Elva Ann Payne Park: My Grandma


     Matt and I want to name our little baby after two of our grandmas. We’d like to name her Delilah Ann Hart. Delilah is Matt’s Dad’s Mom. Ann is my Mom’s Mom’s name. My Grandma Park died in 2007 and I miss her so much. I just found the “Life Sketch” that my sister Angie wrote for her funeral. I think that Angie did a great job and I want to remember what she wrote. Here it is . . .

Life Sketch of Ann Payne Park

By her Granddaughter Angie LeBaron

December 29, 2007

     I am honored to give the life sketch of my grandmother, Ann Park.  I absolutely adored my Grandma.  All of us adored her.  Before I go into the details of her life I wanted to share some of the endearing traits that made Grandma who she was.  I think by remembering these we can better understand her life. 

     Grandma was just plain fun!  She loved to tell a good story and could make us all laugh.  Grandma had a great sense of humor.  But it is no secret that she would embellish her stories a bit (a trait that my husband says I inherited from her).  I was blessed to get to live with Grandma and Grandpa during a couple of my college years.  I remember hearing Grandma upstairs talking to my Mom about one of my recent dates.  They were obviously have a great time talking about my social life and I remember sitting at the bottom of the stairs just listening and thinking that Grandma made my life sound a lot better than it really was. 

     It was a great privilege to get to live with Grandma and Grandpa for the years that I did.  I came to have great respect for them.  Grandma was amazing to me.  She was an excellent cook.  I was always impressed at how she could take leftovers and make a feast for dinner.  As a child I loved to go to Grandma’s house.  She has always opened her home to her family.  In recent years she often had a house full with grandkids attending BYU who often came up on the weekends to eat and do laundry.  Not only did she welcome her grandkids, but she graciously hosted many of their roommates and friends too.  People felt comfortable and welcome in her home.  That is something I greatly admired in her. 

     One of her greatest traits was her commitment to service.  When I asked my Mom what she thought Grandma’s best characteristic was, she said she remembers her always actively serving others and serving the Lord.  She was a great example of a charitable woman.  An example of this was how she sacrificed to take care of her parents throughout her life.  She sacrificed her education early on in her life to take care of her mother and father when her mother got sick and then tenderly cared for her parents until the end of their lives.  I saw this first hand when I lived with Grandma and Grandpa and Great Grandma Payne.  I   know that wasn’t always easy and it was very tiring both emotionally and physically but I saw her be a dedicated and loving daughter to her mother.  I am grateful for that example of compassion.  

     Grandma had an infectious laugh and will be remembered as a cheerful, fun person that wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.  I loved that about her.

     Elva Ann Payne was her given name, but she has always gone by Ann.  She was born in Thatcher, Arizona to Ivan and Elva Payne on November 6, 1933.  Despite her health complications, she passed away peacefully on December 24, 2007 at the age of 74.  For those that didn’t know, Grandma was diagnosed 2 months ago with cancer.  She went through chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  With her previous health problems and weakened immune system, eventually her body couldn’t fight off an infection and she passed away.

     She spent most of her youth in Shelley, Idaho. She graduated from high school in Roosevelt, Utah second in her class.

     She was a diligent student of piano and organ performance and was awarded first place prize in a piano competition as a young woman.  She played the piano all her life and has recently inspired others through music in the Midvalley Assisted Living Branch.

     Her greatest accomplishment, in my opinion, was that she married William Laird Park in the Idaho Falls Temple in August of 1953.  They spent 54 years and 4 months together.   Grandpa described her to me as a loving and caring wife and mother.  They were an example of a great team.  I heard Grandma more than once remind Grandpa that she added the spice to his life and that he would be plain boring without her.  They complimented each other very well.

      She has 5 children, 20 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren that all love her dearly.  She inspired excellence in her children when they gained an education. Three sons hold Doctorate degrees and her two daughters earned a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent while raising a family.

     She supported her husband while attending 2 universities, leading to his Doctorate degree.  Utah State University awarded her a PhT degree in applied humanities (which stood for Putting Hubby Through). 

     Grandpa kept her on the move with his career.  She was a supportive wife moving across the country twice with her family.  She was born in Arizona, then moved to Idaho and Utah with her parents.  She then married and moved to California, Utah, New York, New Jersey, back to California, back to New Jersey and eventually to Utah.  Speaking as someone who only has 2 children, I admire her greatly when I realize she did all this while raising a family.

     At BYU she worked as the Office Manager of the Sports Information office for 12 years.  She thoroughly enjoyed working with the athletic leaders at BYU.  She was a true blue Cougar fan and enjoyed watching BYU sports (especially football).  She was fun to listen to while watching a game–you could hear her cheer from anywhere in the house.

     She actively donated her time and energies to provide compassionate service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  She served as Relief Society President 4 times, member of the Stake Relief Society Presidency and Stake Primary Presidency and as a stake missionary.  She was very talented musically.  She used her talents as a pianist all her life.  She served as ward or branch organist and choir director numerous times.  She started her organist service on a reed pump organ when she was only 13 years old.

     A highlight of her church service was to serve a full-time mission with her husband in the West Indies Mission.  There she managed travel arrangements for missionaries and the mission presidency.  On 32 trips she trained Relief Society and Young Women leaders in the branches while being secretary to the mission president. 

     I know that Grandma is happy and in Heaven.  I hope that no would mind if I share a personal story.  Early Christmas Eve morning my mom called to let me know that Grandma probably wouldn’t live more than a few more hours.  I was sad and crying.  I missed Grandma already.  My husband and I wondered what we should tell my two-year-old son to explain why I was crying.  We decided to be straight forward and explained “Mommy is sad because Grandma Park is going to die.  That means that she is going back to live with Jesus and Heavenly Father and we won’t get to see her for a while.  We will get to see Grandma again but Jesus needs her right now to go back and live with him.”  My little Jonathan then said, “I have a really good idea!  Let’s go say a prayer for Grandma in my room!”  So we went in his room and knelt down to say a prayer.  Jonathan wanted us to say a prayer that Grandma would be happy.  That was interesting to me because he prays for her every day but always asks for her to “not be sick” but this time he prayed that she would be happy.  Five minutes later my Dad called to say that Grandma had died.  I know that we must have been praying at almost the exact time she would have passed away.  As I thought about our simple prayer I had a strong feeling of peace.  Out of the mouths of babes we are taught—and this time the lesson was a reminder that Grandma is happy. 

     She left a beautiful legacy of family and faith.  While we will all miss her laugh, I believe with all my heart that we will get to see her again.  I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want to read a scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants Section 130.

     “When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is.  We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.  And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory which glory we do not now enjoy.”

     Isn’t that beautiful?!  Grandma was a social person that loved having her family close.  We get to have the same sociality that we have here on earth with us in the next part of our life only as promised it will be coupled with eternal glory.  What a concept!  That gives a beautiful meaning to “Families are Forever”.  That is my testimony and that is why I can go on with a smile remembering Grandma and knowing that we will be together again.  I am grateful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ that gives me this understanding.  I am indebted to my Savior for providing the way to be together again.  May we remember Grandma for her love of the Lord and her example of service and joy. 

Obituary from Deserest News

Elva Ann Payne Park  


Ann Park – Sweet Journey to Somewhere Beautiful – Elva Ann Payne Park, 74, passed away Dec. 24, 2007 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was born Nov. 6, 1933 to Ivan and Elva Payne. Ann married William L. “Bill” Park in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple on Aug. 7, 1953. Ann was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grand-mother. Her husband, Bill; five children, Leslie (John), David (Valerie), Wayne (Nancy), Andrea (Bruce), John (Jacqee); 20 grandchildren (five spouses) and seven great- grandchildren will miss her greatly. All of her family members are active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 16 have or are currently serving full-time LDS missions. At the time of her death she was serving as the Relief Society President and Pianist for the Sandy Midvalley Assisted Living Branch. She served faithfully in many other church callings including four times as a Relief Society President, church organist since she was 13 years old and a full-time mission in the West Indies with her husband, Bill. Funeral services will be held Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007 at 11 a.m. at the Sandy Midvalley 5th Ward, 1211 E. 7800 S. Friends may call Friday 6-8 p.m. at Goff Mortuary, 8090 S. State, and Saturday 9:30-10:45 a.m. at the church. Interment, Orem City Cemetery at 1:30 p.m.
Published in the Deseret News on 12/27/2007.

     I was there in the hospital when Grandma died. Grandpa Park played my CD for her while she died. My CD is called “Sweet Journey to Somewhere Beautiful”. Grandpa Park said that is exactly what she was experiencing at the time when she left this life and went on. It was a really special memory.

This is an interview that I did with Grandma Park when I was in nursing school . . .

Describe your typical day.

I wake up at 7 am, test my blood and drink orange juice. It’s hard to control my blood sugar with cancer. I read scriptures with grandpa, go out for breakfast or grandpa makes it or we just eat a peanut butter sandwich. Before the cancer, we’d take a walk. Grandpa would pick up the trash. Since I’ve been sick, I watch the Price is Right. I have a lot of doctor’s appointments. We go 1-3 times a week with cancer. We eat lunch, take a nap, and read. We are not very active now. I love to read the paper, mystery books, or historical books. In the evening we watch a lots of sports like football, basketball, and baseball. We spend time with friends. We spend lots of time at Canyon Creek. We go over there every Sunday and during the week. I haven’t  been able to go last 2 weeks. We are over there 3-4 hours every Sunday. I do visiting teaching, I get my hair done once a week. Has a hard time with my arm for 6 months. We go out to eat a couple times a week. I don’t feel like cooking. Grandpa does it. I do my own laundry, cleaning ladies come in once a week. I pays the bills to keep my hand in things. I go to bed 10:30 – midnight to watch the news and watch Perry mason on channel 11. I get ready for bed before or after we watch TV. I used to watch all of the English shows. I’ve watched almost all of the episodes of All in the Family. I tend to watch things that aren’t too heavy now. 
What does the phrase being healthy mean to you?

Doing the things that you want to do physically.
How would you describe old age?

Hell. Not fun. (Laughs) We have more money to do things but less energy and health to do it. It’s alright. Life is good. It’s just been a hard 6 months. We’ve enjoyed our retirement. (Crying).
We’ve lived here 6 years. My mom made them move here. 
What are the most important things to you?

My family, church, and faith. I try to go to the temple but hard time physically handling it.    It’s so hard. But I’m okay. I’m going to make it. 
What is your best accomplishment.

Raising my children when you think about it. They’ve all achieved a lot. Three PhD’s. Lots of musical things in my life. I sang for Worlds Fair with my stake. We had a concert in my stake that I played the organ for. I played in contests in the DeJong concert hall.   DeJong is the one that judged it. He said that it was one of the best performances of the day. I only had two months to get ready. I practiced 2-3 hours a day to get ready. I love to play the organ for church. Mission is a huge accomplishment.
All three of my sons have PhD’s and are economists. That’s sick. It’s my husband that’s made them all that way. My two daughters are super achievers. They are all active in the church. They married good people. 
What has your life been like as an adult?

I was the Relief Society President four times.  It was a lot of work. I like people. I worked for 12 years in sports media at BYU before I retired and I met lots of famous people. Dick Shap, Ty Detmer, Steve Young, Robby Bosco. I enjoyed the kids in sports at BYU. I worked with Levell Edwards.
I took care of my mother for 10 years. She’d had a stroke. It was a challenge and a good experience. Angie (her granddaughter) lived with us and helped us with Grandma Payne.  We’ve had a good life. My goal was more in support of Bill. Except now because of my sickness, he is more of a support to me.  But I was focused more on supporting him and his activities. I used to bike. I forgot about that. When I was about 50, I took up biking with my friend Virginia. We biked around Utah Lake and we biked from Bryce Canyon to Zion’s National Park. We biked half way and stopped at a motel in the middle. We went up to Jackson Hole and biked up there. Once we biked from Orem to Bluffdale on the frontage road and came back. We tried to find long bike rides. We biked up the Provo Canyon to Bridal Veil Falls. Before we biked, we would walk. We’d walk to downtown Provo. It’d take us half a day. We climbed a fence and we were lucky we weren’t caught because the police drove by. Then we decided to bike. I started out with my 3 speed and then went up to a 10 speed. Biking, walking, reading books are my hobbies. We’d walk to Provo Canyon and then walk back. One Sunday I was really upset about something. So Virginia and I walked to Will’s Pit Stop and snuck a Diet Coke and drank it in the bushes. We went to Hawaii together with Virginia and her husband. While Bill and Durant were attending meetings, Virginia and I took a bus ride from Kona to Helo and it turned out to be a school bus ride. They stopped and pickup up all of the students and let them off. We thought that it was going to be a fancy tourist ride. 
If you could share on piece of advice, what would it be?

Be slow to judge people. Many times I’d rush to judgment and then find out later that my judgment was off. 
What did you wish that you’d known about retirement before you retired?

I don’t know. It’s gone pretty much how I’d planned. I’ve been happy about the way things have gone. 
What would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?

I’ve pretty much done all of the things I’ve wanted to do. And I’m not afraid of dying, but I’m afraid of the process. The pain, weakness of the body. I wish that I could have been a better person but I’ve done the best I can. That’s how I feel. I have a lot of really good friends, support and family.


2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Personal History: Family « Chasing Sunsets and Dreams

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