Florence “Dena” VanderMey Chapel was born April 14, 1933 to Florence and John VanderMey, Jr. She grew up playing in Lake Michigan with her sisters and cousins. John was a brick mason and moved the family to Corpus Christi, TX to work when Dena was a young woman. She found the bay there and spent many hours in the water. When the family moved to Amarillo, TX, she had to settle for the local pool, however, that didn’t discourage her. She loved swimming!
Dena began her love for music and Jesus in her childhood home. Her parents listened to a lot of music and sang with her. Her dad was a Sunday school teacher who taught at the Dutch Reform Church. When Dena was young, one of her Sundays school teachers told her mom that, “your daughter is hungry for the words of Christ,” and that she had asked so many questions, actively seeking Christ.
Shortly after her high school graduation from Amarillo High, Dena met Dewayn Stewart, a rancher, and for a short time an Air Force soldier from Canada. They got married in October 1951. They lived in several states and then settled in Shelby, MT.
Dewayn was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dena was intrigued by the things her mother-in-law and other family members told her about it. Dena wanted to learn more, so she listened to the missionaries. She joined the Church in February of 1954. Dena told her children that after the lessons she “just knew” that the Church was true, and that she’d never forget the missionary from Kaysville, UT who baptized her.
Dena was a very hard worker, helping her husband on the ranch, and owned/ managed a private nursing home. They had seven children who remember:
• Hearing their mom hum as she worked
• Spit baths
• Tasting perfectly melted, extremely yummy, toasted cheese sandwiches
• Her smelling of Cover Girl powder and lipstick
• Getting helped with homework and being watched while doing dare-devil moves
• Knowing when they couldn’t find her in the house on rainy days that she’d be out in the car listening to the pitter-patter on the car roof
• Making lilac bouquets with her to put on the tables in the house
• Going on drives to look at the scenery, and hearing her say, “The scenery is so rich, one could eat it with a spoon”
• And, drives to the Tasty Freeze to get chocolate swirl cones
Dena and Dewayne played guitars and sang together. Dena sang perfect harmony with him. They went dancing often and taught their children to dance in the living room. They got divorced after 24 years in 1976.
Dena moved to Utah then with her three youngest children in tow. She worked in a nursing home, and then at the BYU library. Sometime in 1980 Dena woke up with the Spirit telling her she needed to start working on genealogy on her dad’s side. And she did. She loved it and got a lot of work done!
Dena met Ron at a dance in 1983 and married him a short time later. They moved to California for a time, a place near the beach, of course. Then they bought a motor home and traveled all over the US, selling little airplanes at the state fairs. Finally settling down in Santaquin, UT. They bought a condemned home and fixed it up together. A beautiful two-bedroom, Grandma and Grandpa home. Dena loved yard work and landscaped their yard beautifully.
When Dena was almost 80, they moved to Craig, CO, in with their daughter, Kimberly. Dena had a room opening up onto a deck. She lined the deck with flowers, fed the birds and talked to them each day. She loved birds. She loved having family cookouts in the back yard and petting the two corgi dogs.
In 2018 they moved down to Richfield, UT to be around other family. Dena got sick enough she had to go live in the care center for the last three years.
Dena’s husband, Ron, passed away on May 22, 2023, and within 3 months Dena went to live in her heavenly home also, at the age of 90, of natural causes.
GRAVESIDE SERVICES will be held Thursday, August 31, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. in the Richfield City Cemetery — VAN VIEWING will be held at the cemetery at 10:30 a.m. — FUNERAL DIRECTORS: Magleby Mortuary, Richfield, Salina and Manti