Our dad’s beautiful wife and our beloved, angel, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and dear friend, Winona Capener Gardner, passed away peacefully on May 20, 2021, surrounded by her family. Her heart was worn out as she loved and served for 94 years.
Winona was born, the oldest of seven children, on February 3, 1927, in Garland, Utah, to Russell Cleveland Capener and Mildred Strong Capener. She was named after one of her mother’s best friends. Mom grew up in Riverside and attended the Riverside school, grades 1-4. She was one of the “Blacksheep” group of friends from Riverside (Doris Hadfield Roche, Luana Tingey Richins, Joyce Capener Cornwall, Mary Jensen Adams, Sharon Hales Richins, Mickey (Maurine) Capener Sorenson, and Doris Forsberg Smith), and they remained life-long friends. She attended Garland school, grades 5-8, and graduated from Bear River High School in 1945. Mom worked at the Bushnell Hospital in Brigham City for a year to save money to go to school. She attended Utah State Agricultural College in Logan for one year, where she roomed with Doris Hadfield. They kept their milk on the window sill to stay cool for their cereal and warmed up a can of soup for dinner on a hotplate in their room to save money so they could afford to eat supper at the cafeteria. The next year, Mom attended LDS Business College in Salt Lake City. Mom met Dad, Keith Alphonzo Gardner, of Deweyville, on a blind date and after dating for almost a year, they were married, June 10, 1948. Together they had four children: Alan (Christine), Brian (Cindy), Carrie (Bryan) Buchanan, and Darcie (David) Allan. We are so grateful to Mom that because of her testimony of the Savior and His Atonement and the plan of salvation, and her amazing example, our family was sealed together for time and all eternity in the Logan Temple on April 26, 1968. Dad passed away October 29, 1994, at the age of 70, after a seven-year battle with colon cancer, leaving Mom without her eternal companion for almost 27 years.
Mom and Dad first lived in Riverside and then moved to Moab for 8 years, where Dad found work. Once the work ran out, they moved back to Riverside, where they raised their family and resided for the remainder of their lives. Mom loved being a stay-at-home wife and mother, but after 17 years, it became financially necessary for her to work outside the home. She worked at the Bear River Valley Hospital and then at Farmers Home Administration and retired at age 63. However, this did not mean that she was any less attentive to us children. Our projects were her projects, our heartaches were her heartaches, and if something was important to us, then it was important to her. She worked all day and then came home and cooked delicious meals so we could sit down together as a family each evening. Then she spent the rest of the evening helping us with our homework and just spending time with us. She always supported us in all of our activities and was our greatest champion!
Mom always served by example in many callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including Primary, Sunday School and Relief Society. She especially enjoyed serving with Dad as ordinance workers in the Logan Temple and in the Tremonton Nursing Home Branch Presidency. She was a co-chair in the Fielding Stake extraction program for nine years and through their dedication and hard work, the Fielding Stake had the highest extraction record in the Church for one of those years. She was always a faithful visiting teacher/ministering angel in the Belmont II Ward and touched many lives. Mom had a very firm testimony of our Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ, which will be felt by future generations. At the tender age of seventy-seven, Mom served an eighteen-month mission at Temple Square for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which she absolutely loved. And, when she was eighty-eight, she upgraded and bought a new computer so she could continue to do indexing for the Church’s “Family Search” program.
Mom enjoyed traveling many places including Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, the Book of Mormon lands (Guatemala and Honduras), Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, autumn in New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire), many American history sites back east, and many Church History sites (Martin’s Cove, Winter Quarters, Far West, Liberty Jail, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Nauvoo, Carthage Jail, Kirtland, and Palmyra). And, she loved attending the temple in many of those locations.
Mom enjoyed her association with the “Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.” She loved to read, watch Perry Mason and Hallmark movies, admire the beautiful flowers in her yard, watch for hummingbirds and orioles at her bird feeders, and work on her personal and family histories. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were her greatest accomplishment and her greatest joy. Nothing brightened her day more than a phone call or a visit from her family or friends. Mom has 19 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.
Mom taught us many wonderful things. She taught us the Golden Rule and to always be kind and to be friends with everyone. She taught us how to work and save money and to never buy anything on credit. She taught us to be honest and to have integrity. She taught us to be dependable and reliable—if we said we would do something, then we should follow through. She taught us patriotism and love of country. She taught us to serve others by her example. Our mother was the epitome of childlike innocence. She had a very tender heart and such an overwhelming love and concern for all of those around her—it is difficult to even try to describe it. She truly radiated charity.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland wrote: “No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the self-less love a devoted mother has for her child.” We are eternally grateful that we have been blessed with such a mother. The greatest compliment we could ever receive would be if someone were to say that we are even a small reflection of our angel mother. Mom, there are no words that could convey our gratitude to you. We are who we are, because of you. You and Dad have given us an INCREDIBLE life! We love you with all of our hearts! Until we meet again, dear, blessed Mother . . .
Mom is survived by all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Her siblings are Lowell (Fayne) Capener, Mickey (Reed-deceased) Sorenson, LaMar-deceased (Betty) Capener, Homer (Betty) Capener, Kathleen (Elmo) Christensen, and Jerry (Sue Ann) Capener.
Mom was also preceded in death by brother-in-law Levi Veryl and his wife, Rose Stano Gardner.
A celebration of Mom’s life will be held on Friday, May 28, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. All viewings and services will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Belmont II Ward church, located at 16925 N. 5200 W., Riverside, Utah.
Viewings will be held for Mom on Thursday, May 27, 2021, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and Friday, May 28, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Burial will be in the Riverside cemetery.
Services will be live-streamed and may be viewed, as well as memories shared with the family, at www.ruddfuneralhome.com under her obituary.
In lieu of flowers, Winona suggested donations to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints “Humanitarian Aid Fund,” which is very dear to her.