Surrounded by her loving family, Ardell Swasey Gillespie passed from mortality to a more glorious realm on Sunday, July 1. Age almost 86, Ardell was born July 24, (Pioneer Day) 1932 at her grandparents’ home in Provo.
Ardell was a true pioneer woman, the first of seven children of Inez Durrant and Lucius R Swasey. Her infancy she spent in a primitive cabin in Arcadia while her daddy was away herding sheep and her mother tended to the sparse home front. When she was three, her family moved from their one-room cabin to a farmstead in Duchesne to begin a dairy farm; it was an ongoing project of improvement on all fronts. The family was happy even though winters could be 40 below, while summers were hot with mosquitos — and the landscape not exactly green and welcoming. Coal stoves were used for cooking and heating.
Electricity didn’t come until Ardell was nine, and running water was supplied when she was 10. Telephone service followed only after Ardell went to college. Ardell attended to her very necessary daily chores of helping milk cows and other farm work even as she bussed seven miles to Duchesne High School, graduating as valedictorian. She was active in music and played clarinet and piano. She went on to graduate from BYU with a BA in home economics.
While at BYU, Ardell met a tall, handsome football player named Almon Dean Gillespie. Ardell won him over with her wit and humor — and patience that almost ran out when she told him to “drop dead!” They were married in the Manti Temple in 1954. Together they raised nine feisty children.
Dad loved Mom not only for her innate goodness and beauty; he often commented on the blessing of the good family he inherited when he married Ardell. Ardell carried on the legacy of resourcefulness and generosity learned from her parents in her youth. Family for Ardell was not limited to those she was related to by blood. She put her life experience and education to use in all aspects of her life. Ardell was always mindful of those in need. Until the end, Ardell bottled, canned and dried the harvest. Ardell was called upon to organize ward dinners. She sewed clothes for her children and grandchildren, pieced quilts and taught others her many and varied skills, including lye soap making that she preferred for whiter than white laundry.
After her eighth child, Ardell obtained her certificate to teach elementary school. She went on to serve children and youth by teaching for 27 years — third, second, and first grade for the last 16 years. Ardell taught at JA Taylor, Valley View, and Woods Cross elementary schools. She used her gift of understanding to lovingly teach hundreds of children the vital skill of reading, including some kids, whom others had written off. Ardell continued to tutor children even during her well-earned retirement. Upon retiring from formal teaching Ardell did not sit still. She tirelessly helped her own children and grandchildren learn the values of service, hard work, and frugality. Ardell was a member of DUP, Utah Quilt Guild, taught 4H, and was the designated driver for friends and ward members to serve in the temple each week. Ardell also kept active regularly swimming having achieved 2000 miles while living in Fillmore and many more when she moved back to Salt Lake.
Ardell was good natured, resourceful, industrious, and generous. Her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will miss her phone calls, kind words, and encouragement to say nothing of her quilts and the Christmas parties she hosted. Our mortal world has given up a great soul to her graduation to the eternities.
Ardell left this Earth the better for her having lived in it. Dear mother, we are committed to continue your legacy of making this world a better place.
Survived by her children DeeAn (Peter) Strub, Fern (Dennis) Stones, Suzan Mann, Inez (Blaine) Thomas, Elizabeth (Marc) Christensen, Joe (Misun) Gillespie and D’Nell Gillespie. Ardell’s posterity includes 24 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. She also is survived by her brothers George (Jeanette) and John (Barbara) Swasey, sisters Amanda (Ronald- deceased) Prowse; Donna (Steve) Thompson; Maxine (Richard-deceased) Jensen. Preceded in death by her beloved husband Almon Dean to whom she was ever loyal and devoted, sons David and Ben, grandchild Jason, and great-grandchild Jonah. It is no exaggeration to say that she lived and wanted to go on living for her numerous posterity until she could go no longer.
Visitation will be held Friday, July 13 from 6 to 8 pm and Saturday, July 14, one hour prior to services at 11 a.m. Funeral will be at the LDS Orchard 10th Ward, 3317 S. 800 West, Bountiful. Interment will follow that Saturday afternoon in the Fillmore City Cemetery.