Silverdale lost one of its biggest cheerleaders early Sunday morning with the death of Silverdale Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darla Murker to endometrial cancer. She was 45 years old.
“We’re a little shocked and humbled by the whole thing,” said Chris Koebelin, president of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. “She’s one of those irreplaceable spirits in our community.”
Darla was first diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2003 and went through four recurrences over the years. Her husband, Ross, said she stayed at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton for nearly two months during this fourth and final bout.
Ross and Darla have three sons, ages 24, 24 and 20. They were married 14 years.
Darla became executive director of the Silverdale Chamber in 2006, serving as the organization’s communications coordinator before that.
“She loved that job,” Ross said of his wife’s executive director role. “Being able to lead by serving, that was her.”
Koebelin said Darla was the face of the Silverdale Chamber and “put the community above and beyond anything else in her life.”
“She was an absolutely positive force for the Chamber. She always thought about the community and what was best for the community,” said JeanMarie Harmon, past president of the Silverdale Chamber Board of Directors. “I don’t know the Silverdale Chamber without Darla. “We’ve lost a great champion in addition to a very dear friend.”
Darci McGuire worked with Darla at the Chamber for three-and-a-half years and said Darla made the organization what it is today.
“She was just an amazing person,” McGuire said. “She was just that type of person that always wanted you to be able to improve yourself.”
McGuire said Darla was much more than a co-worker, she was like a second mother.
“She was a very strong person and she helped me be strong,” McGuire said.
Darla started Yellow Thursdays at the Silverdale Chamber office and each employee had to wear yellow to make the office cheerful and bright.
“I don’t think she had a negative bone in her body,” Harmon said.
Ross said Darla relished in making other people happy and promoted kindness to those around her.
“She made other people be nice. That was her gift,” he said. “She was able to bring out the best in other people.”
Darla was a horse enthusiast and raised miniature horses at the couple’s South Kitsap home. She also enjoyed drawing and music.
“Drawing, photography, music — she sang — definitely an artist,” Ross said. “She sang so beautifully.”
Ross said Darla instantly fell in love with Silverdale and, as the Chamber’s executive director, crusaded to better the community.
“She basically recreated the executive director position,” he said.
Koebelin said the board of directors will begin the search for a new executive director in the near future, but the organization will operate as is for the time being.
“She would want everyone to be happy and wouldn’t want anyone to be sad,” Koebelin said.
No memorial services have been scheduled at this time.