Paul Ballard Wakefield slipped through the birth we call death on November 27, 2023, after a strong effort to recover from a broken femur. He was born to Theo L. Wakefield and Elizabeth Bischoff in St Louis, his mother’s hometown, on December 28, 1938. In old pictures, his parents were visibly proud of their first and oldest child of a family that came to include one brother and three sisters. His first years were spent in St Louis as well as other cities where his father’s work took him. As a young teenager, his family moved to Salt Lake City, UT, near his father’s hometown. While attending Olympus High School, he received a full scholarship to Stanford University to study Electrical Engineering, and he moved to California at age seventeen to pursue this golden opportunity. He very quickly learned that his easy “A” grades in high school did not come so easily at Stanford University.
On a summer trip back to Salt Lake City in 1959, Paul met Bonnie Stark. He and Bonnie maintained a long distance relationship through letters, and he chose to leave Stanford to marry her in 1960. Soon after, they both returned to the Bay Area so he could return to school. We were all so proud when he graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Over the next ten years, Paul and Bonnie continued living in the Bay Area, where he began his career in Electrical Engineering. During this time, he helped make parts for the video cameras used in the first Apollo lunar missions. More importantly, he and Bonnie started a family with Wendy Jo and Daniel Allen, both born in the Bay Area. Paul and Bonnie chose to raise their compact California-family in the Latter-day Saint religion of their ancestors, with Paul being baptized in his late twenties.
Paul and Bonnie moved back to Utah to be near their families and for him to take an employment opportunity at the electronic manufacturing company Signetics Corporation, which opened a plant in Orem. In Orem, Paul and Bonnie grew their small California-family into a big Utah-family, adding four more children: Todd, Joey, Amy, and Andy. Paul’s work as an electrical engineer almost pulled him back to California, but a conversation with a neighbor and good friend Darel Conrad made Paul suddenly change his mind. Instead, Paul chose to remain in Orem to raise his family, requiring a career change; at this time he became a financial advisor, which he did for the remainder of his career. Paul lived in the same home and Sunset Heights 6th Ward for over 50 years until his death. Paul never regretted his decision to remain in Utah, prioritizing his family and community over his career even though there were more promising professional opportunities in California.
Paul was an extremely hard worker, curious learner, devout LDS church member, and committed family man. He loved BYU football, history, genealogy, boating trips to Lake Powell, spending time with and traveling to see family, ward activities, and ice cream. He loved watching his boys playing baseball or any other sport and would not miss a game. Above all else, he valued spending time with his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sisters and brother, and larger family. His loyalty and support of his family was constant and unwavering. His young grandchildren, with their unconditional love and lack of judgement, brought some of the greatest joy to his life. Over the last year, he was aware of his approaching mortality and never failed to express his love and support for his family. And he was an optimist to the end, saying he was doing “great” even as he was clearly dying. Those who truly knew Paul well and his support and love for his family will be reminded of what is truly most important in their own lives.
Paul is survived by: his wife Bonnie Stark; three sisters Mary Beth Williams, Susan (Gary) Winters, and Ellen Grundvig; four children Todd (Elizabeth), Joey (Alisa), Amy Draper, and Andy; and 14 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren (with more on the way). He is preceded in death by his brother Richard Warren, his two children Wendy Jo and Daniel Allen, and his grandson Aaron James.
By his wishes, Paul will be cremated. Visiting and Condolences will be from 11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. with funeral services following will be held on Saturday, December 2, 2023, at 1 p.m. in the Sunset Heights 6th Ward LDS Chapel located at 500 South 600 West, Orem, UT 84058.
Our family would like to extend our sincerest thank you for all those who have befriended Paul over the years and for those who have provided support and comfort to Paul and his family over the past year and a half. Our family will be eternally grateful to all of you. Thanks for everything, Dad—We Love You!