Judith Ann Malzahn Ellsworth, December 23, 1936 – May 22, 2020
At the gentle call of our Father in Heaven, our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend quietly passed into eternity on Friday, May 22nd and ran joyfully back into the waiting arms of her beloved husband and loving daughter.
Mom was born 83 years ago in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on a chilly Wednesday in December 1936, just two days before Christmas. At first, she was still and silent, and the doctor believed her dead, but an elderly nurse coaxed the silent baby back to life.
Her mother, Margaret, was the daughter of Kansas farmers; her father, Leonard Malzahn, was a Union Pacific Railroad man and the son of Prussian immigrants. From them, she learned the virtues of fierce determination and perseverance, as well as integrity and unwavering faith in the Lord, which remained with her throughout her long life. Because of her father’s job with the railroad, Mom lived in many places as a girl: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; North Platte, Nebraska; Green River and Rock Springs, Wyoming; and Idaho Falls, Idaho, where she attended high school (Class of 1954).
During her junior high school years in Green River, a terrible disease swept through town, taking the lives of several of her classmates and her teacher. When she also became ill, the doctors declared there was no hope and told her parents to begin making funeral arrangements. Even if she somehow survived, they said, she would never be able to have children. Her father, a man of tremendous faith and a close friend of Spencer W. Kimball, gently laid Mom in their car and traveled to Salt Lake City instead. Elder Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, administered to her and promised her a long life and a beautiful family. Many years later, in 1974, President Kimball traveled to Washington DC for the dedication of the Temple where he was happily surprised to see Judy Malzahn, now a healthy, married woman. He took her by the hand and exclaimed, “Judy! How are you? And how are the children the Lord promised to send you?” Mom was thrilled to report that she and Dad had a beautiful family with four precious children.
Mom always had a compassionate heart and even in her childhood was often found tending to the needs of others. This led her to study Nursing at BYU (class of 1958). She very much enjoyed her career as a Registered Nurse and worked in various positions throughout her life: Operating Room, Labor & Delivery (which she loved), Nurse Training, and Patient Education. Her most recent assignment was in the Surgical Suite at the University of Utah Hospital where she took great delight in being a BYU Cougar among the Utah Utes!
She credited nursing as the path that led to meeting the love of her life in 1957. As a young student nurse at the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, she was assigned one day to the ICU and was tending to German Edgar Ellsworth, who had been the Northern States Mission President. His grandson Stanford, recently returned from the war in Korea, was sitting with his grandfather overnight. Mom didn’t see him when she entered the room, and she tripped over his feet. She loved to tell the story of how amazing it was to find herself face to face with this “very handsome soldier.” Grandfather Ellsworth received more visits than usual from his nurse that night, and the rest is history! They were sealed for time and all eternity in the Idaho Falls Temple on August 30th, 1957. Over 62 years of faithful marriage! Their life together was a true love story filled with adventure, service, marvels, and miracles from the Hand of God.
They enjoyed being Dorm Parents at BYU’s Heritage Halls while Dad finished his undergraduate degree. Mom followed her husband across the country as he pursued his career in business and health care administration: Seattle, Washington; Mountain View, California; Niagara Falls and Gloversville, New York; Annandale, Virginia; the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania; and Annapolis, Maryland. Mom and Dad enjoyed their 20+ years on the East Coast near the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. We spent many family vacations on the beaches of the Carolinas and Florida. (In their later years, they often visited the turquoise waters of Cancun, Mexico, which became their favorite destination!) She loved living “Eastward in Eden” and particularly enjoyed the culture and history of the Washington, DC area. But upon Dad’s retirement from the private sector, she was happy to return to the Crossroads of the West in the Shadows of the Everlasting Hills. She spent the last 30 years of her life in Sandy, Utah.
Mom loved music and was an accomplished soprano and pianist. She sang briefly with the Tabernacle Choir before moving away from Utah and regularly performed in church meetings and other events. At home, she would often pause during the day to play the piano or sing. One of Mom’s greatest legacies is the love of music she instilled in the hearts of all four of her children.
Her truest devotion, however, was to her family and her faith. She found absolute joy in being a wife, mother, and grandmother and leaves a legacy of songs, stories, traditions, and “teaching moments” that will be treasured and passed along for generations. Mom was a stalwart member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many capacities, making lifelong friends among the adults and youth in her wards and branches. She had a distinct flair for teaching and was well known for her unique and unforgettable visual aids. She bore her heartfelt and inspiring testimony at every opportunity, most importantly to her family within the walls of her own home.
Mom is survived by her sons, Stanford (Stacey), Scott (Laura), and Gregg, 15 Grandchildren, 11 Great-grandchildren, and her sister, Linda. She was preceded in death by her husband, Stanford, and her daughter, Linda Elaine (Kenneth Byington).
Due to current restrictions, a private viewing and graveside service will be held on Friday, May 29th, 2020, with Interment at the Utah Veterans Cemetery and Memorial Park. A memorial service will be held in her honor later this year (details to be announced).
The Ellsworth family would like to thank the loving and devoted staff of Ashford Assisted Living and Memory Care, Bristol Hospice, and Frank Coon/Independent Funeral Service, for their tender and compassionate care during this most difficult time.