Amanda Bailey Darbonne was born on April 16, 1990 in Urbana, Illinois. She was a bright light whose flame was extinguished too early. Amanda suffered from Kawasaki’s disease, ASCVD and diabetes; she passed away peacefully, though unexpectedly, in her residence on March 23, 2021.
Amanda will be remembered for her beautiful smile and infectious laugh. She made lasting relationships and positive impressions with friends and colleagues alike.
Amanda’s family relocated to Maumelle, Arkansas in 2006. While in high school, Amanda served on and participated in events coordinated by the Maumelle Youth Council. She was a 2008 graduate of Central High School, Little Rock. Amanda was an active Girl Scout for 13 years. Amanda earned Girl Scouts’ highest achievement, the Gold Award; she was a lifetime member of the GSUSA.
After three semesters of college, Amanda became a certified pharmacy technician. She was employed at Walmart Pharmacy, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Coram, and CARTI.
Amanda is survived by her mother, Martha; father, Ed; and brother, Nathaniel.
A visitation will be held from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Friday, April 16, 2021 at Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home (1921 Main Street) with a memorial service immediately following at 12:00 PM.
Arrangements by Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home, 1921 Main St, North Little Rock, AR 72114, 501-758-1170.
AMANDA BAILEY DARBONNE
04/16/90 - 03/23/21
Amanda was a happy baby; her first smile was when she was six weeks old. As a baby, people would tell me and Ed that she was the “Gerber” baby; the image of a bright-eyed, happy child with squeezable cheeks. That smile, along with her joyful laughter, became her signature and basis in forming lasting relationships.
As a youngster, Amanda loved coloring, sorting, and solving puzzles. Before she turned two, Amanda would reorganize our pantry shelves daily. By the time she was three, she solved story jigsaw puzzles easily. In later years, these traits helped with packing for camping trips, planning school events, and organizing workplace environments.
Another one of Amanda’s trademarks was how accepting she was of others. Amanda always made friends easily and offered a helping hand. The importance of relationships became evident at a very young age. In preschool, Amanda was not a talkative student but very interactive in all the social games and activities the young students were learning. When a new girl from a foreign country arrived, Amanda became her tutor. Without prompting, Amanda befriended this new girl and Amanda herself blossomed. Amanda sat talking to this new girl who knew no English all through their group projects and recess time. This accepting, helpful nature was the epitome of Amanda; she had a kind heart.
Music entered into Amanda’s life while sitting with Ed at the piano. She became aware of the rich sounds and upbeat songs playing on the radio especially during the resurgence and crossover of country music onto top pop stations. She was 18-months old when she fell in love with the baritone voice of Randy Travis. Amanda attended her first concert at Assembly Hall in Champaign, IL, when she was just three years old; it was to see Randy Travis! As she got older, Country music was not her favorite, but Randy Travis always held a special place in her heart.
Amanda was a Girl Scout for 13 years. She started as a Daisy Girl Scout in Kindergarten and continued through high school. I was one of her troop leaders for ten of those years. Amanda completed badge work, learned to interact with visiting guest speakers, loved troop outings and enjoyed camping trips. Selling Girl Scout Cookies was one of Amanda’s favorite times of year. While living in Champaign, IL, Amanda enjoyed our yearly outing to Ed’s office to ask each of his colleagues whether they would like to purchase a box of Girl Scout cookies.
As an active Girl Scout who lived in three states, Amanda saw lifestyle and cultural differences. This distinction helped Amanda to earn three distinct awards while serving her communities. The Bronze, Silver & Gold Awards were each earned at different Girl Scout levels. Amanda earned the Bronze Award as a Junior Girl Scout, the Silver Award as a Cadette, and the Gold Award as a Senior. Amanda’s interaction with different communities promoted her citizenship involvement while improving her critical thinking skills, and leadership qualities. When she was 18, Amanda became a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Our family relocated to Maumelle in July 2006. We had friends who lived in Maumelle and Conway; they greeted us with open arms. It was the summer before Amanda started her Junior Year in High School. In August, Amanda started at Little Rock Central High School. The diverse Central High was a large high school preparing for its historic anniversary commemorating 50 years of integration.
After relocating from a Midwestern college town, Amanda’s positive interaction with others kept her involved making new relationships both at school and in Maumelle. At Central, Amanda forged some of her closest friendships. Music, books and popular TV shows were the cornerstones for new relationships. In Maumelle, Amanda served on the Maumelle Youth Council where she and other teenaged residents planned, organized and ran seasonal events.
Amanda’s foundation of friendships shifted from academia to business after three semesters of college. Ed and I discussed with Amanda that her introduction to the working world didn’t have to be perfect, or glamorous, but needed to start with a first step. Again, Amanda’s natural tendency to interact well with others allowed her to achieve quickly. After working briefly at a discount variety store, Amanda set her eyes forward on pharmacy.
Amanda was thrilled to start employment as a pharmacy technician. Her days were combined with customer interaction and computer-based learning skills. Amanda juggled the organizational skills, as well as, the customer support role required in her position. Amanda worked well with both colleagues and superiors. Her dedication, confidence, and positive attitude excelled.
The clearly defined goal of independence gave Amanda the ability to work diligently towards that end. She was successfully employed at both a full-time and part-time job for over seven years taking advantage of investment opportunities through company savings plans. Amanda was a full-fledged adult.
Amanda’s critical thinking and organizational skills complemented her compassionate, friendly nature in the diverse healthcare positions she held over ten years. Amanda was self-sufficient and met new challenges. But life threw her a curve ball when she was 26 and diagnosed with diabetes. After initial frustration, she settled into adjusting her daily regimen.
Unfortunately, this sense of calm didn’t last but a couple of years. Her 6-day work week became exhausting. Balancing both a full-time and part-time job, plus lifestyle changes, all factored in to the disruption of her equilibrium and self-management. But what remained true was the importance of relationships. Relationships were part of Amanda’s self-worth; a part of who she was and what she was all about. Whether it was contributing to a work party or listening to someone’s troubles, being a caring individual was very important to Amanda.
Receiving dozens of comments about Amanda’s impact on those who knew her, Ed and I have these to sustain us through difficult times. These compliments are Amanda’s trophies. So let us pay tribute to Amanda; for her lovely smile, for her unsinkable friendship, and for being that special, sweet spirit who was a bright light in each of our lives.
Among the lyrics of his songs, Randy Travis sang about relationships. One of Amanda’s favorite songs told the story of a man and woman growing old together. Using that theme of a lasting relationship, I paraphrase the refrain for you, Amanda:
“I’m gonna love you forever and ever
Forever and ever, Amen.”
# # #
Amanda believed in magic. Not the movie kind; she didn’t think there were people who could say a few words and make something appear or disappear. She believed in a far truer, deeper kind of magic; a kind innate to human beings. She believed in kindness. In its power. Its truth. That sounds a bit cheesy, I know. But it’s true. Kindness is magic. It must be magic, because while it is often so difficult to show, giving even a drop of it to someone can carry them a long, long way. It must be magic because cruelty is so much easier.
Amanda cared very deeply for other things. She donated to the World Wildlife Fund and to breast cancer research. She built an entire career on helping people, people who desperately needed it. She was a small part of a huge system, yes, but she was proud of her role.
Some people like to think of themselves hypothetically. They think “Deep down, I am this way, and I would act differently if only …blah blah blah.” We all have excuses. But Amanda acted on her values. There was no better, kinder person hiding ‘deep down’ within her, she was just nice.
I spoke earlier of magic, of Amanda’s belief in it. While she herself never literally said the words, “Kindness is magic, and I only want to be good and do good things,” every action she took was the result of a character completely formed around that statement.
I cannot tell you how deeply I will regret her absence in my life going forward. So instead, I will tell you a few things I remember and miss.
Fawning over the neighborhood cats who showed up at our house and gave us attention freely; vying for affection from our own cat, who didn’t.
I miss playing cards; watching Frasier; catching fireflies.
Sharing with each other the art which we loved best, the books, films, music and more. We mined them like gemstones and showed them to each other like equally precious things.
I miss sneaking out of bed to watch a movie together at one, two, three o’clock in the morning.
I think about those late nights watching movies or a dozen episodes of a TV show back-to-back and I wonder what was it, really, that kept us watching? Mostly it was the time being spent together. It was special. There was more to it, though. For us, watching something new together was a unique thrill. Theorizing about possible outcomes. Wondering what would happen in the next episode. Then sitting there together and finding out. It’s the same thing that drives everyone to watch the next episode, or to turn to the next page of a book. We want to know, ‘what happens next?’
Humans yearn to know what happens next. We have to know. This is why we become ever more fascinated by children —and anyone younger than us— the older we get. We have seen the scope of possibility in our own lives diminish and there in front of us is a person whose choices are still endless. We watch them because we want to know, what happens next? Are they going to pick up the red block, or the blue block? Will they become an artist, or a scientist? They have so many choices.
I saw Amanda go through a lot and make a lot of hard choices in life and not once did she fall beneath the burden of them. She had the quiet strength of a sea breeze, something which you’d hardly notice, but which never yields and turns mountains into sand over time.
All of life occurs in the midst of two things we only know as outsiders: birth and death. One of these has already happened to all of us. The other, will. We cannot anticipate our end, nor can we remember our beginning. We spend our lives moving between these two darknesses. All of us get to choose what we do between them. Amanda chose kindness, and charity, and love. In return, she herself was loved. She is missed. And now, free of pain, free of burden, she knows what happens next.
# # #
Thank you for being here today to honor and celebrate Amanda‘s life and to support Martha, Nathaniel, and me. We love you all.
On April 16, 1990 at 9:11 AM Amanda Darbonne was born to Martha and Ed Darbonne she came only a couple of months after her parents moved from Marlboro, MA to Champaign, IL. I’d hoped the next time we would all be together the ceremony would begin, “Dearly Beloved we are gathered here together…” but it was not to be. Today, on what would have been her 31st birthday, we celebrate her life and what she meant to us.
During Martha’s labor and delivery, and just prior to the C-section that was required to coax Amanda into our world, I heard Dr Patience Adesida say, “I can’t feel the baby’s head.” When Amanda was born several hours later, she indeed had a head but also a huge heart.
As you have seen in the photographs she was quick to smile and loved to laugh. Her friends and colleagues alike enjoyed the comfort of her company. She was special and we all knew it. Despite her accomplishments she never gained the confidence in herself that she deserved.
Amanda lead a mostly happy life but into each life some tears must fall. And in her last two years of declining health she experienced pain, and the loneliness of self isolation but also the relief of being ushered into eternal bliss.
From the book of Revelation…
“... and God shall wipe away all the tears from her eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying and there won’t be any more pain, for former things have all passed away now, he shall make all things new…”
Please honor Amanda by listening to a favorite childhood tune. This song is happy, uplifting and joyous. Just the way we will always remember Amanda Bailey Darbonne.
I’m gonna love you forever and ever, Amen.
- Dad -
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