Gregory Maxwell Folsom, 77, passed away January 5, 2022, at 7:25 a.m. at Bennion Veterans Home in Payson, Utah. He had a post-hospital appointment with his heart surgeon on that morning with great progress to report about his physical therapy. Greg had had quadruple bypass surgery at the Veteran’s Hospital in Salt Lake City on October 21, 2021. After complications that required a month in ICU, he was released to Bennion Veterans facility with his heart working excellently, but his legs and hands weakened from the prolonged inactivity in the ICU. He was making excellent progress and was determined to walk out of rehab and return to his apartment at the Seville in Orem, Utah by the end of February. On the morning of January 5, Greg dressed, ate breakfast, and spoke to the staff. He was waiting in the lobby near the door for transportation to his appointment. The receptionist noticed that his head was leaning back, and she thought that he had fallen asleep. She tried to wake him, but he did not awaken.
Greg Folsom was born on September 26, 1944, in St. Anthony’s Hospital in Wenatchee, Washington. However, the family home was in the idyllic Cascade Mountain Valley of Leavenworth, where my father operated a dairy farm. He joined a family with one older brother and one older sister, cousins in the house across the driveway, a creek nearby, and mountains across the road where they all played.
Shortly after Greg’s fifth birthday, this ideal bucolic life ended abruptly when his family moved to Ephrata, Washington, where his father would have steady employment. At age five, he was enrolled in kindergarten and continued in the Ephrata School system for the next twelve years.
In 7th grade, patterns began to form that would define Greg’s future. His first choice was to join the band, becoming a full-blown band geek playing the French Horn which he loved. His favorite recordings were the Horn Concertos by Mozart, favorites his entire life.
Second, he pursued his interest in mathematics and noticed the close relationship between math and music. Throughout junior and senior high school, Greg took every math and science class that was offered, knowing that this was a direction he wanted to take in his life. In a special seminar that the high school principal offered to a small group of super-math nerds, Greg learned about a new concept that was just beginning to emerge: the computer. It was just in its infancy, but something told him it might be something to investigate.
In Greg’s junior and senior years of high school, he was selected to be Student Director of the Concert Band. In this position, he gained his love of conducting music. During his senior year, he was nominated and selected for the USA High School Band. Immediately following graduation, the band left for a concert tour of Europe, performing in Nice and Paris, France, Rome and Venice, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and London ending at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Upon his return from Europe and armed with an Honors Program scholarship to Brigham Young University to study mathematics, he was ready to embark on the next phase of his life!
College life was everything Greg had hoped it would be. Who would have thought Advanced Calculus would be that exciting? To keep up with his musical interests, he auditioned for and was accepted into Men’s Chorus. The highlight of that year was a concert tour to California for an appearance at a national music educators convention. Many years later, after he moved into the Seville, he met another resident who also had participated in that tour.
Following freshman year, Greg was called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Mission headquartered in London. He served there for two years, meeting many people who would remain lifelong friends.
Upon return to BYU, Greg changed his major to Physics, thinking this was a profession more likely to result in long-term employment than pure mathematics. The highlight of this year was being introduced to Christy at my home ward in Ephrata at Christmas. Greg and Christy began their relationship in January, became engaged in April, and were married in September of 1966. Returning to BYU, they lived the prototypical married student existence … a basement apartment in rural Orem!
During the summer following Greg’s junior year at BYU, he received another call to serve. However, this time it was a letter from President Lyndon B. Johnson inviting him to join in the country’s military efforts. After quickly reviewing options for avoidance, Greg found himself on a train headed for Fort Lewis, Washington, for Basic Training, then to Fort Ord, California, for Advanced Training as a telephone wireman with ultimate orders for Vietnam.
Prior to departing to Vietnam, Greg’s father gave him a priesthood blessing and assured him that if he were to remain faithful, he would be able to return home unharmed. Not sure he had that faith, on New Year’s Day 1968, he left for Vietnam expecting that he would not return alive. After he arrived, Greg was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, guarding the northern approaches to the capital city of Saigon. His initial assignment was to an artillery battalion located in the mountains near the Cambodian border, so he was surprised when the processing clerk, who had noted Greg’s college background, asked him if he would be interested in working in the Division Headquarters office instead. What an offer and a hope of survival! Of course, he accepted.
The calmness and perceived safety of office work was forever disrupted three weeks later by the Tet Offensive of January 1968. After this, even office workers were expected to participate in security missions in the nearby jungle areas on a regular basis. Greg’s fear of non-survival returned. He even knew exactly how he would die … a bullet through the brain. In November, near the end of his tour, Greg was on a security patrol with a squad of military police when they came under intense enemy fire. Years later, he said that he could still hear the whine and feel the rush of air as the bullet, intended for him, sped past his left ear. He knew instantly that his father’s blessing would be fulfilled, and he would be returning home unharmed.
On New Year’s Day 1969, Greg returned home with a Bronze Star and a heavy coating of Agent Orange to an ungrateful nation as a reward for his efforts. Unlike today’s servicemen returning from far wars to welcoming arms and greetings of “Thank you for your service,” it would be 33 years before Greg heard those words uttered in his behalf, whether by family, friend, or stranger.
Returning to BYU was anti-climactic. Rather than return to a basement or an apartment dwelling near campus, they chose to purchase their first home in Pleasant Grove. Soon after getting settled in the local ward, he was called to be Ward Music Director, beginning a lifetime of service in music in church. In school, he again changed majors, at long last heeding the call of computers first heard in high school. Majoring in computer science, Greg prepared for a lifelong career in what is now called Information Science. In 1971, Greg and Christy, both armed with degrees from BYU, headed to Oregon to begin the next phase of life.
Arriving in Oregon, they began the business of establishing careers and family. Greg began working for a small software company that was soon bought out by a large international corporation, ADP Dealer Services, where he worked developing software applications for the automobile dealer industry for the next 25 years.
Settling first in Woodburn, Oregon, Marc was the first child born in 1972. Two years later, having moved into Portland on Kelly Street, Erin made her appearance. Soon, Greg and his family moved into their final home on Southeast 21st Avenue where David arrived, completing the family. Inspired by his father, Maxwell Folsom, a talented designer and carpenter who constantly remodeled Greg’s childhood home, Greg continued the tradition of continual remodeling projects on the 21st Avenue house.
In 1980, just as they completed a massive remodeling project, a lifetime career opportunity arose. The European partners at ADP were interested in utilizing software that Greg had been instrumental in developing, and he was offered a two-year transfer to the Netherlands, relocating the family to Rotterdam. Here he worked while the rest of the family absorbed local Dutch culture, learned the language, and expanded their appreciation of the world that has been valuable for the rest of their lives.
Returning to the U.S., the next years were filled with work, yes, but mostly with the joys of a growing family: little league baseball, acting lessons, horse riding and care, football, basketball, soccer (the only activity that all three had in common), vacations to Disneyland, Scouts, music lessons and concerts, professional theater performances followed by late-night pizza, school and church events, and countless other activities.
Activity in the church continued to play a large role in Greg’s life. He seemed to continually rotate through Elders Quorum President (three times), ward clerk, executive secretary, and of course, Ward Music Director and Choir Leader multiple times. He always tried to stay close to the music he loved.
As with all good things, an end eventually came as the kids all grew up and headed off to college to begin their own new lives. As the nest emptied, Christy also left for New York City to pursue her doctorate degree at Columbia University. This eventually spelled the end of the marriage, as her career led her to stay in New York.
Divorcing in 2001, Greg also decided a change of scenery was needed and relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. Here he tried a new career, as an award-winning kitchen designer at Home Depot, utilizing all those skills learned at the hands of his father and with the home remodeling in Portland.
It was in Phoenix that Greg met Joyce, with whom he shared 13 years, eventually marrying. They enjoyed traveling around the country and especially enjoyed taking cruises. As Greg became again involved in church activity, he was thrilled to serve as Ward Music Director once again.
Following Joyce’s passing in 2018 and with his health faltering, Greg decided it was time for another move. He settled in Orem, Utah at The Seville, which has been his home for his last years. Once again, he was pleased to be called as Branch Music Director, in his final opportunity to serve.
Greg’s life was blessed with many friends and family who meant much to him. He was father to Marc, Erin and David Folsom and beloved grandfather to Elisabeth, Holland (Marc and Jenny) and Leroy (David and Jenn). He is predeceased by his parents Maxwell and Marjorie Folsom, brother Philip Folsom, and wife Joyce Adair Folsom. He is survived by siblings Sandra, Diane, Marianne, Brad, and Lisa, more nieces and nephews than you can count, and long-standing friend, life companion and former wife, Christy Tabert Folsom.
Memorial services will be held on Monday, January 24, 2022 at 11:00 am at Sundberg-Olpin Mortuary, located at 495 South State Street, Orem with a visitation held from 10:15-10:45 that morning prior to the services. Interment will be at 2:00 at the Utah Veterans Cemetery in Bluffdale, Utah.
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