Cover photo for Darla Janae (Neal) Ritchey Franklin's Obituary
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1963 Darla Janae (Neal) Ritchey Franklin 2023

Darla Janae (Neal) Ritchey Franklin

July 2, 1963 — December 22, 2023

Darla Janae Franklin of Abilene, Texas passed away on Dec 22, 2023 at the age of 60 in her home after an illness.

A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, Jan 13, 2024 in the sanctuary of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church at 701 South Pioneer Drive, Abilene, TX.

Darla Janae Neal was born on July 2, 1963 at Baylor Memorial in Dallas County to Addie and Don Neal. Darla Janae was her full legal name but many called her 'Janae' because her beloved mother, Addie, adored her middle name. Others called her Darla and some called her D.J. After a few years in the Dallas area and the birth of Janae's sister, Sherri, the Neal's moved back to their roots in Abilene to be near family. They eventually built and settled in a home in the Wylie Community outside Abilene where Don and Addie had attended High School. Janae attended Wylie Schools and graduated from Wylie High in 1981 with honors. She was active in 4-H, sports, and cheerleading. Like her father, Janae loved the game of golf and played Varsity for the WHS Golf Team who won District and qualified for State in 1980 and 1981. The family were active members of Wylie Baptist Church and Janae and Sherri participated in Youth Choir and activities. After high school graduation, Janae attended McMurry University where she was also a cheerleader and active in student organizations including Delta Beta Sorority. She married Frank Ritchey in 1988 and they relocated to Lubbock, Texas where she attended Texas Tech University and achieved a bachelor degree in Education. The couple eventually moved back to the Abilene area and had a son, Corey Don Ritchey.

Janae loved family and never met a stranger. She valued her friendships; loved reminiscing about her childhood and high school years and kept in touch with many high school friends. She was very artistic and creative and was known to do many crafts, scrap-booking, hand-made jewelry and also did many floral arrangements for family weddings. She loved life, loved family, and adored her son and granddaughters. Although she suffered disabilities from a chronic condition, she never complained and always remained optimistic. She was a caregiver for many and that included caring for her mom. She built special relationships with friends she helped or sat with. She developed a special bond to Byron and Louella Penrod who considered her as family. She looked up to her younger sister, but her younger sister looked up to her and admired her strength. Janae loved animals and wanted to ride a horse in eternity and we believe she is doing that in heaven today and everyday.

Janae is preceded in death by her father, Don Neal; stepfather, Walt Creason; maternal grandparents, David and Vera Mae Wilson; fraternal grandparents, Russel and Marie Neal; two special uncles, Don Wilson, and Dub Wilson; cousin Johnny Wilson; a special aunt, Dee Reed, and Janae's late husband, Kevin Franklin.

She was survived by her mother Addie (Wilson) Neal Creason, but passed away shortly after on January 9, 2024.

She is survived by her son, Corey Ritchey and wife, Alyssa; granddaughters, Zoey, Kaydence, Avrey, and Blayke; Sister, Sherri Frazier and husband, Miles; and niece, Whitney Frazier and fiance' Gage Dutkin.

Special extended family includes aunt and uncle, Mary and Melvin Cheek; cousin Brad Cheek and wife, Melanie; cousin Kelly Cheek and wife, Megan; aunt Sam Wilson and cousin Jason; cousin Melissa Wilson; cousin Pam McCain; cousins Joe, Linda, and Dianne Wilson; aunt Karen Jenkins; cousins Leslie Spencer and husband, Scott; cousin Jason Jenkins and Christine; Uncle Dean Reed; and cousins Renee' & Rick De La Fuente', Neal & Judy Reed, and Traci Dillard.

God rest her soul.

In lieu of flowers, the family wishes any donations go Hendrick Hospice at

Services will still take place on Saturday, January 13, 2024 at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church.  To view the obituary for Darla's mother Addie (Wilson) Neal Creason please visit

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Darla Janae (Neal) Ritchey Franklin, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Family Directed Memorial Service

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Pioneer Drive Baptist Church

701 S Pioneer Dr, Abilene, TX 79605

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