Darlene Bidwell

December 21, 1931 - September 14, 2013
Darlene Bidwell

Darlene Arla Bidwell
Born Darlene Arla Olander on December 21, 1931 to Francis Wynia Olander and Royal Dwight Olander. Darlene started life in the cold dark night of winter in Whiting Iowa where mother gave birth to Darlene on a kitchen table near the train station after hurriedly searching for a Doctor.

Growing up in a family of strong and caring women in the western Chicago area, Darlene was blessed with a strong work ethic and a sharp mind. Graduating at the top of her class in 1949 from Main Township High School, industrious Darlene had a job the very next day working for the Dovermier Mortgage & Accounting firm in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

In 1954 Darlene met Art Laystrom from Laystrom-Buescher Hardware, a Mt. Prospect based Builders Hardware supplier. There she quickly became known as the go-to source for all questions and problems for this category of the industry. Darlene was key to the success for Laystrom-Buescher until she departed in 1969 to be part of a her own family business.
In 1969 Darlene, along with her husband Wally Schauer (married in November 1956), sister Patricia and husband Harold Ramsay, turned an old tavern into a thriving family restaurant named Ye Olde Settlers Inn. This start-up business was a resounding success but when the growth of the area meant new highways being built, they were given an offer that was too much to turn down and the Ye Olde Settlers Inn was torn down in the name of progress.

Later in her career Darlene managed the financial department for National Distributing Company, a prominent Atlanta based liquor/beverage distributor. She made many close friends here and stayed many years until her retirement.

Darlene retired with her husband Patrick Bidwell to reside near a golf course in Wilmington, NC. She had the opportunity to regroup with her older sister Donna and her younger sister Patricia at this time, residing with both of them at different times, in her own home, in her final years. Outliving both sisters and her husband Patrick had an effect on Darlene that can only be measured by the loss of those we hold dearly. Known as “Aunt Sue” to her loving nieces and nephews, Darlene will be dearly missed and remembered as a dynamic and caring lady, with a big heart. She was preceded in death by her older sister Donna O’Malley, husband Patrick Bidwell, and younger sister Patricia Ramsay.

Darlene “Aunt Sue” is survived by nieces and nephews John, Maureen, Constance, Robert and Sue.

In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to Lower Cape Fear Hospice, 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401 or to Meals on Wheels, 4024 Richlands Hwy, Jacksonville, NC 28540.

Please share memories and condolences with the family by clicking on the “Sign Guest Book” tab above.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403 910.791.9099


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  • December 18, 2013
    Mark Emery says:
    Of all the people that I met at National Distributing Co, Darlene was one of the nicest, friendliest people there. I stayed in touch with here until now. I just learned of her passing. To her family and friends, remember Darlene with a smile...

  • January 24, 2014
    royce & barbara byrd says:
    I just found this on the computer! We both enjoyed knowing Darlene. I enjoyed our conversations about books as she and I both loved reading. Her last years of poor health were distressing for all.

  • September 18, 2013
    Howard & Kathy Wynia says:
    GOD BLESS our COUSIN DARLENE, as she sits with her SISTERS at the Right Hand of GOD. Our HEARTS and PRAYERS go out to the FAMILY. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  • November 02, 2013
    R$aymond Olson says:
    Dar, it has been a long time since Forest River and the MTHS Class of 49.You were always a great neighbor,classmate,and person.Will miss you.