name “Jane” as a middle name in case she didn’t care for her unusual first name. Over her entire life, she never used Jane once.
All her life she valued love, home, family, friends and beauty over money, power and prestige. When asked by Bob on their golden wedding anniversary in 2008 what she would change if she could live the 50 years over, se replied “Not a thing.” A long life, well lived.
Rest in peace, sweet Darragh.
She is survived by her husband, Bob, and her two sons: John B “Brett” Weisman (Carmen) and Brian H. Weisman (Kimberly Burton-Weisman}, granddaughters Aria Burton-Weisman and Kelsey Darragh Burton-Weisman, and sister Mary Long.
Contributions can be made to the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan. See their website: ums.org.
Services will be held at a later date.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Darragh Humphrey Weisman
April 21, 2021
Bob, Brett and Brian,
I am very sorry to learn of Darragh's passing. She was a wonderful lady with a great smile -- she even made the Dexter/Ann Arbor race look fun when we would all go down and cheer her on. I will always remember her fondly for the care that she showed to my mom after Milo died and for what a wonderful friend she was to my parents for nearly 70 years. I have a great picture in my office of your mom and her date (pre-Bob) and my parents, and Barb and Jerry Hill from a Chesterfield Dance at the Battle Creek Country Club. I look at it often and it triggers memories of those many July 4ths that we spent on your front lawn watching the fireworks at Buhr Park. My thoughts and prayers are with you all in this difficult time.
April 20, 2021
Darragh was a wonderful friend and classmate at Lakeview High School in Battle Creek, Michigan many years ago.
I am saddend by her death and send my condolences to her family.