Samuel LeGrande Jones passed from this life on April 10, 2023, in just the manner he had hoped; near the honey-crisp apple tree of his own planting, with a wrench in hand and some beautiful Young Ward soil on his fingertips. It was the day after Easter. He was 77 years of age.
Sam was born on August 6, 1945, in Orem, Utah. He was the seventh of ten children born to Milton Carlos Jones and Leone Elizabeth Nielsen. The family’s move to Meridian, Idaho planted his feet in the rich soil of dairy farm life; a way of living that would forever be part of his heart and soul. With a lifestyle poor in cash flow but rich in joy and hard work, his childhood consisted of adventures with his beloved dog “Wags,” canal-swimming, endless farm pranks, and brotherly contests to see who could earn the most “swollen” arms from hard work.
He attended Meridian High School, where he became an enthusiastic member of the Future Farmers of America organization (FFA), garnering national and state awards. He served a nearly three-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denmark.
Sam graduated from Boise State Junior College with an associate's degree in Automotive Mechanics. His service as president of the LDS Institute of Religion brought to his attention a certain beautiful, blond-haired fellow student. He married Marilyn Dean Tanner on August 21, 1969, in the Salt Lake Temple. They made their home in Port Hueneme, California, where Sam joined the Construction Battalion (CB) of the Navy as a heavy equipment mechanic. Toward the end of his service, he directed the CB Band, touring throughout California. He attended boot camp in Gulfport, Mississippi, and subsequently served in Japan, Guam, and the Philippines.
Sam and Marilyn brought ten remarkable children into the world, within an astonishing fourteen-year time period. This required a truly sacred level of parental dedication from them both. Sam’s heroic efforts as a provider included years of dairy farming, after which he obtained Bachelor's and Master’s Degrees from Utah State University. He taught high school for 30 years, mentoring students in the realms of welding, animal science, and horticulture at Bear River High, Box Elder High, the Intermountain Indian School, and Mountain Crest High. He scooped up every after-hours opportunity to provide for his family and was a familiar face at the Cache County Fair, helping FFA students with their animals. He labored selflessly, putting in 80+ hour work weeks to support his large, beloved family.
Sam was a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many callings, including that of Bishop of a Young Single Adult ward. After his retirement, he and Marilyn served as full-time missionaries in the Adriatic South Mission, in the country of Kosovo.
One of the crowning tests of Sam’s later years was the devastating diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. He mourned the gradual loss of his capacity to work with the vigor and strength of previous years, yet never stopped trying to do so.
Sam Jones was an avid fisherman. A hunter. A hiker. A lover of God and country. But one just might come to know him best through the images projected by the memories of his own children:
The cracked, callused hands of a life-long laborer, and the “Popeye-esque” muscular arms that shoveled garden dirt “like a sailor bailing water out of a leaky ship:” Emblems of the indomitable work-ethic that characterized his life.
The broad, powerful shoulders that bore young children, impossibly heavy backpacks, and many other burdens over farm, mountain, river, and stream: Emblems of a fierce devotion to life-sustaining fatherhood, the conquering of challenges, and (yes) the pursuit of fun with those he loved in the great outdoors.
The larger than life smiling mouth, that could spin an impressive yarn. The infectious belly laughter that made movie watching, family story-telling, and the idiosyncrasies of life, all the more hilarious.
The bended knees and bowed head (after the necessary bellowing down the stairwell to gather the family for prayer): Emblems of unyielding faith, devotion, and deep humility before God.
It is with deepest sorrow, and boundless gratitude that the family bids temporary farewell to a man whose simple and solid faith, and protective presence was as life-sustaining as the soil he loved to work.
Sam was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Joyann Packard (Bill), and two siblings who died at birth, Suzanne and Jonathon.
He is survived by wife Marilyn (Tanner) Jones and ten children: David (Emily), Darin (Miriam), Dean (Michele), Dana Truscott (Evan), Dalynn Godfrey (Troy), Dallon (Heidi), Devin (Jenni), Devarie Milligan (Erik), Darla Mae, Derek (Melissa); Siblings Patricia Taylor (Ralph); Richard (Rosalee); Don, Dan (Lisa); Steven, and Mike (Ellen); Thirty-five grandchildren, and one great grandson.
Special thanks to Glade Welker, whose inspired and expert medical care enabled Sam to live the last days of his life on earth in the place that he loved.