Daniel Van Oaks, 81, of Springville, Utah, passed away Tuesday, December 15, 2020. He was born July 25, 1939 in Shelby Gap, Kentucky to Burney Edward Oaks and Thena Jane Johnson. He married Loretta Sponkowski on November 26, 1960 in Detroit, Michigan, and they were sealed for eternity in the Washington DC Temple on July 27, 1978.
Dan graduated from Mackenzie High School in Detroit, Michigan, where he and Lori were childhood sweethearts. He continued his education in mechanical engineering at the Detroit College of Applied Science and in industrial engineering at the Lawrence Institute of Technology. He was a member of the ROTC and the United Military Prep School, and he served as a sergeant in the US Army in Washington, DC during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Dan began his career as a paper boy and went on to work as an automotive engineer. He held five patents in his industry and became the owner and CEO of Hi-Tec Engineering. Dan was a member of the Engineering Society of Detroit, the American Society of Tool and Manufacturing Engineers, and the American Welding Society.
Dan loved trains and never let a train pass by without commenting on its design and history. He enjoyed working with model trains and belonged to two railroad clubs in Yuma, Arizona. He also loved animals and filled his life with dogs, chickens, geese, squirrels, possums, and snakes. Dan had a gift for woodworking and created beautiful wooden trucks, toys, cradles, and carvings for his family. At age 55, Dan took country dancing classes and became passionate about line and couples dancing with Lori. One of his greatest dreams was to see the world, and he loved his many adventures in Japan, Russia, France, Germany, Belgium, Egypt, England, and Guatemala. Dan had a great sense of humor and delighted in teasing his children and grandchildren by tickling their ears with a piece of grass or by suggesting they try to catch a bird by sprinkling salt on its tail.
Dan was a seeker of truth and loved history. He loved the Book of Mormon and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on February 12, 1977. Dan served in many church capacities such as a member of the Stake High Council, a counselor and executive secretary in several Ward Bishoprics, Young Men’s President, scout master, and nursery leader. Dan loved to share his faith as a missionary and served as a Ward Mission Leader, Stake Missionary, and Seventy. Dan and Lori experienced some of the greatest highlights of their lives as they served two full-time missions in Bangkok, Thailand. They were so pleased to recently publish their mission memoirs, Emails from Bangkok. Daniel Van Oaks was a powerful example of faith, generosity, and love for his family and fellow man, and he loved the gospel and his savior, Jesus Christ.
Daniel is survived by his wife, Loretta Sponkowski; his brother, Can Oaks; his sisters, Peggy Raines and Sandy McDonald; his five children, Theresa Ebert (Kenneth) of Woodland Hills, Utah; April Hewerdine (Kevin) of Prescott, Arizona; Kimberly Capozzoli (Jeffrey) of Springville, Utah; Daniel Oaks, Jr. (Kathleen) of Alpine, Utah; and Brian Oaks (Cora) of Highland, Utah; and his 26 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Lillie Ruth Oaks, Elouise Scott, Bernice Turner, Billy Joyce Oaks, Marie Oaks, and Janet Oaks; and his great grandson, Braden Bytheway.
Burial will be in the Utah Veterans Cemetery & Memorial Park at Camp Williams, Bluffdale, Utah with military rites by the American Legion.
A family memorial gathering will be held Monday, December 28, 2020. The service will be livestreamed to the Dan Lori Oaks Facebook page at 3:00 pm.
Flowers can be sent to Wheeler Mortuary, 211 East 200 South, Springville, Utah 84663.
To send flowers to Daniel's family, please visit our floral store.