Friends gather support for beloved retired CalArts instructor 

Courtesy of GoFundMe.
Courtesy of GoFundMe.
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Some friends are a call away, while others create GoFundMe pages. In the case of Darrell Walters and Marie Mingoia’s friendship, the latter occurred.  

Walters, who contracted pneumonia in August to find a mass in his lungs after a PET and CT scan, was readmitted to the hospital in January after excruciating back pain to confirm his diagnosis: cancer.  

“I went in because I had a really bad back issue, and the doctors did a CT scan. They came back, in January, and they said, ‘Well, we know about your lung mass, but do you know that you have cancer in your liver?’” Walters said. “And I said, ‘No, I didn’t know that.’ That’s when I was diagnosed — they did the biopsy, and it came back positive.” 

The beloved CalArts instructor, who retired in 2021 after 26 years of teaching photography 

at the university, in addition to 20 years of teaching at College of the Canyons, moved back to his home state of Texas, where he has had the support of his family ever since. 

Not only did he leave behind a legacy in the Santa Clarita Valley, but he has also received an outpouring of support that has lifted his spirits, no matter how many miles away.  

Among the former students leading this GoFundMe initiative is Mingoia, who had Walters as an instructor when she was 14. 

“Darrell and I met in CAP, which is the Community Arts Partnership program [at CalArts] when I was 14, and we’ve become friends over the years and stayed in touch,” Mingoia said. “When he told me this was going on, I knew that since he had just left and was restarting his life, it’s a financial weight and I didn’t want him to do that on his own. It gave me a way to feel like I could help and do something.” 

Walters taught Mingoia within his first year of teaching the free after-school youth program. Decades later, their friendship transcends. 

“I am existing with a level of gratitude and thankfulness. Everyone has been so gracious,” Walters said. “Teaching for me was all about the students. It was never about myself.” 

With his selflessness, it was only right for students, like Mingoia, to give back. 

Through creating the GoFundMe, Walters and Mingoia were contacted by Rick Fried, a CalArts alumnus, who then gave Walters the contact of his friend who is a nuclear medicine specialist at the National Institutes of Health and advocates for cancer patients, according to Walters. 

“People have wanted to help. I think that it’s nice that it shows Darryl the impact that he’s had on so many people,” Mingoia said. “I think he is very good at validating people and their perspective and making you feel supported with whatever your interests and passions are.” 

To donate to the GoFundMe, visit

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