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1929 Della 2015

Della LoRaine Wilkinson

December 29, 1929 — July 19, 2015

Morgan – Satisfied that her family would be safe and secure in her absence, Della LoRaine Bell Wilkinson consented to leave mortality on July 19, 2015, to join her eternal companion, John, and look for ways to serve on the other side of the veil.

A treasured gift to her parents, LoRaine fittingly was a Christmas season baby, born December 29, 1929, to Lawrence Seymore and Thelma Salmon Bell in the tiny factory town of Devil’s Slide in Morgan County.  Back then the world was small and the village was willing to raise a child. More family than residents, the bonds forged in this industrial community were unbreakable. Although she only spent the first six years of her life there before moving to the city of Morgan, LoRaine proudly counted herself a Devil’s Slide native her entire life.

With her movie star good looks and irresistible charm, LoRaine had considerable options when it came to suitors.  Passing up the prospects of a life of comfort and prosperity, LoRaine selected a lanky young man with an entrepreneurial spirit, a sense of adventure, and an infant construction company. She married John Henry Wilkinson on February 5, 1949 (later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple in 1971). The choice turned out to be a stroke of brilliance as they journeyed down life’s highway as tight partners, sometimes on the very roads built by Wilkinson Construction. That journey made a few stops along the way.  Notably to pick up a few passengers as John Bell (Debby) Wilkinson, Lory (Elwin) Birt, Nanette (John) Noyes, and Vicki (Rodney) Rose joined the family, who in turn added 18 grandchildren and 46 great-grandchildren with two more on the way.

At a time when the fledgling construction company was going through some perilous times (the challenges were plentiful and the money was not), LoRaine was drawn in to serve.  She did all she was asked and much was asked.  It seemed at every turn LoRaine was the only woman in a very man’s world of construction, willing to do everything from presenting bids to driving a dump truck.  While John was working ground with a bulldozer, LoRaine was in the basement office keeping the company from going under. While John was the face of the construction company, LoRaine was the woman behind the man allowing him to be successful.

It’s never advisable to judge a book by its cover.  Although LoRaine had a primp and pearls exterior, she was never a strawberries and cream kind of gal. Adventure fueled her fire.  Fun was something you jumped into with both feet.  From camping high on Durst mountain to jumping rocks down in Cottonwood Creek, and from motorcycles and snowmobiles, to thrill rides at Lagoon (including Colossus), LoRaine led by example.  Her children followed suit, engaging in activities that at times bent a few laws of physics, causing (for good reason) LoRaine to elevate worrying to an art form.

Music can inspire, uplift, console, and heal.  LoRaine’s abundant musical talent, cultivated from a very young age, touched many lives in many ways.  First as an accompanist for the choir and a clarinet player in the band in high school, followed by years of providing music for community events, funerals, and church services, LoRaine never sought notoriety, just an opportunity to serve.  A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LoRaine served the Savior in a variety of stake and ward callings, including as organist for as long as anyone can remember.

LoRaine was the consummate grandma, from logging frequent rail miles on the Heber Creeper with each of her 18 grandchildren, to attending literally thousands of school programs, concerts, church talks, and athletic contests.  It was important for her family to know they were important.

If service is the currency of love, LoRaine invested wisely and spent freely. At the time of her passing she was surrounded by all of her family, an incredible dividend returned on a lifetime of service rendered. LoRaine’s capacity to love family, friends, and strangers alike was amazing and endless. Hugs in return sufficiently compensated her for all that was given.

LoRaine was preceded in death by her husband, John, son-in-law, John Henry Noyes, brother, Wayne Bell, and two great-grandchildren.

The family would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the many kind hearts and helping hands who made it possible for Mom to stay at home, including Michelle, Sarah, Heather, Courtney, Hannah, and extended family.   A special thanks to Tracia Francis (an honorary member of the family), for the incredible personal level of love and tireless devotion shown in the care she provided. We are grateful for her and the infinite acts of generosity and love shown by friends, neighbors, and community members.

Funeral services will be held at the Porterville LDS church, 2700 S. Morgan Valley Dr., Morgan, on Monday, July 27th, at 11:00 a.m.  A viewing will be held also at the Porterville church on Sunday, July 26th, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and on July 27th, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.


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