Darius Gregory Chagnon, age 61, died tragically in an automobile accident on August
24, 2022. He was the son of the late Napoleon Alphonseau Chagnon and Carlene Faye
Darius graduated from Northwestern University, then later attended Washington
University where he obtained his Master’s Degree in Business Administration. While
attending university, Darius intensely studied Ju Jitsu and became a 3rd degree
In the years between his undergrad and graduate school education, Darius served in
the United States Army. He became a member of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and was
based out of Fort Lewis in Washington. He served his country very bravely and proudly
while on long-term deployment along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) just a few miles
from the North Korean border. He considered his brotherhood as an Army Airborne
Ranger to be among his greatest life achievements and his service surely paved the
way for the many great accomplishments he garnered in his life thereafter.
Just after his honorable discharge from the Army, Darius had the opportunity to
accompany his father on an arduous journey to conclude his father’s life work studying
and documenting the indigenous people of the Yanomami tribe, located in the Amazon
basin in the rainforest of Southern Venezuela. He and his father lived and worked there
in the villages with the Yanomami for six months. Darius spoke very fondly of that time
that he spent with his father living among the primitive tribespeople. Their work during
that time eventually led to Napoleon Chagnon being inducted into the National
Academy of Science.
But that wasn’t his first trip to the Amazon Basin. Darius and his family moved to
Venezuela in 1965 when Darius was just 4-years-old and his father was beginning his
lifelong career studying the Yanomami. They remained there for over a year before
returning to the states.
Darius spent most of his formative years growing up in State College, PA where his
father was a professor of Anthropology at Penn State, while his mother, Carlene, cared
for the family and provided a strong nurturing presence for Darius and his sister Lisa.
An avid student of music, Darius began playing the French horn, quickly mastering the
difficult instrument for one so young. At age 13, he became a member of the Penn
State Symphonic Orchestra. Thus began his lifelong passion for music. In his teens,
Darius switched to the bass guitar. Playing bass in a rock band was by his own
admission, a much better way to impress the girls. Darius also played ice hockey
during his junior high and high school years.
During those early years in State College, Carlene took him to see a model railroad
exhibit that had come to town, igniting a lifelong hobby. Modeled after the
Pennsylvania Railroad, Darius spent countless hours researching the history of the PRR
with no small detail overlooked. His spectacular model railroads, with elaborate
backdrops and scenes, were constructed and painstakingly assembled by his own
Darius had a very successful career in business, mostly working in the San Francisco
Bay Area, where he resided with his former wife while raising their son, Cyrus. His
professional career working as a turnaround specialist for a private equity group
culminated with his acceptance of a position at Westcon, an oil and gas construction
company located in Bismarck North Dakota. Darius served as CFO at Westcon for over
five years, and upon the successful sale of the company, he retired from business at
age 52 so he could focus his energies on his lifelong passion of playing the bass guitar.
Darius accumulated millions of miles flying on airplanes in his business career, bringing
his bass guitar with him wherever he went. He played just to keep his chops up in the
hopes that one day he could return to his first love of playing music in a band. He used
to quip that he would’ve pursued a career in music but he just couldn’t get over his
addiction to food, clothing and shelter. Incidentally, Darius was an avid chess player,
traveling all over the world on business trips; always with a chessboard, and he read
countless books on the game of chess.
It should come as no surprise that Darius eventually realized his lifelong dream to play
bass professionally in Nashville. Upon arriving in 2010, Darius got to work learning
hundreds and hundreds of popular songs, charting each song by hand. He played
professionally for many years, several days a week in numerous bands along Lower
Broadway in the famed Nashville honkey tonks. He enjoyed every minute of it.
He was constantly charting and adding new songs to his repertoire right up until the
day he left this Earth.
When Darius met his wife, Lisa Peebles-Chagnon, it was love at first sight. Their
courtship was swift and they married in November, 2017. Darius was quick to step into
his new role as the world’s best step-father to Lisa’s children, Kyle Peebles and
Michael Peebles. In 2019, Darius and Lisa along with fellow friends and musicians, Gus
Duffy and Will Adkins, formed a jazz band called, The Lefty Collective and released a
self-titled debut album. Also, around this time, a new passion for golf surfaced in
Darius. And in his usual manner, this sport became a near obsession. He spent
countless hours golfing and perfecting his golf swing at Old Natchez Country Club and
at the Troubadour Club. Every now and then he’d throw a fishing pole in his golf bag
and drop a line in the pond at the golf course because Darius also loved to fish.
It is unfathomable how someone so solid, and with such passion, with such an intense
intellect and outright zeal for life could have been taken from us so suddenly. We will
forever treasure our time with our beloved Darius.
Darius is survived by his beloved wife Lisa Peebles-Chagnon, and step sons Kyle
Peebles (19) and Michael Peebles (17); son Cyrus Chagnon (28), Chicago, IL; his
mother Carlene Chagnon, Traverse City, MI; sister Lisa Chaponis (A.J. Chaponis)
Colorado Springs, CO; and mother-in-law, Barbara Davis, Nashville, TN.
The family will visit with friends on Friday, September 23, 2022 from 10:30 -11:30 a.m.
at the Pavilion, located at Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens, 9090 Highway 100,
Nashville, TN 37221. Celebration of Life services will immediately follow with the
Reverend Kenneth Dye officiating.
If desired, the family suggests donations to the Wounded Warrior Project.