Zera Larraine Staheli 9/2/37 - 1/17/22
Dad was born into a loving family on a farm in Enterprise, Utah. His father, William, was a school teacher and farmer, his mother, Dessie, was his adoring Mom. As the baby of the family by 7 years, he idolized his older brothers (Bill, Reece, Mel and Eli) and was dressed up in girl baby dresses and ringlets by his only sister, Merlene, who wanted a little sister. As a little boy, only 3 years old, Dad rode the old brown horse bareback down the rows of potatoes, dropping burlap bags every 10 feet or so for the potato pickers to fill. By the time he was 4 he was kneeling on the seat of the 1937 International truck, steering down the rows while his brothers hauled hay. He learned to milk cows from Mel and Eli, the love of books from his father and a love of bread and milk from his mother. He loved playing hide and seek with his best friend: a small black dog named Tip.
Dad learned to fish with his hands from Reece and loved hunting with his brothers. After the family moved to the farm in Provo, he worked all kinds of jobs: delivered newspapers, was a chicken “gut picker”, welded pipe, helped Bill drive truck to Las Vegas, and learned carpentry from Eli.
In 1955, at the age of 17 Dad started college at BYU with the money he saved for tuition and books. After 2 years of school he worked a jackhammer with Bill for $2.50/hour while getting ready for his mission. His 2 ½ year call to the Swiss/Austria mission was a dream come true. Switzerland is home to the Staheli family. Dad was so proud of his Swiss heritage. There was no LTM or MTC then; he was shipped off (literally) without knowing a word of German and expected to learn it in a baptism by fire. Those were about the only baptisms in Europe the years after the WWII. People were poor and weary from war and work. Homesick, lonely, and unable to communicate, Dad counted out the days until he got home. 912. Then he got a map and plotted a walking route from Graz, Austria, across Russia, down through Alaska and Canada and back home. The only problem was, “…the damn sea.” His father wrote and told him, “Son, get to work.” So he did. And stayed. Dad loved Switzerland and Austria; the beauty, history and people. After nearly 3 years away from home, and without a word of warning, Dad walked into his parents’ bedroom on an early Sunday morning. He was home.
Dad served in the Army as a Combat Engineer driving cats and operating cranes. He was once ordered to hold his rifle above his head and run around the Company 6 times for talking in rank. If you are one of his children or grands, you will instantly recognize the origin of Dad’s punishment: “If you like running in the house so much, 6 laps around the house. Go.” (We didn't get rifles.)
Back at BYU, Dad’s roommate set him up on a blind date with a pretty girl who had the smallest waist Dad had ever seen. He called her “Ma’am” and she jokingly called him “Rex Stetson”. She was hungry and there was a package of Oreos in the car. She figured Dad was too handsome to be interested in her so she ate some. A lot of them, actually. This quite impressed Dad! He figured she was too beautiful to be interested in him so he ate heartily as well. And over a package of Oreos, they began to fall in love. Victoria Black was a smart, sophisticated beauty from California. Dad was a handsome without knowing it farm boy from Utah and together they were the perfect match. 60 years ago, on a freezing cold December 13, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Dad said their honeymoon never ended.
Dad taught school and they tried to start a family. 3 ½ years later Zera Todd was born and Dad remarked, “Tough as it was getting a family started, it took us about 16 years to get it turned off.”
Their children are: Zera Todd (Michelle) deceased, Cristi, Kelli (Clark Hicken), Chad (Jana), Erin (Beau Wagner), Julie (Scooter Barney, aka Stewart, aka Arnold), Craig (Sarah) and Brad (Alison). 29 grandchilren, 15 great-grands including 5 on the way.
Dad’s main career was the Director of Buildings and Grounds for Nebo School District. He loved his guys at Nebo. Dallan, Alan, Joe, Lee and more that I’m too fogged to remember. He loved the monthly lunches with them which meant the world to him. At Nebo he built schools, repaired boilers, hated the paperwork and politics and provided for his family. On the side he built cabinetry in the basement or garage, farmed, worked with his dear friend Keith Barber, served in Bishoprics, as Bishop, as Councilor in the Stake Presidency, built houses and made a home. He was a master craftsman with wood. But his masterpiece was and remains, the family he and Mom built.
We worked together. Our memories are covered in sawdust and the music of Eddie Arnold. The aroma of fresh cut wood was Dad’s only cologne. We worked in the yard and garden, sanded and painted a school bus-turned motorhome, helped Dad build our home on the East Bench of Spanish Fork, faced west so Dad and Mom could see the sunsets. We played together: played outside on the swing set Dad welding together from pipes, cards, went on Staheli campouts. He built a boat and pulled us and the ward youth all over Flaming Gorge. He played Tickle Monster, Bucking Bronco and gave us Chim Pie. He loved Mom. They took naps with the door locked. They went for drives and talked and always kissed when he got home from work. He loved her soup, spontaneous road trips and holding her hand. She always signed her name, “Mrs. Zera Staheli”. Dad could fix anything. A mechanic was never necessary; the do it all repairman was living on site. If Dad couldn’t fix it, it couldn’t be fixed. It didn’t matter what it was. Mom and Dad spent time with us; almost as if they kinda liked us around! They took us on Sunday drives, to visit our cousins, gave us love, affection, forgiveness, security, and the Gospel lived more than preached.
Dad loved the Bible, especially the Old Testament. He read Josephus for fun and worried about the fish when the Earth gets turned to glass. He served God and honored his testimony, bore it in simple ways and knew God when he met Him. Dad was totally honest. He would not lie or cheat. He would tell you the truth with gentle kindness but would never lie to be kind. He was a proud, private man. He took his role as a man, husband and father seriously. He was the Patriarch who led with love and respect and a rare swat on the backside that we knew we had coming. He supported and celebrated Mom and if ever there was a cardinal sin, it was sassing her. Try that and your sorry little self would make record time to you room courtesy of Dad’s boot. I believe this was only tested once.
Dad did all the hard things. He had the difficult conversations, made hard decisions, put down the hurt dog and the insane cat with rabies. He worked hard, slept little, lost his first son and only thanked God for Todd’s life on the day Todd died. He and Mom took over and raised Todd and Michelle’s 4 children with all the love and goodness they could give them. Wesley, Logan, Maddie and Carly brought joy to their dark days and they considered themselves blessed. Dad was never quite the same after Todd died. Part of his heart went with Todd and the sparkle in his eye was never as bright. In spite of his broken heart, he made joy for his family, took care of their hearts and taught them to pack wheel bearings with grease. Well, you should know these things.
He had such a soft heart for his family. His daughters and granddaughters knew the gentleness of his hands and hugs, the power of unconditional love, the generosity of his oversized heart and the smooth feel of his handmade rolling pins. One special Granddaughter tenderly cared for him and loved him out of this life. We are grateful. He was a hero to his sons and grandsons. They loved each other with the man-love that is seldom said in words but built on laughter and Man Stuff. They were so good to Dad; helped him with projects, could back up a trailer, install a wood stove, run to the gas station for a Pepsi or to lunch at Joe Banditos. He taught them to love the old Country Western music of Eddie Arnold, Jim Reeves and Johnny Horton. His grandsons have playlists of “Grandpa Music” and files of “Grandpa Quote of the Day”.
Forever a simple man, Dad loved BMW motorcycles, bike trips with his sons and grandsons, Mom playing the piano, lunch with Mike Hill, the open road, John Wayne, horses, WWII history and movies, Louis L’Amour, America, beautiful wood, God, and one woman. Thankfully that was Mom.
He very much disliked snakes (even if they were dead), doors being slammed, doors left open and heating the whole outside, not being able to hear, losing the strength in his legs. He once said, “The only mistake God made was not giving the body an off switch.” He did not like viewings or funerals.
Because of that, he firmly didn’t want a viewing or funeral for himself. A brief graveside dedication will be held Saturday, Jan. 29th at 1:00 pm at the Spanish Fork Cemetery for anyone who wants to attend. A Commemoration of a Life Well Lived will be at 2:00 that day at the Hobble Creek Stake Center (495 South Canyon Road, Springville). Zera L. Staheli. Big Z. Hun-bun, Dad and Grandpa. You are so dearly loved, needed, missed. We are blessed and better because of you. See ya later…
“I’ll be waiting here.
With my arms unfurled…
Waiting just for you,
Welcome to my world.”
-Jim Reeves, “Welcome to My World”
Life Story Info
Zera was my favorite partner on our off road ventures. We spent many hours in the Utah West Desert, the San Rafael Swell, Cathedral Valley, Canyonlands, Uinta Mountains, Book Cliffs, Duchesne River, Indian Canyon, Nine Mile Canyon with its many interesting pictographs, petroglyphs, Little Grand Canyon, Buckskin Wash, Reds Canyon, Eagle Canyon, Notch Peak, Amasa Basin, and many more than I can list. We shared a love for the Lord's creations, and a testimony of Jesus Christ that was and is among my treasured memories. Zera was always a great companion, always rather than talk of himself, would lead our conversation to have his friends share their experiences and opinions. A more Christlike person is not to be found on this earth.
I hope and pray that I may have the privilege in the next life to again visit with Zera.
-Blaine Palmer March 9, 2022
I met Grandpa and Grandma Staheli years ago in Saudi Arabia, when they visited Todd and his family there. Grandpa Staheli was a soft spoken man but with a big heart. I then had a chance to visit him, Grandma Staheli and Carly in Utah last 2014. it was my first time in Utah and didn't know then that it was my last time to see him alive. I am so much blessed to know the Staheli family. I feel my Savior's love in their presence. Until we meet again, Grandpa Staheli 🙏
Hello, I don't really read the obituaries but I stopped when I saw your fathers photo and my heart was so full and I couldn't help but read. I am sitting here in tears. I am so sorry for your loss, it sounds like he was surrounded by love, and comfort, and had all of the love to give as he cared and tended for his family. He lived a full life and I am so grateful to have been able to read his story and know about him, his family, and his memory.
I wish your family all the best as you are able to come together to celebrate this wonderful man and father.