Ardell Swasey Gillespie

7/24/1932 ~ 7/1/2018

GillespieArdellCoupleSurrounded by her loving family, Ardell Swasey Gillespie passed from mortality to a more glorious realm on Sunday, July 1st. Age almost 86, Ardell was born July 24, (Pioneer Day) 1932 at her grandparents’ home in Provo, Utah.
Ardell was a true pioneer woman, the first of seven children of Inez Durrant and Lucius R Swasey. Her infancy she spent in a primitive cabin in Arcadia while her daddy was away herding sheep and her mother tended to the sparse home front. When she was three, her family moved from their one-room cabin to a farmstead in Duchesne to begin a dairy farm; it was an ongoing project of improvement on all fronts. The family was happy even though winters could be 40 below, while summers were hot with mosquitos – and the landscape not exactly green and welcoming. Coal stoves were used for cooking and heating.
Electricity didn’t come until Ardell was 9, and running water was supplied when she was 10. Telephone service followed only after Ardell went to College. Ardell attended to her very necessary daily chores of helping milk cows and other farm work even as she bussed 7 miles to Duchesne High School, graduating as valedictorian. She was active in music and played clarinet and piano. She went on to graduate from BYU with a BA in Home Economics.
While at BYU, Ardell met a tall, handsome football player named Almon Dean Gillespie. Ardell won him over with her wit and humor – and patience that almost ran out when she told him to “drop dead”! They were married in the Manti Temple in 1954. Together they raised 9 feisty children.
Dad loved Mom not only for her innate goodness and beauty; he often commented on the blessing of the good family he inherited when he married Ardell. Ardell carried on the legacy of resourcefulness and generosity learned from her parents in her youth. Family for Ardell was not limited to those she was related to by blood. She put her life experience and education to use in all aspects of her life. Ardell was always mindful of those in need. Until the end, Ardell bottled, canned and dried the harvest. Ardell was called upon to organize ward dinners. She sewed clothes for her children and grandchildren, pieced quilts and taught others her many and varied skills, including lye soap making that she preferred for whiter than white laundry.
After her eighth child, Ardell obtained her certificate to teach elementary school. She went on to serve children and youth by teaching for 27 years – 3rd, 2nd, and 1st grade for the last 16 years. Ardell taught at JA Taylor, Valley View, and Woods Cross elementary schools. She used her gift of understanding to lovingly teach hundreds of children the vital skill of reading, including some kids, whom others had written off. Ardell continued to tutor children even during her well-earned retirement. Upon retiring from formal teaching Ardell did not sit still. She tirelessly helped her own children and grandchildren learn the values of service, hard work, and frugality. Ardell was a member of DUP, Utah Quilt Guild, taught 4H, and was the designated driver for friends and ward members to serve in the temple each week. Ardell also kept active regularly swimming having achieved 2000 miles while living in Fillmore and many more when she moved back to Salt Lake.
Ardell was good natured, resourceful, industrious, and generous. Her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will miss her phone calls, kind words, and encouragement to say nothing of her quilts and the Christmas parties she hosted. Our mortal world has given up a great soul to her graduation to the eternities.
Ardell left this Earth the better for her having lived in it. Dear mother, we are committed to continue your legacy of making this world a better place.
Survived by her children DeeAn (Peter) Strub, Fern (Dennis) Stones, Suzan Mann, Inez (Blaine) Thomas, Elizabeth (Marc) Christensen, Joe (Misun) Gillespie and D’Nell Gillespie. Ardell’s posterity includes 24 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren. She also is survived by her brothers George (Jeanette) and John (Barbara) Swasey, sisters Amanda (Ronald- deceased) Prowse; Donna (Steve) Thompson; Maxine (Richard-deceased) Jensen. Preceded in death by her beloved husband Almon Dean to whom she was ever loyal and devoted, sons David and Ben, grandchild Jason, and great grandchild Jonah. It is no exaggeration to say that she lived and wanted to go on living for her numerous posterity until she could go no longer.
Visitation will be held Friday, July 13th from 6-8 pm and Saturday, July 14th, one hour prior to services at 11 am. Funeral will be at the LDS Orchard 10th Ward, 3317 South 800 West, Bountiful, Utah. Interment will follow that Saturday afternoon in the Fillmore City Cemetery. Online condolence at

5 Responses to “Ardell Swasey Gillespie”

  1. Bonnie Miles says:

    I have many wonderful memories of Ardell as we traveled together on my tours. She was always happy, helpful and full of fun. We enjoyed our quilting adventures. Truly she was a friend to all – and shared her talents and enthusiasm wherever she went. We will miss her !
    Love to you, her family.
    Bonnie Miles / American Heritage Tours

  2. Patricia Sebastian says:

    Wishing you peace to bring you comfort, courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your heart.”
    Ardell was my good friend. I will miss her so much. She was my sounding board. She was a true friend.
    I have wonderful memories of her. She was my mentor in teaching. She taught me so much.
    I loved it when she would take me to Filmore We would laugh & quilt. Actually, she would do the quilting I would just talk & talk. She gave me good advice when I needed it. My heartfelt condolences to all of the Gillespie family wishing you hope in the midst of sorrow, comfort in the midst of pain.”
    With sympathy,
    Patty Sebastian

  3. Lynette Fortson says:

    Inez and Megan,
    Your mother and grandmother left quite the legacy. What a great pioneer woman! Inez, I see where you learned your quilting skills.
    with love from one of Erica’s Texas aunts

  4. Pat Wood says:

    I really missed Ardelle when she moved back to North Salt Lake but talked to her on the phone. She taught me a unique way of quilting and I made my FIRST quilt under her direction. I don’t know how you will get along without her.

  5. David Thompson says:

    My eldest and kindest Aunt of all, Ardell. Mother of nine cousins. My mother’s big sister who always supported my mom, from her first day of school and throughout the years. Aunt Ardell was LOUD, and most of that was laughter. I have memories of Ardell, grandma Swasey, mom, my other aunts, as well as neighbors, cousins, etc. sitting around a quilt frame, talking and quilting, stitch by stitch… by hand.

    Thanksgivings and Easter’s and summer bonfires with my swasey family were always a fun time. Ardell was always second in command in the swasey / durrant MATRIARCHY… grandma ruled, Ardell had nearly equal respect, and the other sisters and sistersters -in- law, were also to be obeyed.

    Ardell’s kids were talented and fun. We would dance in grandpa’s clean milk barn sometimes on hot afternoons singing “supercalifragilexpialidocious” and other popular show songs. Fun cousins. Open, kind, friendly Aunt. Big sister to my mother.

    Thank you aunt Ardell. I will think of you always.

    With Love, David Thompson