Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Utah: My Grandpa Winterton's Funeral

I returned from my first Utah trip on May 4, and my sweet Grandpa Boyd Winterton passed away on May 7.  Andy and I hopped back on a plane and went back to Utah for the funeral.  We stayed from May 10-14.  I'm so glad we went!  The flights were a bit of a challenge, and it's always hard to travel alone with Andy, but it was such a blessing to be able to go back.  My sister Christine flew in from Ohio--it was so wonderful to spend time with her.  I hadn't seen her since August and had never met her adorable son Sam, my first nephew!  The weekend happened to overlap with Mother's Day; I can't remember the last time we could all be together to celebrate with my mom.  Plus, my cousin Stephen got married while we were there.  Basically, it ended up being a wonderful time to visit.  I got to spend time with family members I rarely see.  I got to play the piano at my Grandpa's funeral.  The funeral and burial were emotional for me, but not in a sad kind of way.  My grandpa was nearly ninety, and he'd been suffering for a few years and hadn't been himself.  I'm so grateful to know that he's in a better, more comfortable place.  It was a really special weekend to be able to reflect on the special, wonderful man my Grandpa was and is.  I'm so grateful I was able to be there.  

I was blessed to live within thirty minutes of my Grandpa essentially my whole life, so I spent lots of time with him: birthday dinners, Christmases, piano competitions and recitals, cabin sunday dinners, vacations in Teton Village at the Hostel, 4th of July Breakfasts, and lots more.  Things I want to remember about him:  He was the life of the party.  He had a magnificent presence.  He loved to sing Camelot songs along with the eight-track recording up at the cabin.  I remember his long, florid, speech-like prayers, which really were so beautiful, even though we loved to giggle.  I remember him always looking at my sisters and me and saying, "There's a word for this: pulchritude!" I remember how he always said, "Bravo!" after I played the piano.  I remember how he loved telling his pink-a ice cream story.  (Which I still don't understand?) He never let anything go to waste; once he drank my leftover cereal milk when I was going to throw it out.  He loved his country and was fiercely patriotic.  I remember him coming down the stairs with his random Christmas gifts, like toothpaste, every Christmas Eve with his "Ho Ho Ho!" I remember him reading the nativity as the grandkids acted it out.  When asking me about my life, he always asked how things were on the fast track.  I remember his scratchy kisses on my cheek from his stubble.  He was a tender, sweet, lively, intelligent, spiritual, successful man, and I'm honored to call him Grandpa.  

A few pictures to remember him:
I'll always remember him in his Christmas getup. 
On my way to England! Doesn't he look handsome here?
Andy with his Great-Grandpa Boyd.  Have you ever seen a more beautiful head of white hair?
Pictures from the trip: 
My mom with all her siblings and my Grandma at the viewing.  Reid, Paul, Ann, Vern, Grandma, Dale, and my beautiful mom Jean.
My mom and Grandma Bonnie.
Cousin picture at the cemetery in Charleston. 

Andy and I on Mother's Day.  So grateful to be this sweet boy's mom!
Me and my beautiful sisters!
Andy loves his Grandpa!  By the way, have you ever seen such a fit and young looking 55 year old? 
Cousins!  Andy and Sam.  
Christine and I with our boys.
I don't expect anyone to read the rest of this, but I want to document it somewhere.  My cousin Jessica wrote this fantastic life sketch about my Grandpa based on a series of interviews she conducted with him a few years ago.  I learned so much about him as it was read at his funeral and want to have it recorded somewhere so I can always re-read it and remember my Grandpa.  

Boyd W. Winterton's Life Sketch

Boyd "W" Winterton was born on August 11, 1923 to Sheila Ann Carlile and Thomas Fredrich Winterton. He was born inside a little red-brick home in Charleston, Utah - the second home in all of Heber Valley to have indoor plumbing.  

Boyd was the fourth of five children – Velda, Neil, Dale, and “Beautiful Wilma” as he liked to called her. 

His childhood home occupied about 200 acres in Charleston, Utah and his father used this land for farming, raising dairy cows, and cattle ranching. Boyd – being the youngest of the boys – was in charge of the dairy cows and learned the value of working hard at a very early age.

(In fact, when he was five he thought he should be off to do bigger and better things.  He told his mom he was leaving and she said, “Well, I’d better make you a sandwich”.  She packed a lunch for him and asked him where he would sleep that night.  He told her he would be fine in a pasture somewhere… but around dusk he started remembering his room and turned around and came home)

Although his childhood overlapped the great depression, Boyd never felt like his family was touched by the turmoil that gripped the rest of the nation. Since his family always grew or raised their own food, the depression didn’t seem to affect their life in Charleston.  When asked about it, he often said, “What great depression?” 

But his childhood was touched by other tragedies.  When Boyd was about five or six years old, his older brother Dale died of pneumonia (9).  And when Boyd was only 14, his father, who had never fully recovered from a bought of flu, became ill and died. Boyd was close to his father and that death forced him to grow up very quickly. His father’s passing also took a heavy toll on Boyd’s mother whose own father had died only two weeks earlier. Not long after the deaths, she sold the family’s farm and moved to Mesa, Arizona. Boyd finished out his sophomore year at Wasatch High School while living with his uncle Leo and then moved to Arizona to be with the family.

In spite of being the new kid in town, Boyd thrived in Mesa. It was while attending Mason (Mesa?) Union High School that he recognized his knack for politics. He became Mesa’s mayor for a day and was a member of the National Honor Society. After graduating high school in 1941, he went on to become the Freshman and Sophomore president at Arizona State College. He was also actively involved in his fraternity – Lambda Phi Sigma and planned to become student body president during his senior year… but it was war time and 1942 brought different plans.

Because of his good grades and the skill he demonstrated in his business courses – a Naval recruiter visiting the college recommended that he be transferred to a business school in Flagstaff where he enlisted and represented the Navy on the Student Council. Boyd was quickly recognized for his aptitude in business and was given orders to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Business as a representative of the Navy. If he passed the first semester he would be made an officer… if not, he would be sent to boot camp. Boyd described his time at Harvard as “pure hell”. At one point he went to one of his professors – George Albert Smith, Jr. (who also happened to be his Sunday school teacher) and said, “I’m really struggling… do you think I’m supposed to be here?” Professor Smith said, “Good, Good.  Welcome to the club Boyd.  I had my bags packed to go home have a dozen times before I graduated. If the Navy thinks you can cut it… you’re supposed to be here.  Now get to work.”  Boyd passed, became a junior officer, and went on to complete his education there. Years later, he became the president of the Harvard Business School Club of Utah (65-66).

Boyd remained at Harvard during the final years of combat and didn’t travel overseas with the military until 1945… conducting business for the Naval supply depots in New Guinea, Australia and China. He loved these years with the Navy and came back with fantastic stories of his travels. Boyd did well in the military was offered a position as a senior supply officer… but he had other plans -  he was ready to get married. In 1946, he returned stateside to finish out his years of active duty.

Boyd went to BYU to receive a Masters in Business and was made a member of the prestigious Blue Key Honor Society.  It was there that he met Bonnie Jean Moesser… the “Bell of the Y” and his roommate’s girlfriend. In fact Boyd may have paid for a few of their dates since he often offered his checkbook to roommates “in need”. His roommate spoke so highly of him… that Bonnie eventually dated Boyd. While dating she would call up his apartment and ask to talk to the “Sea Daddy” – a nickname given to him by his roommates.  They loved it when she called.

Bonnie and Boyd dated for six months and were married in the Idaho Falls LDS temple on August 15, 1951. Boyd always claimed that winning Bonnie’s hand was his life’s most important achievement.  
The couple lived in Clearfield, Utah where Boyd served during the first years of the Korean War.  It was there that their first child, Vern, was born in 1952. In Boyd’s words – a “beautiful big baby boy.”   Boyd says he was never nervous about becoming a father, just excited.  

Boyd retired from Active Duty in 1953, but continued his life-long relationship with the military by remaining in the reserves. After leaving active duty, Boyd and Bonnie purchased their first home in Salt Lake City, UT… with a mortgage of $65 per month. In 1954, their daughter, Ann, was born-.the first of his “D.D’s” as he called them – his “Darling Daughters”.

He began his business career in the civilian world by joining the Burroughs Corporation – a computer sales company. His natural skill with people helped him excel in sales and Boyd was even credited with selling the University of Utah their first major computer. He would remain with the Burroughs Corporation for the next 17 years.  

During these years he was transferred twice:  once to Provo in 1955 - where Dale, Reed, and Jean were born, and once in 1960, back to Salt Lake, where they moved into their final home in Millcreek. It was here that their 6th and last child, Paul, was born. 

The birth of four boys made one of his passions even more enjoyable.  Boyd loved the boy scouts of America and served in different positions throughout his life – including 17 years as the Scouts’ Medical Explorer Post Chairman. He earned his Eagle Scout and was awarded the Silver Beaver for all his volunteer work as an adult. But his favorite memories from this time were of taking his sons up to Strawberry Reservoir and floating along on a big rubber raft.  

While Boyd was successful in his work with the Burroughs Corporation, his real life calling was fulfilled when he became a Chaplain for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. For 25 years he served as Hospital Chaplain for the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The last 17 of those years, he was Chief of Chaplains Service - simultaneously filling the rolls of counselor, spiritual advisor, and funeral officiator for veterans and their families.  

One of Commander Winterton’s greatest life honors was being elected to serve under two U.S. presidents as the National Chaplain to the VFW and twice as National Chaplain of Reserve Officers Association. He took his roll as spiritual advisor to about 2.2 million US veterans very seriously and loved these years of dedicated service. (elected 1987-88, reelected 1991-92.)

But his legacy of service didn’t end there. His devotion to those in need began in his early childhood. During the Great Depression his mother gained a reputation of kindness among the homeless railroad tramps.  Two or three times a week, they would make their way from the train cars to her home where she would bring them a meal of giblets and gravy. (She always told Boyd, “You never know… these tramps might be one of the three Nephites).

Boyd followed this example throughout his life and served the homeless for 10 years as a member of the Salt Lake City Ministerial Association. He received the American “In God We Trust” Family Medal from the Family Foundation of America”. He served for six years on the board of the American Red Cross and received the Clara Barton award – the organization’s highest award for service.  Boyd also spent nine years as a member of the Catholic Holy Cross Hospital Pastoral Board. 

From a very early age, Boyd had a strong belief in God and Jesus Christ. This awareness was manifest not only in his public service, but also in service within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Boyd never served a mission because the year he would have been called was the year we went to war. He received a letter from his bishop in ’42 saying that no mission calls were being issued, but that he would serve a mission for his nation. But Boyd went on to be of great service to his church in other ways - has served as Bishop for one ward, in three Bishoprics, in one stake presidency, in three High Councils, and twice as Ward Clerk, in addition to numerous other Priesthood and Auxiliary positions.  He and Bonnie also served together on the General Music Committee and the Temple Square Concert Series Committee. In 2004, Boyd Winterton was honored by Brigham Young University as one of its most outstanding alumni.

Boyd Winterton had a gift for connecting with people. He was as comfortable associating with U.S. presidents as he was with the many homeless veterans who crossed his path – kind, compassionate, and generous to each. He will be missed.

He is survived by wife, Bonnie; children, Vern Winterton, Ann Harrington, Dale Winterton, Reed Winterton, Jean Messick, and Paul Winterton; Sister, Wilma, as well as 27 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren… with three more on the way.


  1. So glad you got to come back and be part of your Grandpa's funeral! He sounds like a wonderful grandpa and how lucky to have so many memories with him! I love the picture with you and all your sisters! Your nephew is adorable, I'm glad you got to finally see him!

  2. I loved this post.... I loved reading your memories of grandpa! Such a special man. It was sooo fun to be with you guys!