Joanne Van Boerum Obituary (2021) – Salt Lake City, UT

Joanne Beth Kilts Van Boerum

1939 ~ 2021

“Well, I’m not ready to give up yet!” These were some of the last words she said and were among the principles that shaped her life.

Joanne Beth Kilts Van Boerum was born on March 18, 1939 in Ogden, Utah, to Elizabeth Brown Kilts and Earl Sylvester Kilts. When she was just three years old, her father died in an accident. In 1948, her mother married Merlin Walter Webb, Joanne’s father, and raised her lovingly as if she were his own. Joanne returned to her Heavenly Father on September 21, 2021 – peacefully and surrounded by her husband, six children, and their spouses.

Joanne attended and graduated from Ogden High School and Weber College, then continued her studies at Utah State University. She was popular with the student body and ran for and was elected to various leadership positions. While she was still in school at Ogden High School, she met the love of her life, J. Howard Van Boerum, who was studying at Weber College. Their relationship flourished, and when Howard made the decision a year later to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joanne agreed to wait for him. And she did. During his mission, Howard bought diamonds from a jeweler in Holland and asked Joanne to marry him ten days after completing his mission and returning to Ogden. Two and a half months later, on August 10, 1960, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. That was over 61 years ago!

As a college student and a young woman, Joanne honed her skills and was valued for her skills while working for the Bon Marche in Ogden and then as a secretary at Hill Air Force Base. Joanne’s greatest wish was to be a mother who stays at home and can concentrate fully on her family. The entire family was continually blessed as they exhausted their bodies to fulfill this divine calling. Howard’s career allowed her to do what she wanted.

Howard was still a student when their first child was born and the young couple budgeted and sacrificed to allow Joanne to stay home with her daughter Lori. Over the next seventeen years, five more children joined the Van Boerum family: Heidi, Don, Drew, Jane, and Joni. The children always knew that they were a priority for Joanne. She never missed a car pool, sports event, dance or piano night, or the opportunity to sew a prom dress – sometimes all in one day with a seventeen year old family. Van Boerum’s house was popular with friends who remember Joanne for her welcoming friendliness, her stocked pantry and delicious home-baked goods.

Joanne’s support from Howard allowed him to flourish in his career. This enabled her to be a mother and housewife all her life. Joanne made sure that the family had nutritious meals every night and that the laundry was clean and ironed. Howard and Joanne were a great team.

Joanne’s children were able to learn many valuable lessons from her, including: If a job is worthwhile, it is worth doing it well. Two mistakes don’t make you right. Sticks and stones. That the cleaning of the kitchen is only finished when the sink is rinsed and shiny. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. She taught that love is unconditional, that dreams can come true, and that you can be what you want. By example, she taught honesty, selflessness, perfectionism, compassion, perseverance, and grace.

Joanne was the perfect host. Sunday lunches at the Van Boerum house were quite a staging, especially since in-laws and grandchildren came to the family and Joanne kept an eye on everyone’s likes and dislikes; ensuring there were both green and yellow vegetables to suit individual preferences – which sometimes meant choosing six!

The extended Van Boerum family is always looking forward to the annual summer trip to Sun Valley. Howard and Joanne rent condominiums and host their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for a week of summer fun. Joanne spent the previous weeks baking and freezing take-away cookies. Counting a year, she found that she had baked a variety of over 100 dozen (yes, 100 dozen) biscuits that were distributed to each apartment and eagerly enjoyed by all. She knew which biscuit was the favorite in her family and made sure it was plentiful. There was always a puzzle on the table at Joannes Platz and it was a meeting point for grandchildren who enjoyed the challenge of the puzzle and the loving conversation with grandma and were sure that they were the darling.

All of her life, Joanne had a strong testimony of the gospel. She showed Christ-like love and service in everything she did. Joanne and Howard served together in the Salt Lake Temple for several years until an injury to Joanne’s leg prevented them from continuing. In her ward, Joanne has served in Relief Society directors, Primary directors, and various other callings.

At the young age of 30, Joanne was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and met her with a determination not to give in. She routinely thanked her rheumatologist Dr. Cecil Samuelson and Dr. Daniel Clegg, their competent care for your health and quality of life. For 50 years Joanne endured various immunosuppressive treatments and drugs as well as their side effects and fought with dignity against the resulting deterioration until the end. Joanne spent the last two weeks of her life in her son Don’s shock trauma intensive care unit at the Intermountain Medical Center, which was cared for by him and her fellow doctor son Drew along with the rest of the family and an army of specialists. The family would like to thank all the doctors and nurses who have cared for them sensitively during this time. Joanne’s heart and soul didn’t give up, but her body did in the end.

Joanne preceded her parents and grandson Brock Butler in death. She leaves behind her husband Howard and their children Lori and Roger Haglund, Heidi and Brian Monson, Don and Heather Van Boerum, Drew and Melody Van Boerum, Jane and Devin Healy, and Joni and Spencer Chipping. 23 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren with another great-granddaughter on the way round off the family. Joanne is also survived by her sister Barbara Leatham and brother Dale Webb.

A viewing will take place on Thursday, September 30, 2021, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Lawn, 2350 East 1300 South in Salt Lake City. The funeral will take place on Friday, October 1, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at the Crestview Ward, 2795 East Crestview Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84108. Family and friends can visit this morning from 9:30 am to 10:30 am. The burial will follow on the Larkin Sunset Lawn. For those unable to attend the services in person, the family invites you to join via Zoom at A free Zoom account is required to participate.

Published by Deseret News from September 24th to October 1st, 2021.

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