Darrell Louis Twisselman passed away at the age of 90 on October 23, 2022, in Bakersfield, California, surrounded by family, including his wife of 69 years, Nola C. Twisselman.
Darrell was born to Dorothy and Carl Twisselman on September 4, 1932, in Paso Robles, California. He grew up in rural eastern San Luis Obispo County on his family’s cattle and sheep ranch in Choice Valley, later moving to the Temblor Range in McKittrick, California, and attending McKittrick Elementary School and Taft Union High School.
Darrell was a character, a jovial and endlessly curious man with a fervor for life and fascination with people. He often credited his mother Dorothy for instilling in him those qualities, along with his hunger to learn. This eventually led him to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business, a stepping stone for many ventures ahead.
He met his wife, Nola Cooper, a farmer’s daughter, at a Carrisa Plains Farm Bureau dance. The two were married on March 28, 1953, during his senior year of college. Together they raised eight kids, Rowland, Martin, Timothy, Cindy, Joel, Nolan, Andrew, and Teresa.
After moving to the Carrisa Plains and working for his father-in-law for one year, Darrell realized that his heart was in cattle ranching, not the farming business. He continued his family’s legacy by running commercial cattle on the Temblor Range. His fascination for breeding cattle led him to raise and supply bucking bulls for stock contractors for over 25 years, even earning himself a top-selling bucking bull at the National Finals Rodeo.
Darrell was recognized as the 1990 San Luis Obispo County Cattleman of the Year, but he regularly stated that he was not in the cattle business but rather in the land business. Aside from raising livestock, he was a longtime prospector, mining gypsum, clay, and gravel in rural San Luis Obispo and Kern Counties for over 30 years. He was the driving force behind the development of one of the largest solar farms in the world in 2011, the Topaz Solar Farm, on his ranch in Carrisa Plains, California.
An avid conservationist, he took great pride in making the most of his resources and being a good steward of the land, developing water sources and rangeland habitat to not only support cattle but wildlife as well. He worked closely with the Fish and Wildlife’s Public Lands Management to bring pronghorn antelope back to the region along with the tule elk relocation project.
His family and friends would agree that Darrell was the kind of person who was always up for a challenge. One of his staple quotes was, “There are no perfect solutions, only intelligent choices.” He was a gambler in both the casino and in life, always betting on himself and his lucky number, black 29 on the roulette wheel. Some joke that he may have been one of the luckiest men alive. He even won a Ford pick-up truck at the Cow Palace that his family recalls him driving around the ranch and gathering cattle until the tailgate fell off, far more than once.
To say that Darrell never met a stranger is an understatement. He was generous, unapologetically outspoken, and loved a good audience and a fresh ear. An avid reader, he regularly stayed up to speed on current events and issues from all sides of the political spectrum. Whether he agreed with you or not, he took pleasure in playing devil’s advocate and encouraging people to think outside the box.
While his resume of accomplishments are far and wide, without a doubt, his greatest pride and joy was his family. His “happy place” was seeing his family working together, gathering cattle horseback on the ranch or in a branding pen. Whether it was rodeo events across the country, local high school and collegiate sports, or 4-H & FFA livestock shows at the California Mid-State Fair, you could always find Darrell proudly watching from the stands in his felt cowboy hat adorned with his signature gold TC cattle brand pin.
He felt strongly about giving his kids, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and future generations deep family roots with which they could grow from, whether that growth kept them on the ranch or took them far and wide. He lived vicariously through the lives of his family, imparting wisdom where he could and finding joy in hearing about their latest adventures in business and in life.
Darrell often told his family, “You’ll get your reward in heaven.” They like to think he’s found a new audience among the angels and is enjoying an abundance of rewards for a life well-lived and a family well-loved up in the clouds.
Darrell is survived by his siblings Marlis Balogh, Carl F. Twisselman, and Marjorie Miller; his children Rowland (Cathie) Twisselman, Martin (Denise) Twisselman, Timothy (Karen) Twisselman, Cindy (Mark) Switzer, Joel (Debra) Twisselman, Nolan (Stacey) Twisselman, Andrew (Lorie) Twisselman, Teresa (Richard) Brander, 21 loving grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren. Darrell was preceded in death by his siblings Kathryn Anne and Kenneth Twisselman and his parents Dorothy and Carl Twisselman.
The mountains on the ranch were Darrell’s church. In the 1960s, when his kids were young, he built the family pond near his home, which has grown and expanded over the years. It has become a beloved gathering place for family and friends over the years, welcoming visitors from far and wide. Please join the family for a celebration of life on March 25, 2023, at Twisselman Pond. More details to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Darrell Twisselman to the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation.