Gary Blynn Underwood, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle passed away peacefully at home on July 30 2019 from brain cancer.
Gary was born in Los Angeles CA, August 22 1941 to Vincent Morris Underwood and Dolores Jenkins. He was the oldest of three children. He was fond of telling stories from his childhood, involving himself and his younger brother Bob, who tended to serve as mischief-maker-in-chief. And because he was the elder by less than two years, their parents expected Gary to be the responsible one and look after his younger brother. And so he would get blamed, even when he was just a spectator to the mischief, because: “he should have known better”. Gary said he always felt his parents were not quite fair in their expectations.
As a youth Gary was active in Scouting and particularly enjoyed Scout Camp. His father was his Scout Master and Gary often talked about the adventures he had enjoyed as a scout and all the things he learned, including a deep love of the outdoors.
Gary graduated from North Hollywood High School where he was a star athlete, excelling in gymnastics. He had offers of college gymnastics scholarships but declined them because he did not have Olympic ambitions and wanted to be able to concentrate on his studies while in college. He graduated in 1965 – with Honors – from BYU with a Bachelor of Science degree.
On September 16, 1965, following graduation Gary married Vivi Marie Synnestvedt in the Salt Lake Temple. They have three children and six grandchildren.
Gary settled into a career with a major pharmaceutical company, working in their Agricultural and Veterinary Divisions. His work took the family from Utah to California, back to Utah, then to Idaho, Missouri and finally back to Utah again, where they were able to settle permanently.
Though he was born in California and spent his formative years there, once he came to Utah to attend BYU he fell in love with the state and the easy access to the mountains and the outdoors. His love for Utah stayed with him and when he had an opportunity to come back here permanently he grabbed the chance with both hands. The family settled in Pleasant Grove where Gary built his dream home. There the family stayed for almost forty years, until Gary’s health made it difficult for him to navigate stairs. Reluctantly he agreed to sell the beloved house that held decades of memories for the family. He and Vivi then built a smaller home, easier to navigate, in beautiful, peaceful Mapleton, Utah, where he settled quite happily.
Gary volunteered, and was active for many years with the T.E.R.T. and S.C.A.T teams. They gave him a sense of purpose and filled the need in him to help others. He made many good friends during those years. Eventually his health made it difficult for him to continue volunteering in those capacities and he reluctantly said good-bye to something that had been a very enjoyable and fulfilling part of his life.
When he was no longer able to hike the mountains he loved so much, Gary began studying knife-making. It was clear right away that he had a talent for it and he eventually became an excellent custom knife maker. He had clients in both Canada and the U.S. who regularly bought his knives. Eventually Gary lost feeling in his fingers so was unable to continue making his knifes, a wonderfully creative hobby he had enjoyed so much.
Gary didn’t give up. When he could no longer make knives, he took up forging. Again he was learning something new and creative to take the place of things he could no longer do. He enjoyed forging until he had a debilitating stroke. So once again he had to give up doing something that gave him hours of enjoyment.
But Gary persisted. Following his stroke, with great effort and physical therapy he learned to walk again. His speech returned and eventually so did his reading and comprehension skills. But he never fully regained his short term memory loss.
And then, shortly after we moved to Mapleton, Gary was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He opted for treatment though there was little hope of a cure. But he beat the odds and two and a half years ago was pronounced cancer free – until four weeks ago, when he was again diagnosed, but with a fast growing brain cancer this time. He left us twenty-three short days later.
Despite all his medical challenges Gary lived a full and interesting life. Part of his love of the outdoors included hunting. In addition to hunting in Utah, he had many adventures while hunting in the Canadian Arctic, South Africa and New Zealand. He thoroughly enjoyed entertaining his family with amazing stories from these hunts.
Gary was a High Priest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served faithfully in many different callings over many decades. He is survived by his beloved wife Vivi and their children: Lisa (Dave) Rollason, Adam Underwood and Tessa (Steve) Underwood Russell. He is also survived by five grandchildren: Connor, Sheridan, Rebekka, Samuel and Vincent. Gary was preceded in death by a beloved granddaughter, Stephanie Michelle Tree.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday August 6, 2019 at 11:00am in the Harvest Park Chapel, 1068 South 1600 West (Highway 89) Mapleton Utah 84664.
There will be a viewing prior to the service from 9:30am to 10:45am.
Interment will be in the Mapleton Cemetery, 620 West Maple Street, Mapleton UT.
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