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Ila (Mower) LarsenJune 2, 1920 ~ April 18, 2017 (age 96)
Ila Mower Larsen, age 96, of Orem, Utah, passed away peacefully while in the care of loving family on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in Orem. She was born June 2, 1920, in Fairview, Utah, to Heber LaVern Mower and Ethyl Louisa Stewart. She married Don Hyrum Larsen on August 14, 1941, in the Logan LDS temple. He preceded her in death January 18, 1995.
Ila, her sister, and four brothers grew up on a dry-land grain farm where her parents raised cattle and taught their children the value of work and resourcefulness. As a child, she rode in a wagon each Monday morning “over West” where her family camped for the week, feeding and herding cattle and raising wheat and hay. On weekends, they returned to the family home that was made of stone salvaged from the old Fort Bend in Fairview. When at home, they cultivated a large garden, harvested, and preserved produce for year-round use. As a youth and college student, Ila had a summer job managing beehives; and in later years, she gave tins of honey as Christmas gifts to recall her earlier employment.
Ila graduated from North Sanpete High School and attended BYU. Ila and Don traveled for Don’s education and work to Madison, Wisconsin; Terre Haute, Indiana; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Salt Lake City, Utah; and settled in Orem, Utah, as Don joined the Bacteriology faculty at BYU. Ila taught at Grandview Elementary School in Provo for 28 years. Education was always a significant priority to both Ila and Don. All of their grandchildren graduated from college and have pursued a variety of professional careers.
Ila was active in the LDS Church, serving many years as organist, choir member, teacher, and doing ancestral vital records extraction. For many years, she attended the temple weekly.
Ila was recognized and interviewed by the Deseret News for having extracted over one million names with her family history records research service for the LDS Church. She was surprised the number was so high and didn’t really want public recognition for that accomplishment. Her extraction experiences began when she and her husband, Don, were called on a service mission. When she started name extraction work, methodology and technology were evolving through three decades, and she adapted several times to keep up. Ila remembered receiving rolls of microfilms in the mail and working regularly eight hours a day in the basement of her stake center, scanning hard-to-read vital records about people she never knew. Next, she worked on a computer, though she never considered herself competent with one except for name extractions. She learned to read and work in several languages. While working with Ellis Island immigrant records, she discovered that Benito Mussolini had been detained and denied entry. She was intrigued with finding interesting details of someone’s story. She also arbitrated researcher discrepancies and mentored others. Even while traveling to other states and foreign countries, she visited family history centers to do extraction work there.
Music has always been an important part of Ila’s life. She memorized and sang hymns at home and in ward choirs from youth to her older 80’s. During annual family Christmas nativity programs, she persisted in singing every single verse of each Christmas carol or hymn. She played piano and organ in her Fairview ward and at her homes in Orem. Ila tried to attend all the musical performances of her children and grandchildren.
Ila participated in piloting the LDS Teacher Development program. A group of ward members were assigned to take the teacher development class from her. The group met at the church or in her home. Ila prepared carefully, assuring that each member received all materials of every lesson. If anyone missed a class, Ila would go to their home and present the lesson, helping each class member continue their progress.l
Ila harvested thousands of peaches and apples from her orchard and contributed many of them to family, friends, and those in need. She grew a yearly vegetable garden and raspberries and grapes. She collected recipes and loved to try them with her home grown produce. She was well remembered for broccoli salad, zesty cole slaw, leafy green salad, Danish raspberry delight, and apple crisp.
Ila was a skilled seamstress and learned tailoring in high school. Her mother taught her to sew with a foot treadle sewing machine, and she sewed most of her own clothing as a teenager. She continued sewing for family and friends. When she was teaching school, she sometimes noticed that a student or student teacher was in need of a warmer jacket; so, she took it home with her and returned it the next day, with a new warm lining in the jacket!
Ila loved flowers and her home and yard were filled with lovely varieties. She often harvested her own seeds at the end of the growing season and used them to plant the following year.
Ila loved both working and playing outdoors, enjoying the majesties of nature. From the time of her childhood when she helped on the family farm, she grew strong, determined, and resilient. She pulled hundreds of thousands of weeds and knew the correct name and variety of every one. She enjoyed adventuring with Don: fishing in lakes and oceans in the sea-worthy big boat; rock-hunting and jeeping in southern Utah when the Burr trail was still rough, rocky, steep and scary; visiting Thailand, China (climbing on the Great Wall), Israel, Egypt, many European countries, and most states of the US.
In 2010, at ninety years of age, Ila was cited by Governor Gary Herbert for her contributions to community and families. Ila recognized the needs of others and quietly assisted, avoiding recognition. Her life is an example to us of service and humility.
Ila is survived by two of her three children, Marilyn (LeGrand) Baker, Lloyd Don (Joyce) Larsen, 12 grandchildren, 32 great grandchildren, and her brother Morris (Annetta) Mower. She was preceded in death by her son Wayne Hyrum Larsen; her sister, Cleo Spencer, and brothers Marvin, Royal, and Glade Mower.
Funeral services honoring and celebrating Ila’s life will be held Friday, April 28, 2017, in the Cherry Hill 9th Ward chapel at 135 East 2000 South, Orem, at 11:00 a.m. Friends are invited to greet the family at the Sundberg-Olpin Mortuary, 495 South State Street, Orem, on Thursday, April 27, 2017, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and on Friday at the church from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the LDS Church missionary fund.
Condolences may be expressed to the family on this page.