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In Honor of College Gardener Dwight Darkow

Dwight Darkow with pitchfork

College Gardener Dwight Darkow

President Valerie Smith shared the following message with the campus community on Aug. 12, 2019:

Dear Friends,

I am deeply saddened to share that Dwight Darkow, a college gardener, passed away Friday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dwight dedicated more than 20 years to the College. He will be remembered as a friend and mentor to many of his colleagues, as well as for his passion for and commitment to beautifying the grounds in sustainable and environmentally conscious ways.

Dwight is survived by his parents, Dwain and Dorothea Darkow; his wife of 35 years, Nancy; and his children, Rachael and Dan, the latter of whom previously worked in the Swarthmore Campus & Community Store. Dwight is also survived by siblings Dwain Darkow, Jr., Ruth Tracy, and Steve Darkow, and by nieces and nephews.

Please read more about Dwight and his contributions to Swarthmore below.

Valerie Smith

In Honor of College Gardener Dwight Darkow

Dwight joined the Grounds & Horticulture Department in 1998. He was the assistant crew leader and volunteer coordinator since 2011, serving as a liaison between grounds crew gardeners and Arboretum volunteers and coordinating schedules and assignments. Dwight was in charge of the department’s composting operation and oversaw the organic lawns on campus.

He could frequently be seen with his group of organic lawn volunteers on Clothier and Mertz lawn, hand weeding or applying compost tea or aerating. Dwight relished working in the Crum Woods and Crum Creek and coordinated the yearly Crum Creek Clean-Up Day, collaborating with up to 70 staff, students, volunteers, and local citizens.

Dwight shared an easy smile with anyone he encountered while he worked, seemingly always in a broad-brimmed straw hat. Many will remember the Mummers costume he wore to a staff event in Sharples; the second-hand store gem may have been a little small, but you could tell he delighted in it, recalls one College community member. 

“The grounds crew will especially miss Dwight as a close friend and mentor,” says Jeff Jabco, director of grounds and coordinator of horticulture.

Prior to joining the College, Dwight owned a landscape/nursery business in his home of Glen Mills, Pa. He earned a certificate in ornamental plants from Longwood Gardens and an associate degree in forestry from Penn College of Technology. His commitment to the environment also extended to his work with the Horticulturist for Fair Acres Geriatric Center, a local landscape company, and New Jersey Forest and Parks. He received organic land care professional accreditation from the Northeast Organic Farming Association. 

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