Ruth Christine Walton Ollerton (“Miss Chris”), 80, of Springville, Utah, died peacefully in her home on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, surrounded by her family after a battle with ovarian cancer. She was born on January 6, 1941, in Provo, Utah to Bruce Lewis Walton and Ruth Whitaker Walton. She married Gerald Lewis Ollerton of Springville on January 25, 1963, in the Manti Utah Temple.
As a child, Christine suffered a “bout” with polio subsequently, dance lessons were recommended as a form of physical therapy. She began studying dance with internationally known children’s creative dance teacher, Virginia Tanner in Salt Lake City. She was invited to live in Virginia’s home and was personally mentored in performing, teaching, and choreographing for the Children’s Dance Theatre. She also studied dance at Perry-Mansfield Theatre School in Colorado; USC Idyllwild Summer Dance in California, and two summers at the American Dance Festival in Connecticut. She graduated from the University of Utah with a BS Degree in Dance Education, and later organized the dance program at Highland High School in Salt Lake. She was one of the original performing dancers (charter member) of Repertory Dance Theatre. Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Alwin Nikolais, Merce Cunningham, Glen Tetley, Bella Lewitsky, Helen Tamiris, Daniel Nagrin, Shirley Ririe, and Joan Woodbury, are among many of the Modern Dance “greats” with whom she studied or performed.
After moving to Springville, Utah, Chris began teaching at Brigham Young University. Modern Dance Division Chair, Dee Winterton, asked Chris to redesign, develop, and direct the Children’s Dance Program at BYU. Under her leadership of 30+ years it grew to be multifaceted in training dancers and producing performances. She retired from the directorship in 2003 and became Director Emeritus but continued to teach a couple of children’s classes as well as other courses in the Department of Dance. One of these courses is the Children’s Dance Methods Class which she founded in 1972, and a class that has literally touched the lives of thousands of children as well as BYU students. In the past, Chris especially enjoyed teaching the university students the technical styles and reparatory of the Modern Dance “greats.” She also valued assisting Linda Smith, Artistic Director of RDT, in setting “Dance for Walt Whitman” on the BYU Dancer’s Company in 1995. It was a piece in which both Chris and Linda had performed together in Colorado and at the U of U in the 1960’s. Another wonderful experience for Chris, was the recreating of “Woman the Pioneer” for Virginia Tanner in the 1970’s upon Dee Winterton’s request. “Woman the Pioneer” was filmed in 1976. It may be the most performed dance work in the BYU Division of Modern Dance and was the thesis material for Christine’s Master of Arts degree which she received from BYU in 1979. Chris was honored by Springville City as their Resident Artist in 1997; received a BYU Department of Dance award in 2002; and carried the torch in the 2002 Winter Olympics. She received the Utah Dance Education Organization Award in 2015. She was active in community offices, i.e., served on the Springville Cultural Arts Committee for 10 years. She served a mission to Athens, Greece with her spouse (Jerry) in 2009 and worked with her spouse in the Provo City Center Temple until the onset of her illness.
Aside from her accomplishments, she was known for her friendly, positive, and bright countenance–making people feel like family as soon as she met them. She always had a smile and treated others with an unmatched genuine kindness. Her family and students remember her as encouraging them to achieve their greatest potential–rarely forgetting a name.
She is survived by her husband of 58 years, Gerald (Jerry) L. Ollerton and her six children Jennifer Roper (Jared), Dr. Matthew Ollerton (Wendy), Dr. Ryan Ollerton (Cori), Jared, Bethany Creer (Dr. Paul Creer), and Seth Ollerton (Abbie). She is the grandmother of 26 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, November 30 at 11:00 AM at the Spring Creek South Stake Center located at 350 E. 400 N., Springville, Utah. A viewing for friends and family will be held Monday November 29 from 6-8 PM at Wheeler Mortuary, 211 E. 200 S., Springville, Utah. A viewing will also be held Tuesday morning from 9:30-10:30 AM at the Spring Creek South Stake Center in Springville. Burial will be at the Springville Evergreen Cemetery.
This obituary was created from her personally written life sketch.
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