Our beloved mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend, Merlene Yonk Johnson, completed her earthly life on July 29th. She loved her life and battled hard against cancer in her last year here with us.
Merlene was born in Logan, Utah, on May 3, 1937, the daughter of Merlin and Blanche Yonk. She was the first of six children and spent her childhood growing up on the family farm in Petersboro, Utah. She had many great years there with her 3 sisters and 2 brothers and absolutely loved being a farm girl. She tromped hay, took cows to pasture, and snuck in time reading between her chores. She especially enjoyed when the family would go “up the crick” for a picnic. Merlene put some of these early experiences to paper, as she wrote several children’s books based on her adventures on the farm.
In addition to loving farm life, Merlene also loved to learn. She spent her early education in a one-room schoolhouse before moving on to South Cache High. There, she excelled and eventually graduated as the Valedictorian for the Class of ‘55. She treasured the lifelong friendships that she made during this time. And, most importantly, along the way she also met a handsome guy from Paradise, Wes Johnson, in seminary class. The King and Queen of the Sweetheart’s Ball graduated and continued dating while they both attended Utah State University. Merlene enjoyed learning about many subjects, with chemistry being a favorite. She went on to graduate in 1959 with a teaching degree in Home Economics. After four years of courting, Wes and Merlene were married in the Logan Temple on August 7, 1959. They would spend 62 unforgettable years together, working hard and creating a wonderful life for their family.
Merlene and Wes’s early years were spent in Ogden then Sandy, with Merlene teaching at a junior high for a year until the birth of their first daughter. She then put all those home economics skills to use in her own home. The couple eventually settled back in Cache Valley, where the rest of their five children were born and where Wes built Merlene her dream house. While Wes built houses, Merlene made those houses into homes. The family home for the past 40 years was a wonderful place to grow up, as it has been filled with love and surrounded by dear neighbors and friends. She truly was the heart of our home and as her children, we are honored to have her as our mother.
Merlene had a strong testimony of the gospel and was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She served in a variety of callings, including president of the Young Women and Relief Society at the ward and stake levels. She also loved her time spent at USU with the Lambda Delta Sigma church sorority program and working with the American Mothers Association. Merlene put her heart into every calling and those efforts paid off. Many meaningful friendships and experiences were had as the result of her church service. She loved the gospel and its many blessings.
Merlene is survived by her 6 children, Teresa (Craig) Smith, Wesley Dee (Dayna), Jennifer (Kimball) Fife, Timothy (Jenny), Benjamin (Stacy) and Matthew (Jennie Lynn), as well as her 22 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren, all of whom she dearly loved and cherished. She is also survived by her siblings, Richard (Nancy) Yonk, Judy (Peter) Maughan, Linda Batterman, and Reed (Kyle) Yonk. She was preceded in death by her sweet husband, Wes; her parents, Merlin and Blanche Yonk; a sister, Becky Hadfield; and a baby granddaughter, Rachel.
Our mom was truly amazing, and we have so many reasons to love her. Merlene was creative and loved to use her mind, whether solving a crossword puzzle, beating her grandchildren at a game of Settlers, or planning a ward or family event. Education and learning were important to her and she loved knowing her 6 children and many grandchildren had followed in her footsteps by becoming college graduates. Gathering her family was a main priority, with yearly Bear Lake trips, countless evenings at the family cabin, and legendary Sunday dinners. One of her favorite gathering spots was her own backyard, surrounded by the beautiful flower gardens she worked hard in each spring and summer. She truly loved those flowers and the other beautiful things found in nature. She was the party queen and had our father wondering if she made up new holidays simply so she could plan another party. She also took time to celebrate the little things in the lives of her family and friends—she sent cards and gifts for every birthday, piano recital, and school achievement. Our mom loved and cared for our father through his own health difficulties, and she is a great example to us of patience and dedication. Knowing they are together once more brings us much happiness.
Services are under the direction of Allen-Hall Mortuary. Merlene’s life will be celebrated with a viewing on Thursday, August 4th from 6:00-8:00 at the mortuary and on August 5th, with a viewing from 10:30-11:30 at the church house on 500 N. and 100 E., Logan. Services celebrating her life will begin 12 p.m. Burial will follow at the Logan Cemetery.
The family would like to thank the medical professionals who helped Merlene this past year as well as family, neighbors and friends who kindly visited, brought meals and simply showed her love.
Mom, you are truly unforgettable. We love you dearly. What a wonderful life!
If you weren't able to attend the funeral services for Merlene, there is a video recording of the funeral service. You can access the video of it by clicking on the link below:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE FUNERAL SERVICES
Also, you may be able to listen or download the audio recording of it by clicking on the following link:
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE AUDIO RECORDING