Gladys Darlene (Shepherd) Fiske, 94, of Harrisonburg, died Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at Wenger House in the Woodland Park section of the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC).

Darlene was born March 28, 1927, in Pretty Prairie, Kan., the eldest of five children of Edgar A. and Ethel O. (McCubbin) Shepherd.

After graduating from Kingman (Kan.) High School in 1945, Darlene attended nurses’ training at Grace Hospital in Hutchinson (Kan.), and graduated in 1948 as a Registered Nurse. She worked for a doctor in private practice, did general duty nursing at Kingman (Kan.) Hospital, and served as a public health nurse in Kingman County (Kan.) In 1956, she joined the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, where she served at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Va., and at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO), where she met and married Charles M. Fiske, a fellow naval officer, in November 1959.

Upon leaving the Navy in 1960, Darlene became a full-time mother and Navy wife, active in a variety of community and military organizations. She enjoyed living in every new duty station over the course of her husband’s career, including Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia; Gaeta, Italy; Middletown, Rhode Island; and Alexandria, Va.

In 1978, upon her husband’s retirement from the Navy, Darlene and her family moved to Harrisonburg, where she became involved in several organizations, including the Retired Military Officers Wives Club, where she held several offices.

Darlene loved sewing, knitting, and other needle crafts. She was a member of the Shenandoah Valley Quilters Guild, where she also took numerous quilting and sewing workshops. She was both a member and a volunteer at the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg, where she served as a docent for several years. She also knitted and crocheted caps for needy children.

Darlene enjoyed music, and as a child learned to play several instruments, including the piano, violin, cello, and french horn. As an adult, she liked to bowl, and participated in several leagues with other military wives and in mixed leagues with her husband. She served as a “room mother” throughout her daughters’ school years, worked with their Girl Scout troops, and even played cello in the orchestra for several of their high school musicals. In retirement, she and her husband also traveled around the country, often to Navy ship reunions. She was a lifetime member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Anthony (Kan.) Chapter No. 187, and the Rebekah Lodge.

Darlene is survived by two daughters, Sara M. Fiske, of Fairfax, Va., and Elizabeth O. (Fiske) Halpern, of Rhinebeck, N.Y.; a son-in-law, John P. Halpern; and a grandson, Jakob H. Halpern, both also of Rhinebeck; a brother, Gary A. Shepherd, and his wife, Nancy, of Penalosa, Kan.; a sister, Linda Sowers, of Kingman, Kan.; and 13 nieces and nephews and their families.

In addition to her parents, Darlene was preceded in death by her husband, CDR Charles M. Fiske, USN, Ret.; and two sisters, G. Lorraine Leis, of Kingman, Kan., and Lois Jean Sheahan, of Hutchinson, Kan.

Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday, June 8, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. at McMullen Funeral Home with Pastor Steve Landis, VMRC Chaplain, officiating. Burial with military honors will follow at Woodbine Cemetery. The family will receive friends two hours prior to the service from noon to 1:45 p.m. at the funeral home. The family requests that attendees please wear masks.

Those unable to attend the service may watch it by visiting her obituary at after 5 p.m.  Tuesday.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation Mid-Atlantic, 200 SE 1st St., Suite 800, Miami, FL 33131.

Online condolences may be made to the family by visiting

McMullen Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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