In the early hours of Saturday, the eighteenth of December some of the joy left this earth as Merle Joyce Stone Peterson Wilkerson quietly slipped away and returned to her Father in Heaven. The woman whose beautiful smile lit her entire face and warmed all those around her found her loved ones waiting to welcome her in Paradise. Those receiving her home included two adoring husbands, parents, a brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many cats and dogs that she lovingly cared for.
Joyce was born February 23rd, 1930, in Myton, Utah, on the Ute Indian Reservation, to Hannah Merle Stewart Stone and Lynn Adams Stone. She learned much about the customs and traditions of the Indians and had respect for their culture. In return, the Indians were interested in the little girl with the white-blonde hair who sucked her thumb.
The year she turned eight, Joyce’s family left the reservation and moved to Salem, Utah. There, Joyce and her older brother, Stewart, continued their education and enjoyed an idyllic childhood. During the summer they swam in Salem Pond and in winter they skated on it. Joyce made friends easily and kept those childhood friends throughout her life.
She learned to play the piano and the clarinet when she was still living in Myton, and continued those studies after the move, taking the train to Spanish Fork from Salem for lessons.
A good athlete, she loved tennis and softball. As she grew older she added golfing and bowling to her repertoire and played in both the women’s and the couple’s bowling leagues for many years.
She attended schools in Myton and Salem, and Spanish Fork High School, where she excelled in orchestra and band.
When Joyce moved to Salem, she met Andrew Leon Peterson. Leon took an interest in the new girl, and by the time she was in ninth grade they were going together. They married on January 21, 1947, and made their first home in Salem. Eventually moving to Provo to settle and raise their family of two children, Michael Leon and Sherri Lynn. The family was sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on June 5 of 1952.
In May of 1960, Leon died in an accident on a river rafting trip in Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River.
Joyce fell in love for the second time with John David Wilkerson, who had been a close family friend. They married on December 12, 1961. A son, Todd David was born the following year and completed the family.
Joyce was a hard worker. Her home was always neat and clean. She actually enjoyed doing the laundry and loved ironing. She never had piles of dirty clothes cluttering her home; she stayed on top of it. She was an exceptional cook. She made delicious meals and wonderful desserts and breads. When she was employed outside her home, she took treats to work: banana bread, cookies, and wonderful homemade candy. Her fudge, Olympia creams, pecan logs, and caramels were the stuff of family legends. One year at Christmas she made over eighty pecan logs for family and neighbors.
In the early fifties she went to work at Mountain Bell as a telephone operator to earn money towards buying a home. She enjoyed the challenges and rewards of earning a living, but as soon as there was enough money to purchase property and make a down payment, she quit and returned to her life as a wife and mother.
Still determined to help with the finances, she and Leon decided to open their new home to boarders. Joyce served generous breakfasts and suppers to two additional mouths. The boarders became family friends, and most of them returned for a second or even a third year.
After Leon’s death, the money from boarders really helped, and she could work fulltime and still take care of them. Joyce found work as a bookkeeper at a dairy, a switchboard operator at an automobile dealership, and many positions back at Mountain Bell. When she retired in 1985 she had completed 23 years of service for the telephone company.
As a woman of leisure, she didn’t fair very well. First she cleaned and organized every closet, drawer, and cabinet. Then she volunteered at the Name Extraction Center and became a supervisor. Eventually she found her way back into the work force. She took a part time job in the Springville City offices. She worked there for many years. When she finally retired for a second time, she promised to still bring warm banana bread to the offices, which she did for a long time.
A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she served faithfully in many capacities. She was a Junior Sunday School Chorister, a Sunday School Teacher, a member of the Stake Sunday School board; a Primary teacher, Primary secretary, ward Primary President, and second councilor in the Stake Primary Presidency; Young Women’s athletic director, Mia Maid teacher, and Young Women’s President; Relief society Visiting Teacher, Class teacher, and Relief Society President. She and Dave served a mission with the Church Employment Services. In her eighties she was the Ward Historian for her beloved ward in Springville.
When Joyce worked in the Primary she was the teacher for the Guide Patrol which was made up of the Tenderfoot and Second Class Boy Scouts. When the boys graduated they moved on in the scouting program and the Scoutmaster was Joyce’s husband, Pete (Leon). Those boys became a part of the family. They visited often, even after they were finished being Scouts. Many of them called Joyce “Mom.” When the Scouts were called on missions the Joyce and Pete gave them a steak fry and invited the rest of the troop to give them a fun send-off. Joyce wrote to them while they served. To this day the surviving “Scouts” stay in touch with each other and Mom is always included. She was very proud of her boys.
She is survived by her son, Michael Leon Peterson (Elaine) of Orem, Utah; her daughter, Sherri Lynn Peterson Curtis (Lawrence) of Lehi, Utah; her youngest son, Todd David Wilkerson (Kami) of Springville, Utah; and her sister, Sharleen Stone Thomas (Richard) of Provo. She has seven grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, cousins, and dear friends and neighbors. She was preceded in death by her first husband, A. Leon “Pete” Peterson, her parents, a precious infant nephew, and her second husband John David Wilkerson, with whom she spent 59 years.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Bacon, Dr. Sperry, and Dr. Craig Cook for their skilled and attentive care, and all the nurses (especially Dana in the ICU) and others who were involved in caring for our mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and cousin at the Utah Valley Hospital.
A viewing will be held from 9:30 to 10:30 at Hobble Creek 10th Ward, 495 S Canyon Drive, (go to 400 S and head East to the roundabout, go right onto Canyon Drive, the chapel will be on your left) followed by Funeral Services at 11:00 a.m. Interment will be at Salem City cemetery, 979 S 130 E, Salem, Utah.
For those unable to attend, you may view the services HERE
To send flowers to Joyce's family, please visit our floral store.