Sharon Larsen Van Orden
June 24, 2022
With tender hearts and joyful memories, we mourn the final sunset in the life of our dear wife, mom, grandma, great-grandma, and favorite cowgirl, Sharon Larsen Van Orden.
Born in August 1940 as the second of ten children and raised on her family’s farm in Star Valley, Wyoming, Sharon was an honest-to-goodness cowgirl. Life on the farm was often difficult, especially growing up in a home with no indoor plumbing. It was the wild-wild west, only with none of the glamour. Farm chores began at an early age. It didn’t matter that Sharon was “just a girl”; she and her siblings had to rise at 5:00 a.m. to help milk the herd of cows by hand in an unheated barn before going to school.
More milking chores awaited them after school, and there wasn’t much time for homework. Sharon also hauled bales of hay, rounded up sheep on horseback without a saddle, and worked on and around the farm equipment. Still, there was so much that she loved about farm life, including fishing, riding horses, and rodeos at the Lincoln County Fair in Afton.
Sharon adored her parents and her many siblings. Recent reports from her siblings indicate that even as a child, Sharon was spunky, had a wicked sense of humor, and didn’t take any sass. All of these experiences shaped her character and work ethic for the rest of her life.
Upon meeting and marrying the love of her life, Dell Van Orden, in the Idaho Falls Temple, Sharon transitioned to life in the “big city” in Utah. After that, she wrangled only kids and their many pets. Sharon and Dell were married for 63 wonderful years, and together they welcomed six children.
Sharon was completely devoted to her family and loved being a mom. She brought her love of the great outdoors to her family, and was the parent who taught her kids to fish (including baiting the hook) and to look for the deep, quiet spots in the river to drop the line. Sharon is also the one who put the kids on horses and rode with them. She snowmobiled on her family’s farm with her kids. She was present and whole-heartedly cheered for the countless academic, athletic, and other endeavors of her children.
She also supported Dell in all that he did, making it possible for him to travel extensively for his work as editor of the Church News, even though it meant she was often left to raise the kids alone for long stretches.
Sharon celebrated each child and grandchild. As a young mother, she took cake decorating classes so that she could make fabulous birthday cakes for her children. She also baked gingerbread houses (from scratch) with elaborate candy decorations. For birthdays, she started a tradition of making “attribute posters,” where she described the best qualities of each family member. For years, she also created hand-made, humorous, uniquely-collaged birthday cards for each and every member of her family.
She loved spending time and talking with each grandchild and great-grandchild about their interests, and always had a treat or small surprise on hand for them.
She also loved planting and growing flowers (the scent of lilacs will forever remind us of her). Sharon was a talented poet, an accomplished seamstress, and a happy baker. All her life she cherished her friendships. She was a passionate consumer of the news and loved to stay informed on current events. She was a connoisseur of game shows, with a quick wit and speedy answers to ‘Jeopardy’ and ‘Cash Cab’ questions. She enjoyed playing board games with Dell, as well as with the kids and grandkids.
Sharon was never a flashy person; her sparkle came from the inside. Still, she had a love for beautiful jewelry, and would shine with colorful necklaces and earrings. Sharon and Dell also loved to travel; Sharon’s travel highlights included visiting 47 states, 7 of 9 Canadian provinces, and 39 national parks.
Her faith in, and love for, the Savior Jesus Christ permeated every aspect of Sharon’s life. She was a steadfast, lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who threw herself into every calling she had, and was an especially talented youth teacher. She had the opportunity to attend several spiritual temple dedications with her husband Dell, and these were precious memories to her.
She also loved traveling to Hawaii with President Joseph Fielding Smith and his wife Jessie Evans Smith. She was proud of her pioneer heritage and the legacy her ancestors left for her. Sharon firmly believed in both the resurrection and forever families, and looked forward to the day when she would return to her eternal home.
Ever kind-hearted and willing to serve, Sharon was a doer of good deeds. She was always willing to lend a helping hand. She was also a pre-DoorDash neighbor who delivered homemade cakes or meals. Likewise, she was a pre-Uber driver for those in need. Most endearing, her playful sense of humor remained with her to the end. Her love of fun and mild pranks (watch out especially on April Fool’s Day!) were defining qualities. She liked making people laugh, seeing them smile, and spreading happiness.
Because of the way that she lived her life, one might never have guessed (until it was unavoidably visible in her later years) that Sharon suffered with chronic pain and a lifetime of serious health challenges. Even with frequent debilitating pain, she accomplished so much, made others feel so loved, and left us with a lasting family legacy. It was her cherished faith and determination that sustained her even through open heart surgery, and the rigors of six mildly unruly children.
She taught us what resilience looks like.
In the end, it was her big heart that could no longer hold up.
Sharon has now moved on to the big rodeo in the sky. Those of us with broken hearts include her beloved husband Dell, who was her devoted years-long caretaker, and who remained so through the very end of Sharon’s life; her six children and their spouses (Steve & Tracy; Debbie & Brent; Mike & Lynnette; Rich & Noelle; Julie & Pete; Diana & Ari), 13 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. Heavenly reunions are presently occurring with her parents, Max and Vivian Crapo Larsen, as well as brothers Larry and Lavell.
The family would like to thank all of the caring nurses and doctors who have taken care of Sharon through the years.
Services as follows:
Viewing: Monday, June 27, 2022, 5:00-7:00 p.m., at McDougal Funeral Home, 4330 So. Redwood Road, Taylorsville, Utah.
Viewing: Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 9:30-10:30 a.m., at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3836 West 4100 South, West Valley City, Utah.
Funeral Services: Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 11:00 a.m., at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3836 West 4100 South, West Valley City, Utah.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Sharon’s name to the American Heart Association (heart.org). The family also requests you do a random act of kindness in honor of Sharon.