Eleanor Colton Obituary (2021) – Orem, UT

Eleanor Ricks Colton

1931 ~ 2021

Provo, Utah – Eleanor Ricks Colton, 90, returned to live with her Heavenly Father and older brother Jesus Christ on September 19, 2021 for reasons related to Alzheimer’s disease and age. Ellie loved and was very much loved by her family and friends. Her zest for life made the people around her more fun. She loved the beauty of the earth and walked the woods behind her home in Bethesda, Maryland every day she could. Flowers were a special love of hers. She grew, arranged, pressed, and gave away hundreds of beautiful flower arrangements. As a talented cook and entertainer, her home was regularly filled with new and old friends, family, and laughter. She loved the writings of Shakespeare and regularly broke out in a Shakespeare sonnet when inspired by beauty, family, and sometimes frustration. Her life was full of intellectual curiosity and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, joy and hope.

Ellie was born on August 21, 1931 in Hibbard, Idaho to Thomas Emerson Ricks and Annie Hutchings Ricks on their parents’ dry wheat farm. She was surrounded by love and a big family. When she was 10 years old, she saw the deaths of her father, a beloved grandfather and her sister Marie. Her 28-year-old sister Vie died when Ellie was 19 years old. After the loss of their father, the family had to move to Idaho Falls, Idaho, where their mother supported the family as a seamstress. Ellie described herself as free range after school. She demonstrated the ability to make wonderful supportive friends who influenced her forever. Your Idaho Falls friends were friends for life. She praised this loving fellowship. She worked picking potatoes and in the bakery of her sister-in-law’s parents to make money. She attended Idaho Falls High School and held many leadership positions in various clubs. Ellie loved being in the thick of it. Their humor was infectious. Ellie credits three high school teachers for motivating them to be a leader, love learning, and be the best she can be.

Ellie was the first in her family to graduate from college. She went to the University of Utah and graduated in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. At the University of Utah, she gathered another group of lifelong friends. She promised the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sisterhood and ran it in her senior year as president. After graduating, she taught elementary school in Salt Lake City.

The first day she arrived at Carlson Hall, her college dorm, she met two people who changed her life forever. Nancy Colton and her big brother Sterling Don Colton. Nancy and Ellie became close friends, and Nancy urged Ellie to focus on her brother, including recruiting friends to drive her to Stanford to visit Sterling while he was in law school. Five years later, on August 6, 1954, Ellie and Sterling were married in the Idaho Falls Temple, and their 65-year marriage was full of love, laughter, and adventure.

Sterling’s three years in the US Army took her to Fort Sill, Oklahoma and Stuttgart, where he worked as a JAG officer. Their two oldest children, Sterling David and Carolyn, were born in Germany. She loved her adventures in Europe, where they took every opportunity to explore many European countries.

After Sterling left active service in the military, they returned to Salt Lake City, Utah, where they lived until 1966. Ellie was again an important part of a wonderful community. She and Sterling were in various study groups, organizing court games and parades for the children on Princeton Avenue to celebrate various occasions. While in Salt Lake, their last two children, Bradley Hugh and Steven Ricks, joined the family. She learned to ski and went to the Alta slopes with a friend every Tuesday. During this time, she lost most of her hearing due to a genetic disorder that worsened with each pregnancy.

In the summer of 1966, the family moved to Bethesda, Maryland when Sterling started a job with the Marriott Corporation. Although she missed her friends and family in the west, Ellie followed her own advice and bloomed where she was planted. Tennis replaced skiing, and she loved playing with a group of Maryland friends. A close group of new friends helped her explore the beauty of the east coast, generously sharing their time and interests. After her youngest boy graduated from high school, she taught first grade at Christ Episcopal Day School for several years. She lived in Bethesda for 53 years. Together with Sterling, Ellie traveled to all continents and admired the wonders of the planet with enthusiasm.

Her faith in Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ has been constant throughout her life. This belief was evident in their dealings with others and their service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has served as president and other leadership positions in community and regional children’s, youth, and women’s organizations in the Church. She and her husband served as head of mission in the Canada Vancouver Mission from 1995 to 1998 and as matron of the Washington DC Temple from 2000 to 2003.

Although her health deteriorated due to Alzheimer’s disease, she remained a great example of joy and positivity, constantly teaching everyone who was affected by her life. She has lived at Jamestown Assisted Living in Provo, Utah for the past two years. Your family is grateful to the many caregivers who have lovingly cared for them over the past five years in both Maryland and Utah, and the great work that the hospice has done over the past few weeks.

She is survived by her daughter Carolyn Colton of Bethesda Maryland; their three sons and wives Sterling David and Julie Haycock Colton of Orem, Utah; Bradley Hugh and Melanie Farrell Colton of Midway, Utah; and Steven Ricks and Jeri Cash Colton of Johns Creek, Georgia (currently serving as mission leaders in Olongapo, Philippines); her sister-in-law, Colleen Colton of Bountiful, Utah; her brother-in-law Robert Bradley, Sr. and wife Patricia of Uzes, France; and her brother and sister-in-law John Phillip and Barbara Snyder Colton of Sandy, Utah. She has 17 grandchildren and 46 great-grandchildren, plus two on the road and many nieces and nephews whom she loved. She was pre-deceased by her loving husband Sterling Don Colton, parents Annie Hutchings Ricks Jaques and Thomas Emerson Ricks, the sisters and their husbands Doretha (Don) Lindholm, Vie (Howard) Andrews, Marie Ricks, Sarah Ricks and her brother Emerson Lloyd ( Jean) Rick and Sterling’s parents Hugh W. Colton & Marguerite Maughan Colton and his sister Nancy Colton Bradley and brother H. Maughan Colton whom they loved very much.

Family and friends are invited to attend a memorial service on October 2, 2021 at 12:30 p.m., Sharon 5th Ward Chapel, 545 South 800 East, Orem, Utah, 84097. Family and friends can also attend a memorial service on Thursday evening, September 30, 2021, 6:30 pm-8:00pm at Walker Sanderson Funeral Home, 646 East 800 North, Orem, Utah 84097. The funeral will take place on October 1, 2021 at Maeser Fairview Cemetery in Vernal, Utah.

Published by The Salt Lake Tribune September 23-28, 2021.

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