Dora Marie (Semadeni) Sorensen, resident of Springville for over six decades, passed away at home with family attending on February 9th, 2021 of causes consistent with old age. She was born September 7, 1932, to Aldeberto Matteo Semadeni and Margarita Compagnoni. She married Fukan C. Sorensen on the 23rd of January, 1953 in the Salt Lake City LDS temple. Fukan preceded her in death on November 24, 2017. Together they raised six children; Neil, Lydia, Dean, Diana, Mary and Lee. Mary also preceded her in death on May 9, 2016. In addition to her children, she has 20 grandchildren and 54 great grandchildren.
Dora began her life born in a small farmhouse in Cedar Point Utah. Raised by hard working immigrant parents who came to this country from Switzerland seeking a dream to homestead and farm, she and her six siblings worked alongside their parents cultivating the land to raise pinto beans, and other crops in their rural Utah setting near Dove Creek CO. The stories of farm life were filled with hard work and rich rewards, both on the farm and as a family. She and her siblings were known to pile on their big horse ‘Prince’ and ride to the bean fields to clear weeds, or join together to make the quarter mile walk to the water well and retrieve a supply of fresh water for use in the home. They made sure to check the water early enough to get to the well and back before dark, otherwise that long walk was also filled with spooky noises that only seemed to exist after sunset. They tended 5 milk cows to produce milk and cream for their household and to sell, as well raised laying hens that produced eggs. The milk was sold to the creamery and eggs would go to the old store ‘Frostys’.
Given their Swiss ancestry, both of her parents hailed from the same village of Poschiavo at the base of the Swiss-Italian alps and entry to the Bernina Pass, their native language was Romansh, a descendent language of the spoken Latin language of the Roman Empire. Not widely used, it’s mostly found specifically in the Canton of the Grisons in Europe, and in Dora’s case also in tiny Cedar Point, Utah! Their home was filled with this beautiful dialect, similar to Italian. We grew to love hearing when she broke into conversation with her mother or siblings, the melodic and entrancing back and forth captivated us as children and reminded us from where they had come.
Her education began in the 1 room school house that served the small rural community where she and her siblings walked a mile each way to attend. Dora loved school and her teacher, though the country school only offered a primary school through 8th grade education. With that, she left home at 13 to live with her sister Margaret and their family in Clovis, New Mexico and attended Grady High School in nearby Grady, New Mexico. While with Margaret, she babysat her sisters younger children and they grew to love Dora’s care. She excelled in High School academically, but also joining clubs, playing sports, and performing in plays, concerts and variety shows, and was the editor in chief of her senior yearbook. After high school, Dora went on to attend Snow College in Ephraim Utah to study Business Administration, where again she excelled academically and socially. With her sharp wit, confidence, engaging personality, and natural beauty, many of her classmates grew to know and love Dora. After meeting and marrying her husband, the two settled in Springville to raise their young family of six, three girls and three boys.
At 18, after graduating from High School, she along with four siblings converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which began a lifelong commitment and service to her faith. Her talent and dedication were applied to all of her callings. No matter the role she was known to be well prepared and passionate about her service to her fellow man and to God. She performed multiple callings in the ward and stake include the Relief Society, the Primary, and in particular scouting which she loved. Her dedication to scouting was acknowledged when she received the Silver Beaver Award, given to recognize scouters of exceptional character who have provided distinguished service within a council. Rarely is the Silver Beaver Award bestowed on women. Later in life, she also served as an ordinance worker in the temple. But her service stretched beyond her religion, reaching into the community as she volunteered for decades at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center as a pink lady, as well she was a member of the Utah Daughters of the Pioneers teaching enrichment lessons on topics of the sacrifices of early settlers of Utah, in addition to attending to visitors at the museum.
Dora was an expert seamstress, truly a craftswoman with a keen eye for detail and fine sense of fashion. Many a night she spread a pattern across the kitchen table, pinned it to fabric and cut pieces to assemble custom apparel. When a special dress was called for, she often made them as opposed to buying off the rack. When you did buy off the rack, she would tuck and pin and customize the fit so it was just right for you, which came in handy when you grew taller and rounder. From the mid 1970’s until the mid 90’s, she worked as a seamstress in the alterations department at JC Penny, first in the store then located on center street in Provo as well the store located at University Mall.
In the home, a project of some sort was always underway. Usually something that provided for the family such as gardening, canning, processing milk and cream from the cows into butter (leaving just enough cream in the raw milk to make a bowl of cheerios taste like heaven), and baking bread, rolls, candy and the highly coveted Grandma Cookies – usually a mix of chocolate chip, snickerdoodles and an occasional peanut butter or oatmeal. Her home smelled like love and felt like a warm blanket, though she also made sure her children knew what it took to keep a household going; planning, a schedule, and discipline. The laundry was done on Friday night with neat stacks of clothes on the stairs for the kids to take up to their rooms. The deeper house cleaning happened on Saturdays when you could expect a waft of ammonia or vinegar cleaning liquids when you came through the kitchen. If you want a little insight into planning and schedules, just name one day of the week and ask one of her children what meal would be prepared. Even now they could tell you which night was soup or stew, fried chicken or a roast, meat and potatoes, and which night was always hamburgers.
As a mother she was dedicated and organized, but also loving and thoughtful with enough firm discipline mixed in to make sure you picked up your clothes from the floor. If you didn’t, you’d get docked on your allowance or worse, you just might find them stuffed in the garbage can with a note saying, ‘If you don’t care about your clothes enough to pick them up, I don’t either’. She had a quick wit and could take a bit of sarcasm with a smile then dish it back just as well. On Saturday mornings you could depend on getting your ration of hard tack candy from the candy jar, with some allowance in the form of small change stacked in front of your two baby food jars – one for your tithing and the other for your own use. You split out the amounts yourself, she didn’t check the balance of which jar you chose, but she made sure there was enough exact change that 10% was in your hand broken out when you picked up the coins.
Although all of her children were her favorites, the truth is we all knew there was one child in a category all her own. Mary Ann was the fifth child and was born with downs syndrome, and from day one her mere presence brought forward a most powerful display of pure innocence and simple goodness. As a mother, Dora embraced the additional demands that comes with a special life such as Marys’ and set forward to do all she could to first care for her individual needs at home that took additional effort, but to also include her in family, social, educational, religious and any other circle right along with her siblings. When a specialized school offered specific instruction to those specially abled, it didn’t matter that it was in Provo and required a daily drive and special coordination, Mary was in the first class offered and loved her new school and meeting friends similar to herself. Mom supported Mary in Special Olympics, encouraging Mary in swimming, bowling, and running track. We opened our home to Special Olympians who came to Utah for the games and needed a host family, rearranging the living and family room into a makeshift dormitory then preparing meals and transport for these most wonderful of athlete’s. It couldn’t be said there weren’t times when the tasks grew steep and challenged patience, but even in that you knew of moms deeper understanding of the richness of reward to Mary and her cohort, and each of our family and friends that too were able to love and care for her.
As a mother she was the tops, but as a grandmother she was exceptional. Here are a few of her secrets. First, a spray bottle can be customized and bring hours of fun spraying bugs with water or writing your name on the sidewalk. Usually customized with a name, because while you were a grandchild, you were also an individual and knew you were seen as the unique you that you were. Second, a frozen twinkie or a popsicle in the chest freezer is always a good idea, and if you got to the bag of popsicles early enough, the banana flavor might still be there. Third, have plenty of toys close at hand and be down on the floor alongside the others setting up a toy barnyard, or a car racetrack, making imaginary cupcakes and tea or whatever adventure spontaneously came about. But the lynchpin of all tactics of her grandmotherly exceptionalism was – a constantly filled cookie jar with overflow cookies frozen in a Ziploc to double as either refills for her supply, or if you were going on a trip, a ready ‘to go’ bag so you had the nibbles all along the way. Birthdays of grandkids and great grandkids could be marked with a card, a call, or both, but it was of the upmost importance for her to remain as connected as she could to all her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
When asked what she wanted to be remembered for, she said, “a testimony of the gospel and an open door.” Both exemplify Dora.
Dora is survived by her five children: Neil (Pat) of West Mountain, Utah; Lydia (George) of St. George, Utah; Dean (Joyce) of Highland, Utah, Diana of Rexburg, Idaho, and Lee of Broomfield, Colorado; 20 grandchildren and 54 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Fukan, and daughter Mary.
Due to current public health concerns, an informal and private service will be held Saturday, February 13th, 2021 with select family starting at 9:30 am and closing of the casket at 11:00 am. Wheeler Mortuary in Springville, Utah. The party will move directly to the Evergreen Cemetery, Springville Utah, for the placement of the casket, dedication of the grave and interment at approximately 11:20 – 11:40, when the casket arrives and family assembles.
The dedication of the grave and interment will be live cast on Wheeler Mortuary Facebook Live link https://www.facebook.com/wheelermortuary and can be accessed by all interested.
As Dora was beloved by many, and current circumstances are not conducive to host all who would wish to attend, the family are organizing a Memorial to be hosted in the near future which will be open to family and friends of Dora. Updates on when and where will be posted to this obituary as they are forthcoming.
In lieu of flowers, we encourage a donation to Special Olympics Utah which can be accessed by clicking the https://support.specialolympics.org/a/give-in-your-state?state=ut&sourceid=1041188&ms=google-utah&gclid=Cj0KCQiAyJOBBhDCARIsAJG2h5csJoKuPXqAtwzbyf9cpHmw2WXE_PRlTY4-1_kqnIBL3lgNVikumhwaAm13EALw_wcB