Marlene Call Walker
by Heather Hoyt
written April 2016
The family isn’t really smiling, but they do not look unhappy. Instead, they are frozen in time, as if that moment would last forever. And it did, in a way, because that single family photograph hung in their house for decades. I have seen different prints of the same moment, some in color, but the one that I studied for years, sitting above the work bench, was in black and white.
Grandpa is the photographer, leaning on a ladder next to their cherry tree. He holds a camera, though there is also the additional camera that captured the moment. Grandma is nearby. Both are at the top of the frame, watching over and guiding their family. Grandma looks confident, ready for everything. She is holding a rolling pin, placed casually in her hand. She looks tall in the picture, young.
There are six children. The oldest, Jill, stands in the center, in a graduation robe. The next oldest, Raymond, stands in his basketball uniform: short shorts, long socks. Then the next three girls: Brenda is calm. Sharon looks solemn. Melody, in blonde pigtails, looks mischievous. Then, finally, Chris is the baby, not old enough to look at the camera.
This is a family picture of permanence, the one that everyone always remembers, not only because it is the one that is always hanging up, but because it was taken in the short period when all the children were at home together, before marriages and grandkids, when everyone was still young.
Next to the family picture, there is a picture of Grandma and Grandpa together, formally posing in a studio. Grandma smiles softly, mouth closed. Grandpa simply looks like Grandpa, and I cannot read his expression.
Photographs are memories to the subjects, but to the stranger, they are possibilities, glimpses into times far away.
This history is like a photograph. It relates some stories, but it does not try to capture everything at once. I select moments and memories, some more accurate than other, that help you see into the life and character of my Grandma, Marlene Call Walker.
A RICH HERITAGE
Marlene came from a large family. She was a descendant of Parley P. Pratt and Anson Call, as well as other Mormon pioneers. Her father, Helaman Pratt Call, was the proud son of Willard Call and Leah Pratt. Willard Call had two wives, Adelaide and Leah. They had twenty-four children between them, and so Marlene had many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Because Willard went blind in his life, all his children helped worked to provide for the family. Leah lived in the farm house in Bountiful. Adelaide lived in Salt Lake. The children lived in the Bountiful in the summer to farm and then in Salt Lake in the winter to work in the stores.
Marlene loves the stories of her ancestors and family. One of her favorites is about her dad when he was young. He was riding a horse down main street and he stopped to use an outhouse. He carefully tied the horse to the door. A car came down the street and backfired, spooking the horse. The horse took off and pulled the outhouse with him. Helaman was still inside, struggling to hold on and to pull up his pants. When the horse stopped, a crowd had gathered to watch Helaman crawl out.
Marlene treasures her rich heritage. She has written stories and notes about her family and her ancestors. As a grandmother, she created a game for her grandkids to play with photographs of her ancestors, relating stories to them. Her family and her pioneer ancestors have been a large part of her life and serve as the foundation of who she is.
CHILD OF DEPRESSION AND WAR
Marlene was born on April 18, 1933, the oldest child of Helaman Pratt Call and Merle Alice Rees. At the time, her parents lived in a small apartment in Salt Lake City and her father worked at the Piggly-Wiggly. Helaman couldn’t get much time off to help with a new baby, so they arranged for Merle to have the baby at Grandma Leah Call’s home in Bountiful, Utah. When the time came, they started their drive to Bountiful, but just outside of Salt Lake, they ran out of gas. Someone had apparently siphoned their tank. Helaman ran into town. By the time he got back to the car with gas so they could get going again, his nose was bleeding, and he couldn’t get it to stop. When they arrived at Grandma Leah Call’s home, the doctor had to attend to Helaman’s bleeding nose instead of attending to Merle. So Marlene was brought into the world with the assistance of Aunt Samantha, a midwife.
When Marlene was still very young, the family moved from the Midgley Apartments to a house on 1218 Wood Avenue in Salt Lake City, a white frame house with a large cherry tree in front, right on the property line. She lived in this house the rest of her childhood. It was not a very big house, with only one bedroom at first. Helaman and Merle had six children there: after Marlene, they had Neil (16 May 1936), Linda (8 May 1940), Alan (22 November 1942), Sylvia (7 July 1946), and Blaine (12 December 1951). But they loved their house there even if it was small.
Because Marlene was born and raised during the Great Depression and World War II, there were times when there simply wasn’t enough sustenance. The family relied heavily on the Lord, praying for their daily nourishment. Because of food rations, there was no pepper and limited sugar and fruit. The would only have half a glass of milk for the day, and Marlene remembers going down to the cellar to get the last bottle of milk. There was always another one there. At a very young age, Marlene learned how to trust in her Heavenly Father.
Her dad, Helaman, was an insurance salesman for a large part of his career. He was also active in church service and was a bishop for some time. Her mother sometimes styled hair for her neighbors, but she was primarily a talented homemaker. She would have her children pick cherries from their side of the tree and then she would bottle cherries and make black cherry pies. Marlene also remembers baked Alaska and lots of homemade rolls.
Marlene, as the oldest, often helped out around the house and tended her young siblings. She learned how to work as a child, but she also learned how to play. She would sneak graham crackers with her brother Neil. They would have races with icicles to see whose would grow the longest before it fell or melted (and when the neighbor boy knocked her icicle off the roof, she felt like the world had ended). They also often went on trips, often to see her very numerous relatives.
Marlene was also active in church and in school. When she was eight years old, Marlene was baptized on 26 April 1942 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and confirmed the same day. She attended Emerson Elementary, Irving Junior High School, and finally East High School in Salt Lake City.
World War II began while she was a child. Her father was drafted in to join the Navy. He was older than some of the enlisted men, with four children at home. After he completed training, Merle went to San Francisco with her four young children for the summer to be near him.
Helaman was sent overseas where his ship was hit. He was injured, though not severely. When he had the opportunity to call home, Merle told him that Linda had been run over by a car while riding her tricycle. Linda was critically injured. The phone call ended abruptly. Merle didn’t know how badly Helaman was injured. As quickly as he could, he arranged for emergency leave to go home. When he did arrive in the middle of the night, he found Merle awake and ironing.
Life was not easy even after the war ended. In December 1945, Marlene’s parents were both involved in a devastating automobile accident and were both severely injured. A car full of young people turned directly in front of them. Merle and Helaman were both in the hospital for quite some time, but Merle almost died from her injuries and infections. Her face was very badly hurt, and Marlene told me once how the only thing she recognized was her mother’s arm. Their Christmas plans were ruined, but both Helaman and Merle pulled through. Merle was determined to go home for Christmas, and she did.
As a youth, Marlene remembers that her parents let her decorate her room: she got to pick the green striped wallpaper and the curtains and little mirror curtain holders. She recalls getting all of her clothes out on the bed and sorting into piles of what needed to be mended, and then putting it all back because she didn’t have to time to do it right then. Some summers, she went to girl’s camp, and at one time met another Marlene Call who turned out to be a cousin. And she had her share of embarrassing situations. She recalls, “We grew up with church dance festivals. I was practicing and had a new circular skirt I had just bought for the performance. It had a zebra wide belt. The skirt kept slipping, so I tightened the belt. When my partner Rex went to lift me up by the waist, I ducked, and he grabbed me above the waist. My skirt slowly floated to the floor. My slip had blue paint on and was short and very crooked. I was so embarrassed. I ran into the restroom and wouldn’t leave. After everyone had gone home, Rex’s mother came in and took me home.”
Marlene graduated high school in 1951 and entered her young adult years.
LEARNING AND WORKING AS A YOUNG ADULT
Before college, Marlene had saved all the money she could, and finally saved $300 to pay for tuition and books. She put the money in the bank book and was riding on the bus one day. When she got off the bus and went home, it was gone. She had a date that evening, so she couldn’t go back and look for it. She did not pay attention during the date at all, just thinking about where all of her hard-earned money could have gone to. When she got home, they called the bus people, but they hadn’t found anything on the bus. She and her dad went to the bus station to look at the bus, but it wasn’t there. She was still hopeful that it would turn up. She went to church, and after she had left, she realized that she hadn’t paid her tithing. So she got her tithing and paid it. After paying her tithing, she fully expected the money to show up. She was walking with a friend home, and she decided to walk up to where the bus stop was. She kicked some snow around, trying to find it. And there, right on the top of the snow, was her bank book. There were footsteps all around it, where people had gotten on and off the bus after she had dropped it. But the bank book and all the money were right there waiting for her.
Marlene went to Brigham Young University in the fall. I remember looking through her papers and finding one from her college years. I liked her paper quite a lot, but the professor had marked it: college is complicated, sometimes convoluted, and some of Marlene’s strengths include her ability to look at the world in a simple, straightforward way and to focus more on people than on facts. As a young adult, Marlene valued her relationships with other people. She enjoyed dances, going to movies, and spending time with friends.
Marlene spent many of her young adult years working. After spending a year at BYU, she moved back home with her parents. She says she “stayed home to work to help support Mother and Daddy and my brothers and sisters.” Her family was having some difficult times as her father had been having some blackouts. This forced him to switch careers, as he could no longer drive. As the oldest, she helped out as much as she could. She says, “I saved every penny I earned, outside of the food we needed, to buy a new refrigerator. All we had was a 4 cubic foot one for the 8 of us. Neil was working and helping too. He was to save for a new couch because our old one was worn out. The refrigerator we finally got was an 11 ½ cubic foot one, we got on sale for around $360. It never was too satisfactory.”
She says that during that time, “We as a family had many wonderful, faith-promoting experiences. I was fortunate. I can remember the day when we went to the basement to find something to eat and there was only enough for one meal. I went to Mother very worried because I knew there was no money to buy food and the children had to eat. Mother was so reassuring in her manner. She said, don’t worry. It wasn’t long after that we found a box of tomatoes and a box of peaches and another box with some canned food inside. Never did food look so good to me nor was I so happy for friends as I was at that moment.”
She continues, “When Daddy was in the hospital they took pictures of his brain and found either a tumor or a perforated artery. Our Bishop Charles H. Sorenson further administered to him and promised him the next day when they were to examine the spot of difficulty that they would find the trouble was no longer there. The pictures showed no injury or growth much to the surprise of the doctors.”
Marlene had many jobs throughout her life. One of her first jobs was cleaning house for a piano teacher, though she recalls that she didn’t do a good job and left the floor with streaks. That didn’t last long. She worked quite a bit at different food places: she was a waitress at the ZCMI center; she worked at a soda fountain at Walgreen’s (she says she had trouble keeping track of the orders and she hated the fact that there were ladies addicted to Coca-Cola); she worked at the BYU bookstore, serving hamburgers; she served breakfast at the boy’s cafeteria at BYU; and she worked at the Paramount Milk Depot as a car hop, which she enjoyed because she had lots of friends there. Later on, she worked at Sugarhouse Music and then went to Glenn Brothers Music because they needed someone with experience.
There is one more job she had that proved to be one of the most significant: One summer, she worked at Deseret News doing telephone soliciting. At that job, she met Mary Jean Walker. And Mary Jean Walker had a brother named Jim.
Mary Jean pestered Marlene to meet her brother. And Jim writes, “My sister Mary got on my case because I had not looked up her girlfriend yet and told me to get going with the problem.” Jim met Marlene’s mother before he met Marlene. Merle told them Marlene was working at Glenn Brothers Music, she had returned to BYU, and was living in Provo. So Jim went down to Glenn Brothers Music and looked around at all the workers. He liked what he saw and left before he talked to anyone.
Jim went and knocked on Marlene’s door in Provo. He said that he was Mary’s brother, and Marlene said, “I don’t know any Mary.” She knew a Mary Jean. Jim was about to go when they realized that Mary was Mary Jean. Jim asked her to a ward barbecue were having for the deer hunt. Marlene knew a lot of people in the ward, and she agreed to go.
In the fall of 1953, they had their first date. At the barbecue, Marlene recalls, “He went off to his friends he hadn’t seen in a long time, and I went off with my friends, and it was a different date. The only thing we did together was eat.” But he did ask her out again the next day. Marlene says, “We ended up in Midway, to see his buddy he was in the service with. We ate on these cute little chairs with the heart-shaped wire backs. We had a good ice cream dessert and came down the canyon on the road across the Deer Creek dam. I was teasing him. He acted like the cat that swallowed a mouse. He had something inside him that he wanted to share. He stopped the car and said, ‘Someday I’m going to marry you.’ And he stepped on the gas. He was so quiet on the way home. Neither one of us said a word.”
Because he was in the military, they went on only one other date before his leave was over. He went to Korea, and they started writing letters to each other. Marlene continued working and attending BYU. When Jim got home, they started dating again.
Marlene and Jim were not an obvious match. Marlene was a city girl. Raised in Salt Lake City, she was surrounded by people. I remember seeing photos of her with other boys; there were a lot of BYU boys and Salt Lake boys that wanted to marry her. But Jim was different.
Jim had been raised in Pleasant Grove, a place with farms and orchards. He was an avid scouter, photographer, and knew a lot about the outdoors. He was tall, somewhat reserved. But Marlene told me once that she liked Jim because he was confident, ready to take on the world.
They got engaged in the winter of 1954. They had talked about marriage for some time. Marlene says, “We grew into it, and decided together that was the way things should be.” She continues, “The night that he gave me the ring was a good one because he wanted it to be really special. He waited for the first snow of the year, and he made a snowball . . . I could remember so vividly, at the bottom of the stairs, he handed me this snowball and he handed it to me funny so that the ring was inside of the snowball and it went on my finger. It was special.”
But Jim was then given the opportunity to serve a mission (because of the war, not many were able to go). In early 1955, he got a mission call to serve in the Texas Louisiana Mission. However, Jim experienced some health problems and was released from his mission with the promise that if he lived righteously, he would be able to go on a mission with his wife.
Jim and Marlene decided to get married, and on December 14, 1955, they were sealed for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. Marlene said that if she could hold onto any memory, it would be of being in the temple.
ADVENTURES IN EARLY MARRIAGE
Their first few years of marriage were a succession of different adventures, jobs, homes, and children. Jim and Marlene did not go on a honeymoon because of, according to Jim, “money, health, and weather.” They planned to go on a trip after school got out. They lived in various apartments in Salt Lake the first bit of their marriage while Jim went to school at the University of Utah. Marlene worked at a bank for a while, until she got pregnant with her first child.
Because Jim was the assistant scoutmaster in their ward, in the summer of 1956 they went on scout camp together instead of going on a proper honeymoon. Marlene was the only female in the camp and Jim said that she “was treated like a queen. Every one became her servant.”
The first years of marriage were a difficult time, with Marlene pregnant and Jim in school, but Marlene says that the Lord provided for them. In the fall of 1956, Jim took a job in New Mexico instead of going back to school, so he was away when Marlene gave birth to their first child. Jilleen (a combination of Jim and Marlene) was born on 22 October 1956, and Marlene became a full-time mother. They had their second baby, Raymond, on 15 April 1959.
In order to provide for his family better, Jim had decided to go back to school and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. They were able to buy their first home on 2610 South 5th East in Salt Lake City, where they lived until 1962. While living in that home, they had another baby girl, named Sharon, born on 21 October 1961.
Because of Jim’s work as an engineer, they moved around a lot. In 1962, they moved to the St. Louis area, and then around 1963 or 1964 they moved to 1209 Spruce Alamogordo, New Mexico. From New Mexico, they moved to 45121 North 15th St. West, Lancaster, California where Brenda was born on 19 May 1965. They moved back to 1200 Fox Run, Florissant, Missouri, later in 1965.
In 1967, Jim found a new job working at Brigham Young University, and they bought a home at 330 South 1300 East in Pleasant Grove Utah. Jim worked at BYU for the rest of his career and they lived in that house until 2015. In that home, Jim and Marlene had their final two children: Melody, born on 3 October 1968 and Christopher, born on 16 December 1974.
Marlene loved to spend time with her children. She would take her kids to the Days of ’47 Parade and make them costumes. Raymond remembers that she dressed him up as a cowboy to ride in the parade with his trike, even though he was supposed to be Brigham Young. He thought Brigham Young looked like a cowboy, and Marlene went along with it. She often went outside and played traffic with them, drawing traffic lines and holding stop signs as Raymond rode his fire engine and Jill rode her tricycle. She would play catch with Raymond. And she was creative: she would do crafts and make up games. Jill remembers racing with marbles in their toes.
Marlene loved simple, special things. She loved having babies around. Jill remembers how “absolutely necessary” was shortened to “abolutionary.” Marlene treasured small moments.
Marlene was a teacher. She taught her children to work. She would assign them chores and work alongside them. She taught her children about their Heavenly Father and she taught them to pray. She would often would pray for them. She taught them how to follow directions and read. They would read National Geographic magazines. And she taught them particularly to read the scriptures. She taught them music and singing, often singing songs together in the car and around the campfire, even if they weren’t always on tune. They sometimes sang funny songs like Johnny Verbeck. And Marlene often encouraged her children to memorize and learn hymns. She taught them about their ancestors and shared stories with them. She taught her girls how to be mothers and how to cook, clean, and raise a family. She helped teach her two sons how to be good fathers. She taught them how to serve. Chris remembers that after he would play soccer or basketball Saturday mornings, his parents would take him to his Grandma Walker’s house to help her out and serve her.
They had many traditions as a family. They would sing happy birthday, including a second verse that went, “We love you, we do.” And they had baby new year come and put candy in the kids’ shoes.
They spent a lot of time outdoors as a family: they often went camping, hiking, and fishing. They would have the kids pitch in, setting up tents, rolling up sleeping bags, and cooking and cleaning.
Marlene helped her children and was involved in every aspect of their life. She was involved with scouts (both Chris and Ray received their Eagle award). She often led 4H groups, along with Jim. She helped with their school work. She was as dedicated a mother as she could be, involved in her children’s life to the best of her ability. They felt safe and trusted.
Much of Jim’s career consisted of aerial photography, where he combined his love of photography and building model airplanes. He helped pioneer the fields of photographic engineering, space flight photography, infrared photography, and aerial reconnaissance. He would often travel for work, going to places such as Mexico, Canada, Israel, Africa, and India. But Jim included his family in his career. He would send regular letters home while traveling. In the summers, he would take his kids to the BYU archeology field school.
And Marlene was supportive as could be. I was once sitting with my grandparents as they sorted through their large collection of photographs. They were trying to decide what ones to keep, and as they looked through the photographs, they told me stories. They would look at a picture and say, “We ate lunch here. This is where we saw coyotes jumping up and eating pears off a tree. There was a garden here. We ate prickly pear cactus.” Marlene went along on many of his travels and trips.
Even though aerial photography was Jim’s career, it really belonged to both of them. They were often standing out in the middle of nowhere, as a small airplane flew around taking pictures. They were together.
Jim and Marlene’s marriage was an important part of their life. They had hard times and good times, as everyone does. But Jim told me on his fiftieth wedding anniversary, “After over fifty years, I haven’t regretted a day of it.”
One day, when I was helping my grandparents around the house regularly, Marlene came up to me and said, “We’ve been doing this all wrong. We need to ask Grandpa what he needs done, what he wants you to do. We haven’t been focusing on what he wants or what he needs. I want to help him. I want to make his life happier.” Marlene dedicated her life to taking care of her husband and her family. She often would cook him meals, dish him up ice cream, do the laundry, and clean the house. Marlene did her best to make her husband happy.
Jim loved her and cherished her for her dedication. He didn’t want to live a moment without her, and he didn’t want her to leave his side. And she didn’t.
They were sealed in the temple and returned there often, including God in their marriage. And moments of selfishness were brief as their lives became intertwined and united.
Marlene wrote at one point, “Jim is my protector. . . Our life together will be and is very satisfying.”
Marlene served her community in many ways. She started teaching primary when she was young. She served in a variety of church callings. She had many primary callings, including chorister, secretary, teacher, a member of the presidency, and in the stake primary organization. She also spent time in the relief society, as a chorister, teacher, and member of the presidency. She served in the Golden Gleaner program and in Sunday school. She also taught young boys in the Blazer program.
She wrote the following in 1979, that shows how she tried to serve: “I was inspired in Relief Society today. Could it be you are rearing the next president of the church? I’m sure he is being taught in primary. He could be right here in our primary. How do you know he’s not in your class? That makes you a pretty important person, doesn’t it? This thought is a wonderful spur and should urge us on to be the best primary teachers and mothers there are. We are responsible for guiding all kinds of important people. Bishops, stake presidents, primary presidents, and many teachers. We have concern for boys and girls as individual human beings and as God’s own children who may have a bearing on tomorrow’s world. You may be stirring a spark of curiosity in some unknown person who will one day find the cure for cancer or war itself. Something said in your class may thunder from a great pulpit. It may sustain. Patience with foolish questions can shape attitudes. Through these students you will have an impact on the world that will continue long after you’re gone. If this sounds like too exalted a view on the calling of a teacher, after all the president may be sitting in your class.” And she lived up to that view: one day, she saw one of the boys she taught, Wally Lewis, in the temple with his wife. He said, “This was my primary teacher.” He would not have been there in the temple if not for Marlene and her work in teaching him.
Marlene was involved in scouting often. She served in the cub scouts as a den leader, wrote the district newsletter, and had other positions. Because of her work in scouting, she received the Second Miler award (September 7, 1990) and a District Award of Merit (November 1992).
Marlene served her community, including teaching 4H classes and hosting education week classes. But perhaps her biggest service was her love of people and her ability to make anyone feel special.
LOVE OF PEOPLE
Marlene loves people. She loves being around people. She said, “In my lifetime, I think I’ve only been around kind people. I don’t know, I’m just very blessed, I’m sure.” Everyone is Marlene’s favorite person.
Marlene loves her family primarily. She loves spending time with people. She loves when she has visitors and she loves visiting others.
Once, I asked her about a trip to Israel shortly after she returned. She didn’t talk so much about the places she had been. She immediately talked about the wonderful people she had travelled with and the good things they had done. She is tickled when someone does something kind for her.
Marlene had a list of person after person who had made an impact on her life. She treasured small moments and short words. She was humble and very teachable, always wanting to be around people to learn from them.
And when you are around Marlene, you feel important and you know that she loves you.
Marlene is someone who endures to the end. She continually keeps trying to do her best.
Jim retired from BYU in 1997 and they continued to live in their house in Pleasant Grove. They began to have many grandkids, who they enjoyed immensely.
I will always remember Marlene in blue polyester pants with a shirt that matched her husband, ready to go for the day. Marlene stayed active in her life. She continued to garden in her yard and refinish furniture. I remember her often in her yard, weeding and planting and harvesting her food. In 1984, she broke her hip through an accident as she was involved in one of her many projects. She took classes when she could to learn new things. She was involved in working on her family history and went to Daughters of the Utah Pioneers meetings. She went walking with her husband regularly while they were able to and took exercise classes. Marlene said once to me, “It is so neat to go places.”
Marlene loves to keep things. She was a primary teacher at heart and she would keep things like activities from the Friend, for example. She kept drawings from her mother. She found many things so very special that she wanted to treasure them for forever. While her house was always very clean, she wasn’t always incredibly organized. There would also be piles of paper to get to, things she needed to do scattered around.
Marlene did worry often, about small things and big things. Many things were not that big of a deal, but Marlene was also very good at accepting help and advice from others. Marlene was a perpetual student, very humble and teachable. She kept learning throughout her entire life, even taking piano lessons for some time from her daughter-in-law Claire.
In 2010, when she was almost 77, Marlene even had the opportunity to go to Israel—while Jim had usually been the one to travel internationally, she got her opportunity as well. She told me, “Our trip to Israel was fantastic. I can’t believe we really did it. It was really good for both of us. Israel is truly a Holy Land.”
Jim and Marlene did serve a long mission for the Church History Department for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While they still lived in their home in Pleasant Grove, they went on many trips as Jim continued to do aerial photography work for the church. It was a treasured time for both of them.
One day, Marlene was in the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. They went to the office and she saw a picture of a blessing dress on the wall. She said, “That’s my blessing dress.” Someone heard her say that, and they went down to see. They found the dress hanging on the wall in the corner of the exhibit and it was, in fact, her blessing dress, accompanied by the story of her ancestors. The dress had been hand-made on a ship as her ancestors came to America. There were at least 86 descendants blessed in the dress, both boys and girls. Marlene wanted a copy of the picture of the dress, and she was given the one that she had first recognized, right off the wall.
Marlene loves being a grandmother and has great love for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I was in her house a few years ago and noticed that she had binders for each of her grandchildren, with newspaper articles, pictures, and printed emails. While none of the binder were very large, Marlene loved to keep mementos of the people she loved.
While Marlene did not love hosting in her home because of the stress involved, she still often had her family over for meals. She didn’t love to cook, but she made delicious meals anyway. She often served hamburgers, waffled grilled cheese, or strawberry pretzel salad. After she found out that she had celiac disease, her lunch mostly consisted of corn tortillas, thinly sliced hot dogs or sausages, and piles of vegetables. She would cut up the vegetables and have her guests help assemble them.
Whenever children visited, they felt free to play. The entire time they lived in the house in Pleasant Grove, there was a large, walk-in closet dedicated to games and toys—including a treehouse and a schoolhouse with little peg people. The closet had a sign that said, “Unauthorized Personnel Only.” They had a very old swing set to play with and tetherball and trees to climb. And often I remember Marlene playing something like Rack-O with us or getting out some sort of craft to do. The grandkids felt at home there. There was no worry of breaking anything, of messing things up too bad. Their home always was friendly to children, particularly grandkids.
Jim and Marlene would take their grandkids hiking while they were able to. They would take their grandkids on outings where Jim flew his model airplanes. They had family reunions and family campouts, including talent shows, lots of singing, and Dutch oven meals. They loved to share stories about their ancestors, their personal history, old photographs and slides, and their testimony of the gospel. Jim and Marlene always had a blessing on the food and included visitors in scripture study and prayers. They prayed specifically by name for their family and anyone who was visiting them. They made an effort to go to most of their grandchildren’s baptisms, even if they lived far away. And they often shared family home evening with their grandchildren.
Jim and Marlene also encouraged people to work while they were visiting their home. People helped cook and clean up. Marlene did not like having a dishwasher; instead, she washed dishes side by side with the people she loved. Grandkids were invited to pick cherries or peaches and help with canning. And they would sometimes help with any computer problems.
There were so many good times at their house, such as watching Lawrence Welk or eating a large dish of ice cream. Liz, a granddaughter recalls, “Grandma was always good at making me feel important and special, even as a little child. I have never felt like I was imposing, more like Grandma thought it was a pleasure to be in my company.”
Marlene often took her grandkids birthday shopping, patiently letting them pick out whatever they wanted. And later, when she started to have great-grandkids, she sent every one of her descendants a birthday card every year.
Jim and Marlene valued their descendants, and right in the center of their house, there was a row of wooden and paper gingerbread men with the names of all their children, in-laws, and grandkids. They loved everyone and wanted the best for them.
In February 2015, they moved to Lindon, to Osmond Senior Living Center. Marlene continued to serve and love the people around her.
Marlene, for me, stands as an example of great faith and love. She prays for everything, even very small things, and has faith that things would work out. She relied on the Lord throughout her life and knew that He would provide for her. She knew that when she was obedient, she was blessed, and when she disobeyed, something went wrong. She went to church every week. Her sons served missions and all of her children were married in the temple. She continues to care for her family and for her descendants.
She has dedicated her life with great love to her Heavenly Father and her family. Her example stands as a monument for her descendants. Her sweet, special spirit has influenced the lives of countless people for good.