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Thursday, July 13, 2023
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Friday, July 14, 2023
9:45 - 10:45 am
Friday, July 14, 2023
Starts at 11:00 am
Friday, July 14, 2023
12:30 - 1:30 pm
Dona Rae (Hall) Wardell
Nine years after the birth of their daughter Oral, Joshua Chellus and Gail (Blankenship) Hall were surprised with an addition to their family of seven. Dona Rae Hall was born on the 10th of June, 1932 in Vernal, Uintah, Utah; the youngest child of Josh and Gail. She was also the last of the family to leave this mortal existence to return to our Heavenly Father after ninety-one years of living life to the fullest. She quietly died on Saturday, the 8th of July, 2023 in the home of her daughter in Vernal, Utah.
Dona was cherished and loved by her four brothers and sister. Her father nicknamed her Dolly. One of her favorite childhood memories was to climb up into the lap of her loving father after dinner. He would sit back, cross one leg over the other, and make a triangle nest for little Dolly to climb into as he smoked his pipe after a long day of working in the fields. Dona was raised on one of the first homesteads settled in Dry Fork Canyon (north of Vernal). Although she grew up during the depression, she never realized they were poor. Their doors were always open to those in need. These were the times of unity. Neighbor helping neighbor with crops, barn raising parties, sending soldiers off to war and supporting each other when they didn’t return. It was a time of change from kerosine lamps to gas lighting; horse-drawn carriages to motor cars. Outhouse toilets, ice houses, and cooling milk in the creek were becoming things of the past. Dawna has shared many experiences of her idyllic childhood and an era long forgotten in today’s world. With those changes, Dona changed the simple spelling of her name to “Dawna.” “It was more elegant,” she said.
From a young age, Dawna was known for her fine singing ability. She has fond memories of learning an alto harmony singing with her mother while picking raspberries together in the garden. She learned her famous yodeling skills from listening to the “Sons of the Pioneers” radio program. The radio was the main form of entertainment back then. The yearly camping trip was not complete until Dawna sang with her autoharp to the light of the campfire with her family joining in occasionally. Her yodeling was their favorite. She wrote many songs detailing her life’s experiences and must have sung at hundreds of events, benefits, and funerals. Although she was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since her baptism as a teenager, there was a battle between the youth of multiple churches as to whose church she actually belonged with each group claiming her as their own because she had sung at funerals in all the various churches. There were no boundaries for Dawna.
On high school graduation day, the 18th of May, 1950, Dawna married Robert Bayne Wardell, son of Thomas Alvin and Vena (Rasmussen) Wardell in Dry Fork Canyon at the family home. They were later sealed for eternity in the Logan Temple. Together they began a life on the Wardell ranch outside Rangely, Colorado, raising sheep. After children began coming, they would split their time between Vernal, UT and the ranch so the children could attend school. At one time they had a spread in Clark, CO and the sheep would be driven from each ranch through the summer. Eventually six children were born to Robert and Dawna.
Along with her singing ability, Dawna was an artist. Although her main schooling in art was through a college correspondence course, she was blessed with artistic talent through her mother who was also an artist and photographer. With her family having strong political views, there were always flyers laying around that she would confiscate for her drawing and painting canvas. As time went on, she was known as “The Woman who Painted the Town” in Rangely. The first murals found on various businesses, schools, and oil tanks were done by her. She is also known for her two prints, “Eternal Progression,” and “Follow the Prophet.” They have been found all over the world in temples and various church buildings. She taught and gathered many friends in art classes that spanned close to seventy years. She said they were more of a therapy class than art class. She never charged more than $10 for a half-day long lesson. Her last class was when she was nearly ninety years old.
After the death of her husband on the 9th of January, 2001, Dawna turned over the ranch near Rangely over to her sons and went on an LDS mission to the Canary Islands. She has always been a missionary at heart and believed firmly in Jesus Christ as our Savior. She served in multiple church assignments through the years but seemed to enjoy the Activities Committee most. She loved putting on a good party. Upon returning from her mission, she moved to Vernal, Utah, where she has resided since.
Dawna now celebrates a joyful reunion with Robert, her husband, all of her siblings—Floyd S. (Betty Jo) Hall, K. Morgan (Virginia) Hall, Clyde (Clara) Hall, Marion (Lois) Hall, Oral (Arvid) Merkley; her parents and one daughter, Pamela Wardell. Left behind to cherish her memory are Betty Jo, the last of the Hall family and wife of Floyd, and her children who are Barry L. (Temi) Wardell of Clarendon, TX; Wanda (Carl Ray) Collett of Vernal, UT; Wendy Wardell of Vernal, UT; Layne R (Pamela) Wardell of Rangely, CO; and Gay (M. Duane) VanderLinden of Vernal, UT. She also leaves fifteen grandchildren and thirty-two great grandchildren (not counting all of their spouses).
Funeral services for Dawna will be held Friday the 14th of July at 11:00 am at the Rockpoint 2nd Ward Chapel (2575 North 1500 West, Vernal, UT). Visitation for family and friends will be Thursday evening from 6:00 pm ~ 9:00 pm at the Blackburn Mortuary (15 East 100 North), and Friday morning from 9:45 am ~ 10:45 am at the church. Interment will be in the Dry Fork Cemetery next to her beloved husband. Services are under the direction of the Blackburn Vernal Mortuary.