Jon Eric Darling

jon darling

May 23, 1962 ~ September 16, 2023

Born in: Rolla, ND
Resided in: Fargo, ND

Jon’s services will be viewable on this page shortly before they start.
Prayer Service:

Memorial Service:

Jon Eric Darling, 61, Fargo, ND, died on September 16, 2023 in Becker County, Minn.

Jon was born on May 23, 1962 to Alice and Robert Darling, in Rolla, ND. The family moved to Grand Forks, ND where Jon attended Red River High School. He attended NDSCS in Wahpeton, ND and later North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in athletic training. Jon proudly served 20 years in the North Dakota Army National Guard and was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Jon was united in marriage to Suzanne Smith on August 6, 1994 in Fargo, ND, where they made their home. They welcomed son, Erik, in 2001 and daughter, Kiernan, in 2002. Jon was a devoted husband and father, taking so much pride in his children.

Jon began his athletic training career in 1990. He worked at American Gold Gymnastics, West Fargo High School and the Fargo Fever. In 2000, he became the lead athletic trainer at Fargo North High School through Sanford Health and Fargo North became his “home away from home”. He received the NATA Service Award in 2014 and the NATA Servant’s Heart Award in 2020. Jon was awarded the NDATA Athletic Trainer of the Year Award in 2014 and was inducted into the NDATA Hall of Fame in 2019 and the Mid-America Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame in 2023. Jon was selected to be a member of the USA medical staff for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi and for the 2022 USA Special Olympic games in Florida. Jon was passionate about his work as an athletic trainer and touched the lives of people across the globe.

Jon was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed cycling, hunting, and fishing. Jon truly lived his life as a servant to others. He always had a smile on his face and worked to create an atmosphere that was positive and welcoming for all. His legacy will live on through his students, family, and friends. The family invites you to honor Jon by using your passion to make a difference in the lives of others.

Jon is survived by his wife of 29 years, Suzanne Darling, son Erik, daughter Kiernan; brother-in-law David (Colleen) Smith and their children Leo and Norah; sister-in-law Megan (Erik) Redl and their children Alexander, Virginia and Brady; mother-in-law Mary Ann Smith; sister Christa Bjordahl and her daughter Deborah; and sister Margaret Darling and her son Andrew. Jon is also survived by his nephew Michael Schafer and niece Jennifer Linville and many great-nieces and nephews. Jon was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Alice Darling, his sister, Sylvia Schafer, nephew Donny Jussero and his father-in-law John Patrick Smith.

In lieu of flowers, the family wishes to continue the legacy of Jon’s service and passion. A scholarship fund will be established through the ND Athletic Trainers Association in Jon’s honor. For those wishing to donate, checks can be made to the Jon Darling Scholarship Fund. Memorials in Jon’s name can also be given to North Dakota Special Olympics.

Video Tribute:


Visitation - Friday: September 22, 2023 5:00 pm

Olivet Lutheran Church, Fargo
1330 University Dr
Fargo, North Dakota 58103

(701) 235-6603

Prayer Service - Friday: September 22, 2023 7:00 pm

Olivet Lutheran Church, Fargo
1330 University Dr
Fargo, North Dakota 58103

(701) 235-6603

Visitation - Saturday: September 23, 2023 1:00 pm

Olivet Lutheran Church, Fargo
1330 University Dr
Fargo, North Dakota 58103

(701) 235-6603

Memorial Service - Saturday: September 23, 2023 2:00 pm

Olivet Lutheran Church, Fargo
1330 University Dr
Fargo, North Dakota 58103

(701) 235-6603


Fargo National Cemetery
8709 40th Avenue North, Co Rd 20
Harwood, North Dakota 58042

(701) 451-4650

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Memories Timeline


  1. Jack and Jean Rehkamp
    I did not know John very well but always enjoy our visits. Always left feeling he was a
    Wonderful person. God bless John and family. May the good Lord take care of all of you.

  2. Our deepest sympathy and prayers are with your family! JD was a very special person and touched so many lives in such a special way. I know he meant the world to my brother, Greg & Greta. May you find comfort in the peace of Christ Jesus.

  3. I am so sorry about John’s passing. Praying for you and your family. He went to national special Olympic Games in Florida. He was fun loving guy . Going to miss deeply.💜

  4. My sincere condolences to Jon’s family. I was in Jon’s Athletic Training class at NDSU. We only graduated with 11 in the program, so were a pretty tight knit group. Jon was the Men’s track student trainer and I was the Women’s, our Senior year so we spent a lot of time together that year. Four of us went to Milwaukee to take our Boards, and Jon got stopped for speeding in WI . He was sure that it was because he had a MN license. Jon usually had a smile on his face and was a great Trainer! May God give your family the comfort that you need during this very tragic time. God’s Peace.

    • I have a similar story on taking my ATC exam.

      First Jon was my mentor as he let me tag along with him when he was at West Fargo, HS so that I could finish my internship hours.

      Jon told me his story that day. That he got a speeding ticket and the when he started the written portion of the test he said that he didn’t know the answers to the first 10 questions so he got up, went to the restroom and game back and just took the test more relaxed and passed the first time.

      So when I was Living in Lincoln, NE I decided to take the exam in Omaha. On my way I also got pulled over but only got a warning. During the written part of the test I didn’t know the answers to the first 10 questions either. I told myself I’m going to go what JD did. Go to the restroom, come back and just take the test. Also passed the first time and I owed a lot of that to JD. Going to miss him.

      A class act of person.

      RIP JD

  5. Suzi and family, I am so sorry for the unexpected loss of Jon.
    He was such a personable and great guy. I enjoyed visiting with him when I was working at Carl Ben Eielson and Erik and Kiernan were going through there and then again becoming a co-worker with you at Discovery.
    He is going to be deeply missed by alot of people.
    My prayers are with you and your family!

  6. My heart breaks for the loss of Jon; for his family, my family and all the people he touched over the years. He was one of a kind in so many ways. He was my brother and I was his sister from another mother and father (as we would say). His light and love of life shall always shine brightly! Until we meet again.

  7. My heart breaks for all of Jon’s family. I’m so sorry for your loss, Suzi. I have many memories of Jon at your family gatherings, at American Gold, and remember when you two started dating so many years ago! He did always have a smile on his face. He cared for so many and touched so many lives. 💔

  8. I met Jon way back in about 1985 when he was attending “Science”. I met him through my cousin, Leon Tischer. We may have shared a few adult beverages at his apartment by Stop and Go or Leon’s trailer just north of there. We shared a love of music and watched a few simulcast concerts on cable and Q98 if anyone remembers what those were. I lost touch with him for the most part until about 15 or so years ago. I ran into him when Wahpeton wrestled North and my kids were on the team. I enjoyed running into him and we always had a chat about old times. About that time (2009) Jon attended the AC-DC concert at the Dome with Leon and I, another great memory. Sadly, they are both gone now.

    My condolences to his family and all of those people whose life he was part of. We lost another good one.

  9. Jon was a wonderful mentor for our three boys while at North High. Hugs and prayers to his family. He will be missed greatly.

    The Rognlin Family

  10. Suzi and family, We are so so sorry. Our hearts go out to you. I have many memories of him when he was a trainer for the Fever. He had the best license plate! Every time we ran into to each other it was like old times. Always a happy guy! He will be sorry missed for sure.

  11. My heart was broken when a friend txted me the passing of my dear friend peddlefast! I coached the Fargo-fever basketball team in the earl 90s. Jon was our trainer but that doesn’t begin to cover what he was. He handle the jobs of 5 men in every capacity you could imagine and not once was their ever a complaint! We have stayed in touch for 30 years with our txts and phone calls and every time I got off the phone I was a better person that day. Jon loved riding that bicycle thus the name peddlefast as he was known to me. To Susie and family May God’s love and piece rest on your hearts! May you rest easy my friend Peddlefast! Job well done on earth! Steve Bontrager

  12. A reminder from JD’s favorite band. LIve in the moment.

    I’m not looking back
    But I want to look around me now
    See more of the people
    And the places that surround me now

    (Song: Time Stand Still. Songwriters: Alex Zivojinovich / Gary Lee Weinrib / Neil Elwood Peart)

    Sorry to hear of JD’s passing. A good man, and always a treat to be around.

  13. JD was always someone my boys could go to while at Fargo North. He was a truly great guy!! Prayers for his family!

  14. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of JD. JD was an outstanding athletic trainer. Kids loved him and coaches always knew their athletes were in good care. His shoes will be impossible to replace.

    I also had the good pleasure of working with JD and his passion for the veterans. It was his dedication that brought veterans and our students together to hear about the sacrifices of our military vets. The school assemblies were very impactful and made a difference.

    Andy Dahlen
    FNH Principal (1994 – 2021)

  15. As I know many people are, I am heartbroken by Jon’s tragic and untimely passing. Jon and I met at South Junior High School way back when and formed a friendship that lasted over all these years. His infectious smile will remain in my mind’s eye. He was quite honestly one of my favorite people on the planet. He was a man of integrity, kindness, optimism, and humor. My deepest condolences to his family, friends and all those whose lives he touched.

  16. Words cannot express our sadness. JD had such a positive impact on all the students he came in contact with, especially our daughter Jennifer. He was such a positive person who helped her through many trying times for her. He was another father figure. He will be missed.
    With thankfulness,
    Dave, Heather, Katie and Jennifer Klundt

  17. I was so heartbroken when I heard of Jon’s passing. I spent many hours in the WFHS training room with him during my HS athletic career. I ran into him several times after graduating from HS, and he always remembered me. Jon was truly a great guy. I am so sorry for your loss.

  18. Long time Broomall teammate and grain cart driver. JD would take the early shift combining corn because he had to be at the school early afternoon. Just him and myself would meet at the shop and start combining at 6am. We would have good talks over the 2 way radios. We would sometimes trade lunches which were normally gone before the sun would come up. His claim to fame was that he never spilled a kernel of corn. I will truly miss JD and will never forget him.

  19. As you get older you realize the list of adults who impacted you in your younger years is short. JD left an impression on me and so many other Fargo North grads. The training room was something to look forward to each day and JD took such great care of us all. What an incredible man, and I’m so sorry to hear that he is no longer with us. The impact he left on so many young athletes is immeasurable. My deepest condolences to his family. He will be missed, but definitely not forgotten!

  20. JD was a great friend. He always took time out of his busy schedule to say hi. It was great to reconnect with him when I started working at Fargo North doing the clock for Football, Basketball, and Volleyball events after deploying with him in 2003 with the 142nd ECB. He was always quick to greet my Service Dog as well. Listening to him talk about his experiences with the World Special Olympics and how proud he was to help out.
    He was a great man and will be missed!

  21. Suzi and family. Carrie and I express our most sincere condolences to you and your family. JD always had a smile or smirk on his face when you would meet him and was quick with a joke or one line comment to make people smile. We have many great memories of our broomball and softball days with him. You are in our prayers.

  22. .JD was a very important person to my daughter Abigail. She spent a lot of time in the training room at Fargo North over her middle and high school career, not just during her cross country and track seasons. JD took great care of her when she was coming back from injuries, even one very few people had heard of. When she first started feeling pain, he was sure to call us because he new she was a stubborn runner and likely would ignore it. After that injury, she was always sure to go see him if she was feeling a little pain to make sure she was staying as healthy as possible. She always had a great time in there even if he was making her stick her sore foot in an ice bath. She always spoke highly of JD and would even stop in to visit when she wasn’t injured. I believe his help in getting her back from her injuries is what is allowing her to continue participating in track and field in college. He was a great part of North High sports and he will truly be missed.

  23. I am shocked and saddened by the loss of Jon. I went to school with him through jr. high and high school. He was my partner during our high school graduation and we laughed through the entire ceremony. Our paths crossed again later in life when he was the trainer at a high school hockey tourney and worked on my son. Such a great guy, he will be missed. My thoughts and heartfelt prayers to his family and loved ones.

  24. So many memories from coaching. Met Jon when he was the trainer in WF when I coached hockey for WF/Shanley/OG hockey. Great man. Our friendship grew and helped him with his summer lawn care business and then had him care for all my kids at North through the years in all their sports. Steady, consistent, grounded, caring, and a true professional and friend. My sympathies to his family. A great man is taking care of many in heaven right now!

  25. I was very fortunate to get to know Jon quite a few years ago. We enjoyed some amazing time together seeing many of our favorite bands. He was my concert buddy and we always looked forward to finding the next show to go see. Weather it was standing at the back of a small theater or the front row of a monsrer show, we enjoyed it all. We shared Howards Mai Tai’s on our way to Canada, and we sang as loud as we could in the front row at many a show, We always had fun together. He was a mentor, a friend, a long lost brother. I will always remember your words of advice, and try to be the best me I can be!
    The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect.
    It is what it is and forever!!

  26. JD was my athletic trainer at WFHS in the late 90’s and he was truly a pleasure to be around! He ran a tight ship, but always allowed the athletes to enjoy their time in the training room. He was lighthearted and caring, but never wasted an opportunity to crack a joke! I think of JD often when I reminisce about my high school days. He was very loved!
    Prayers to your family during this difficult time!

  27. Susie and Family,

    I had met Jon when he was the Trainer for the FM Fever. Jon was such great influence on many people, he had that sly smile, and wry sense of humor. He never put anybody down, but raised them up in spirit. He will be truly missed. Prayers of comfort and peace to you.

  28. Jon and I had a very unique friendship. I first met him in 2010 at Boulger’s funeral home. I live in Colorado. I made my first trip to Fargo to interview more Veterans for my documentary series, “Lest They Be Forgotten.” Jon was one of my Iraq Veterans. He had never really told his story before about his deployment to Iraq in 2003 and the weight he carried emotionally from that time years later. I’m happy I provided him a non-threatening environment to open up and tell me his story. He said he was a “tough guy” until he met me. What an honor!! We worked well together for almost 10 years, bringing my documentary series and Veteran’s program to Fargo – merging our passion for our Veterans and our students to local schools. These were life changing programs!! I will be forever grateful to Jon for reaching out to me and for his kindness and friendship. “RUSH on brother John.” “Well done thou good and faithful servant – enter into the Joy of Your Lord!!”

  29. JD was such a joy to be around when I coached at North. Jon was so helpful. I always knew my kids were well taken care of. I was so shocked when I heard about Jon last Saturday. A truly great guy who will be missed.

  30. Suzie, Eric, and Kiernan, Missy and I are so sorry for your loss. JD was a selfless guy who brought positivity wherever he went. He will be missed by all. We are thinking of you and praying for you.

  31. Suzi and family- Jim and I are holding you in our hearts and pray the days ahead bring comfort and peace. Jon was an incredible human – Sincere. Honest. Infectious smile. Adventurous. Wise. We were blessed to be your neighbors for awhile. Love and blessings — Sherri and Jim

  32. I met John at a KAO campground the night before a mountain bike race in Hayward Wi about 20 years ago. He was with his biking buddies fro ND and me with mine from the Twin Cities. We were friends ever since and did a ton of biking and racing together and spent time telling lies over beers in between. Like most of us, I could tell stories all day about JD. As we know Jon was more than just a good friend to all, he was a great friend. Really gonna miss you JD.

  33. I was a student at Fargo North and Jon was my athletic trainer. I swam on the swim team and would frequently injure myself or convince myself I had a concussion. Every time I went to visit the trainer (Jon), he was so caring, with a dash of dry humor that made me smile even when I was in pain. In high school, it was so important for me to have adults I could trust, and Jon was one of them, even if it was just knowing that someone would help me if I was hurt, or would remind me over and over to wear shoes in the training room. He was such a facet of Fargo North and always will be. I am so terribly sorry for the loss of such a kind human. We will miss him.

  34. Jon & I went to Red River High School. It was wonderful having classes together. Always w/the permagrin smile, easy going & a great sense of humor. Jon was 1of the few people who knew what he was going to do while in HS. He always wanted to be a trainer. Happy to see he was very accomplished in his field! To JD family, I am very sorry to hear & read of his death. Jon was a very good man . Maya Angelo described it best & I believe her words fit Jon perfectly: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

  35. My heart grieves with so much heaviness with the passing of my friend. I knew Jon for more than 30 years not only for what he did in Special Olympics, through the athletic trainers association, but just as a wonderful person. I could spend days telling you about the thousands of people he impacted, and the legacy which somebody should shout out that he has in Special Olympics. He started fundraisers, he recruited, volunteers, etc. he was a leader, he was an initiator, he was a healer, he was a motivator, and he lived to serve. He will leave a big void in this world, and in those who knew him. Sending my greatest sympathy and prayers to his wife, children, and family.

  36. John was my athletic trainer while I was at Fargo North. He was very kind, caring, supportive, and one of the best athletic trainers that I had in my gymnastics days. I had the privilege to coach his daughter in gymnastics and it was great that Jon was able to be our athletic trainer during our home gymnastics meets. It’s heartbreaking to see him go so soon. You will never be forgotten. Prayers to Darling Family.

  37. Susie! Amazing tribute to JD. THanku so much for letting us share in his celebration of entering in to heaven. I wish all the best! Steve

  38. Suzanne & Family, we are so sorry for your loss. Bob & my dad, Don, were first cousins. We grew up going back and forth with each other in GF. Alice was always so good to us and Sylvia and I were the same age. Jon & I reconnected through FB in 2021 and had a chance to catch up . Was looking forward to tracking him down when we were in Fgo for a Bison game. A life cut down too earlier. Our sincere condolences.

  39. So very sorry to hear of JD’s passing. I was a student-athlete at WFHS in the late 90’s, where JD helped me through a knee injury. He was so good at his job, fun to talk to, and he inspired me in my future profession as a physical therapist. All of us at West Fargo were so bummed when he left to go to Fargo North, but it sounds like he made the same impact and was just as loved there. Prayers for all of you at this difficult time.

  40. Jon what a great friend you were and always will be in my heart! Lots of fun we had in High school and the chats we had on messenger will never be forgotten. It was great hearing about your family! You adored them so much I felt the love all the way here in NC! Rest in peace my my friend for the lord has gained an awesome human being! Love ya my friend!

  41. Although we went to different schools, I met Jon by happenstance when I was 15 and he 16. I knew right away that this genuinely kind-hearted boy with an infectious smile and signature chuckle would grow up to do amazing things in life and touch the hearts of all those fortunate enough to cross paths with him. I left Grand Forks for the East Coast 40 years ago, but we had a unique connection that transcends time and distance. My heart goes out to his beautiful family and adoring friends. May they find strength and solace by keeping his memory alive and celebrating the incredible legacy he left behind.

  42. Back in 1974 Jon and myself went to see the Guess Who at the UND field house when we were in 7th grade. Great guy.

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