Darrel was born on March 2, 1933, in Alta, to Tony and Viola Carlson. He was baptized into Christian Faith on June 18,1933. He would later become a member of the United Methodist Church in Storm Lake. He attended Alta School and was especially proud to be the captain of the football team his senior year. After graduation in 1951, he was drafted and served his country honorably for two years in the United States Army at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. The flag has always played a very important role in his life.
While in the service, he married Virginia Rae Hunter on Jan. 19, 1954, at the Storm Lake United Methodist Church. After returning from the Army, the couple lived in Uncle Arling and Aunt Eleanor Peterson's tenant house on the farm south of Alta. The couple was blessed with three children: Patricia, Marcia and Bryan. In 1967, they bought an acreage south of Storm Lake that would become the Carlson Family Farm, where son Bryan and his family reside. He retired in 1997, but continued to help nearly every day on the farm, as he was proud to be a lifelong farmer, and even prouder to have his son carrying on the farming tradition.
Another dream came true when he completed two fishing ponds on the family farm to use as family recreation in 1995. He was recognized in 1996 by the State of Iowa with a BV County Wildlife Habitat Award after establishing a conservation area in his pasture with the planting of 1,200 trees for wildlife protection. His CB call name 'Sportsman' truly acknowledged his love for his outdoor hobbies, teaching his grandchildren to share his respect and love of hunting and fishing. Red especially enjoyed his grandchildren and spent as much time with them as he could. He was a man of his word and passed this quality on to his family.
Red, along with his wife Virginia, have always led a life of service to others. This was evident in his stewardship and leadership at the United Methodist Church. After they lost their daughter to cancer, the couple has been devoted volunteers for the Buena Vista County Relay for Life; each summer Red spent countless weeks of his time to collect donations for this special cause, raising over $20,000 for the American Cancer Society since 2000.
Left to cherish his memory are his wife Virginia of 56 years; daughter Patricia Stevens of Omaha; son Bryan (Sara) Carlson of Storm Lake; brother Dwayne (Rev. Glenda) Carlson of Headland, Ala.; sister Lois Porath of Des Moines; grandchildren: Katie (Dino) Chaffin of Omaha; Cody (Sabrina) Stevens of Omaha; Marcia Paige, Tate and Lane Carlson; and great granddaughter Alicia Stevens; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Darrel is preceded in death by his daughter Marcia Carlson Mercer in 1992; his brother Dale "Tony" Carlson; and his parents.