Linda Lee Pehrson Ekker, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend was called back to her heavenly home Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, surrounded by her husband and all her children. Linda was born March 31, 1947, in Tooele, Utah, to Sidney and Sarah Delvora Gurney Pehrson. She was the second youngest of 11 brothers and sisters whom she loved dearly.
Linda spent most of her life in Vernon, growing up on her parents’ farm and cattle ranch. She attended elementary school in Vernon, in the same building that she would eventually teach in for many, many years. Later she attended junior high and high school in Tooele, Utah. She had a special relationship with her dad, who passed away when Linda was only 16 years old. Following his death, Linda helped her mother on the farm until she began attending Brigham Young University. She initially planned to become a nurse but found her calling in life was as a teacher and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
While a student at BYU, she met James Harrison (Jim) Ekker, whose family were ranchers in the Sheeprock Mountains just south of Vernon. They were married in Vernon on June 5, 1971, and their marriage was later solemnized May 28, 1977, in the Manti Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They made their home in Vernon, where they ranched and farmed and raised five children. She loved living in Vernon and loved all her friends and neighbors there who made it so special.
Linda worked side-by-side with her husband, and later her children, on the ranch. She taught her family how to work hard and to enjoy the satisfaction that comes with a job well-done. She would often be working in the field moving sprinkler pipe, helping work and move the cattle, and working in a large and productive garden where she raised many beautiful vegetables. In 1984, she returned to teaching school full-time at Vernon Elementary where she started out teaching 4th through 6th grade combined in one classroom. She later taught Kindergarten through 3rd grade at Vernon. For 24 years she worked tirelessly as a teacher, putting her all into helping every child in her class. Linda had a gift of making every child feel important and loved, and once they knew they were special they often excelled in the classroom. Her students frequently topped Tooele County School District in test scores for their age group. She made learning fun by teaching through songs, stories, and games, and was well-loved by every student in her class. Her family, her students, and teaching were truly the loves of her life.
In 2008, Linda was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and was forced to take an early retirement from her beloved school. After several treatments failed to produce a lasting cure, she underwent a stem-cell transplant in 2010 at LDS Hospital, using cells donated by her brother, Eric. While the prognosis was not good, Linda proved her courage and fighting spirit and battled this disease with all her might. She lived in Salt Lake City for nine months so she could be close to the hospital in the event of an emergency. The transplant was successful, and she was cancer-free for 11 years, before it returned aggressively in June of 2021.
Linda had a beautiful voice and grew up singing with her parents and siblings. She played the piano, and taught her children to sing and to develop a love of music. She and her siblings were often asked to sing at community events and funerals. She was an outstanding cook, and was well-known for her delicious bread, pies, cinnamon rolls, and many other wonderful dishes. Many families and individuals were blessed by a home-made meal prepared by Linda and delivered to their homes. She was a long-time member of the Utah Cattlewomen’s Association and American National Cattlewomen’s Association and received the Spirit of the Cattlewomen Award in 2009 from the UCWA. Summer vacations were planned around visiting different areas in the state of Utah, attending conventions, and rubbing shoulders with ranching families. She developed many good friendships with people she considered the salt of the earth. She was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for her entire life, and she served in many callings and assignments including as Relief Society President and working with the Primary children as Sister Friendly, which was her favorite calling of all. Her faith and testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ gave her the strength and courage to confront the many challenges she faced in life. She was always positive, cheerful, and optimistic, even when the situation was bleak. She saw the good in everyone and tried to treat them as the Savior would. She was a light and example of waiting patiently on the Lord and enduring to the end, and is an inspiration to her family and many, many friends.
Linda is survived by her husband of 50 years; her children Matthew John (Debbie) Ekker of Taylorsville, Utah; Michelle (Tony) Adams of Tooele, Utah; Mary Lou (Brent) Hogan of Grantsville, Utah; Melinda (Brady) Johnson of Vernon, Utah; and Holly Christina (Nate) Sorensen of Payson, Utah; sisters Jackie Pehrson of Vernon, Utah, and Vicki (John) Smekens of Washington, Utah; brother Sidney (Tiiu) Pehrson of Key West, Florida; sister-in-law Erla Pehrson of Farmington, Utah; 16 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. She was preceded in death by her parents, and siblings Sidney Bryant, John Calvin, Florence Elaine, Emma Lou, Clayton Gurney, Lois Christina, and LeRoy Eric. A viewing for family and friends will be held Saturday, Sept. 25, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Vernon Ward, 280 Main St., Vernon, Utah. Funeral service will be held at the same location at noon. Friends and family may also watch the service remotely at: my.gather.app/remember/linda-ekker. Interment will be at the Vernon Cemetery following the service.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to the many family members, neighbors, and friends who shared their love, support, and prayers with Linda and their family over the last several years. We also express our appreciation to the doctors and staff at the LDS Hospital Bone Marrow Clinic, Dr. James Pearl, Maddi with Harmony Home Health & Hospice, and Tate Mortuary.