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Joshua Pretlow Darden

Forest Lawn Cemetery
Location: Pine Gardens I Lot 3 Space 3rd from W Side S Row
(- Oct. 26, 1986)

Joshua Pretlow Darden, a Norfolk area businessman, city councilman, and mayor of Norfolk, was responsible helping to shape Norfolk into a modern, progressive city.

Darden was first elected to the city council in 1946 along with Richard D. Cooke and John Twohy.  Among their campaign promises, they pledged to serve for only one four year term, a promise which they kept.  Darden served as mayor during the last two years of his term. In the four years they served in office, the three councilmen worked to improve the city by eliminating the city’s slums.  Under their guidance, Norfolk was awarded the nations’ first urban renewal grant in 1949, in an era when most cities were still unwilling to accept such help.

His community service did not end when he left office in 1950.  He served with the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which worked to replace city slums with low cost housing and led to the revitalization of downtown Norfolk including the building of the Scope Arena and Chrysler Hall.  He fought against stiff opposition from the owners of housing rented primarily to African-Americans, who lived in deplorable conditions while the owners reaped substantial profits.

Darden also supported the integration of Norfolk Public Schools.  During the period of Massive Resistance when Norfolk’s schools were closed, he helped to collect signatures of civic and business leaders on a petition which was published as a full-page ad calling upon the City Council to open the schools.  His efforts helped to reopen and integrate the schools peacefully in February 1959.

In addition to his service in local government, Darden was the board chairman of Colonial Chevrolet, which he operated for more than 40 years. He also served as a director of Virginia National Bank, which later became Sovran Bank.



Friddell, Guy and Alan Sipress, Virginian-Pilot, “Joshua Pretlow Darden dies; key figure in modern Norfolk” Oct. 27, 1986, A-1, A-2.      

Biographical information provided by Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries. Profile written by Michael Frost, Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation volunteer.

Visitor Information

Visitor Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Office hours: Monday to Sunday 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Free parking inside cemetery.

Admission Cost: Free

Address: 8100 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23505

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