Following the many years of a long good-bye to Alzheimer's and vascular dementia, Darlene Bitler died peacefully at the age of 89, with family present and loving her through her transition to her next destination, on Feb. 5, 2023, at Avalon Care center in San Andreas, CA.
Darlene was born in Sacramento, CA on March 26, 1933. During her childhood and teen years, she lived in Santa Clara, CA with her parents and three younger siblings, with many extended family members nearby. Following graduation from Santa Clara High School, where she greatly enjoyed her time as a student and an athlete, she became a licensed cosmetologist. However, it was during a summer job waitressing at the Pine Cone Restaurant in Kings Beach, CA, North Lake Tahoe, that the course of the rest of her life was determined. Shortly after her arrival in June 1953, she met one of the regular local customers, a handsome, good humored masonry contractor. She and Gordon Bitler married in September; it was a marriage that lasted for 49 years and 8 months. The first four and a half years of married life brought with them four active children.
During the years of raising those children, Darlene was a committed homemaker and parent. She kept a small house that always had room for one more child (or often, several more) at the dining table or for overnight stays. She raised her children in one of the most natural settings in the world, giving them free rein to explore beach life during summer months, the snow that winter brought and all the gifts that came with the changing seasons. She maintained a deep involvement with the local elementary school, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church and community groups throughout the childrearing years. A most dedicated fan of her three athletic sons, she supported them in developing their gifts and facilitating their fervent desires to participate in every possible sport available to them. Many miles were logged in a station wagon jam-packed with children, traveling to one sporting event after another, often in the same day.
As much as Darlene loved her family, she also loved her friends and treasured the many relationships which she built and maintained through all her years, giving her great joy throughout her life. Her kitchen was often a gathering place where friendships developed and grew, often through many generations in the same families; it also produced endless homemade meals and delicious baked goods that she generously shared. Her love of music permeated the household, early on with her own piano playing, and as time went on, with recorded music as a constant Background to any at-home time. Each snowmelt of springtime meant a return to her passion for gardening. Many people in her life were of the recipients of her hand-made creations. She enjoyed opportunities to sew, knit and crochet, and freely shared the fruits of her labor. She and Gordon shared many contented moments observing the natural world and wildlife and enjoyed traveling together. Visits always meant plenty of time for solving puzzles and playing games. She was a lifelong, avid reader. In addition to all the work that she did for no pay, she also worked for pay at a variety of enterprises.
Darlene is survived by her children, Christine and Bob Bitler of Chili Gulch, CA; Buddie Bitler and Jennifer Matto of Sonoma, CA; Gordon and Kristin Bitler of Marina, CA; Pat and Hope Bitler of Mokelumne Hill, CA. and stepdaughter Sandra Bitler of Reno, NV. She was fortunate to have many years of being loved by her 8 grandchildren and their partners: Cheri Garamendi of Mokelumne Hill, CA; Celeste Bitler-Garamendi and Flynn Forgette of Mokelumne Hill, CA; Kainin and Cylie Bitler of Mt. Juliet, TN; Brad and Nicole Bitler of San Francisco, CA; Matt and Cary Bitler of Castle Rock, CO; Benjamin Bitler and Jennifer Rodriquez of Reno, NV; Marisa Bitler of Mokelumne Hill, CA and Christine Bitler of Ripon, CA. Her 15 great-grandchildren brought her immense joy with the arrival of each brand-new baby. She is also survived by her sisters Marianne Palassou of Florence, OR and Justine King of San Jose, CA; as well as many nieces and nephews.
The family will remain ever grateful to the many hands who attended to the needs of Darlene, many of whom went above and beyond in the care they delivered. This includes the staff at the Gold Quartz Inn, Avalon Care Center and Hospice of Amador and Calaveras. We are aware that you had great responsibility for so much during the particular challenge of providing care during a pandemic. When we could not be with her, we were grateful that you were.
A Celebration of the Life will take place at a later date. Memorial donations can be made to The Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe, or Hospice of Amador and Calaveras.
May perpetual light shine upon her.
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