Dara Ann Russell, 55, passed away peacefully at her home on Sunday, November 28, 2021, after a courageous 15 year battle with a rare form of oral cancer. She was born on June 19, 1966 in Montrose, PA to Jack and Joan (Stoddard) Stepniak. The family relocated to Binghamton NY, where she graduated from Seton Catholic Central High School.
Dara always considered herself very fortunate to have found her life’s passion early on, working for over 25 years in the retail jewelry industry. She worked various positions at Littman Jewelers Johnson City and Philadelphia locations, as well as Ruby and Sons Jewelers Endwell, before realizing her dream of becoming the co-owner of Destiny Designs Jewelery & Gifts in Vestal. She never lost her love of jewelry, decorating, fashion, and anything that sparkled.
She is survived by her parents, Joan Stepniak-Smith and Ira W. Smith, and Jack Stepniak, her sister, Darcy Stepniak, and husband, Jeff Klieger. With Jeff, she was blessed to find not only her life parter, but truly a best friend. And finally, her beloved “furry creatures”, Lily, Chester B, and Hershey.
Dara would describe herself by saying she was “Quirky; but at least I’m not boring”. She was graced with intelligence, a kind heart, good humor, and wit. Her husband described her as “the funniest person I have ever met…next to me”.
Dara and her family would like to thank Dr. Miller of Strong Memorial Wilmot Cancer Center in Rochester for giving them the rarest of gifts..time.. Thank you also to Dr. Lorraine of Endwell Family Physicians, Endwell, and everyone at Lourdes Hospice Program.
The family will receive friends at the Allen Memorial Home, 511-513 East Main Street, Endicott Friday evening from 5-7 pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Dara’s memory to either the Broome County Humane Society, or Animal Care Council of Endicott.