LOA, UTAH -
Our beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Phyllis Estelle Meeks Okerlund, age 92, died Sunday, Nov. 18, 2001. She passed peacefully, in her home of nearly 70 years, with family members by her side.
She was born on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 1909 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the youngest child of William and Sarah Gardner Meeks of Thurber (now Bicknell), Utah. Because her parents were aged, and experienced poor health early in Phyllis' life, much of Phyllis' care became the stewardship of her eldest sister, Mayme Meeks (Wirthlin), with much assistance from other sibling families. Phyllis spent her childhood in Wayne County, and graduated from Snow College in Ephraim, where she excelled in chemistry, English, drama and a variety of extra-curricular activities.
On April 3, 1931 she married Melvin Okerlund in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. To their marriage were born four daughters and a son: Anne (Dixie) Leavitt, Cedar City; Jane (John) Piercey, Salt Lake City; Faun (Robert) Turley, Bountiful; Doris (Thayne) Judd, Glenwood; and David Melvin (Janice) Okerlund, Richfield. Phyllis has 20 grandchildren, the eldest of whom is Michael Okerlund Leavitt, Utah's Governor. These grandchildren have thus far added 62 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Her children and grandchildren brought great joy to her life and she added much to theirs.
Phyllis' life was one of sacrifice and service. Married at the beginning of the Great Depression, she endured many months of loneliness while her husband attended to their sheep herd on remote ranges. As her children became of college age, she took work outside the home as a school lunch cook, turkey processor, abstractor and newspaper correspondent to assist each of her five children obtain a college education. Phyllis served in positions of responsibility in each of the auxiliary organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Later in life, she and her husband, Melvin, were ordinance workers in the Manti LDS Temple. She was a charter member of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Mauna Loa Camp. She was active for more than fifty years. Phyllis also had a lifelong passion for politics. She served for nearly 40 years as the Wayne County Republican Party Secretary. Phyllis was always a personal champion of the needy and downtrodden, daily taking meals to her "old people" until nearly 90 years old herself, and always seeking to soften the criticism of those insensitive to the human frailties of others.
Phyllis is preceded in death by her husband, Melvin, who died December 1, 1973; her son-in-law, Dr. William K. (Faun) Hansen; her parents, sisters: Mayme, Sade and Dora; brothers: Arth, Rube, William, James and Archibald.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, Nov. 24, 2001 at 1 p.m. in the Loa LDS Stake Center. Friends may call for viewing at the Springer Turner Funeral Home, 260 North 400 West, in Richfield, Friday evening from 6-8 p.m. and at the Stake Center in Loa, Sat. from 11-12:30 prior to the services. Burial will be in the Loa Cemetery under the direction of the Springer Turner Funeral Home of Richfield and Salina, Utah.