Our beloved mother was born January 11, 1937 in Phoenix, AZ, to Chester Raymond Dong and Jennie King Look Dong. Anita was the oldest of three children. She married Donal Wilford Townley on June 29, 1960. They were sealed in the Salt Lake City Temple, December 1, 1965.
Anita was born at the end of the Great Depression. Her parents owned and operated the popular China Tea Garden restaurant in Phoenix, AZ, frequented by many celebrities of the day, one whom she sang for as a little girl. With the family living in small quarters above the restaurant, Anita initially worked alongside her parents for their family of five. Winning her first radio talent contest at age nine, Anita began vocal studies and became a well-known singer in the Phoenix and surrounding area. She would eventually receive an opportunity to study and perform professionally in NYC, but family financial demands kept her home. Years later, she would express gratitude for taking a different path that would eventually lead her to having her family and finding her faith.
After moving to Sacramento CA, Anita became the major provider for the family. She worked as a secretary at McClellan Air Force Base where she met a handsome financial officer, Donal Townley. She caught his attention after singing at a work party. During their courtship, Anita also began a meaningful investigation into what became her belief system throughout her life. Anita was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 22. Anita has since lived a faith-filled life, devoted to the beliefs she embraced.
Anita lived life dedicated to God, family and freedom, above all else. She devoted her life and love to bestowing the opportunities she didn’t have to her children. At great sacrifice, Anita ensured that her children received music lessons, excelled in school, and sought every opportunity available for them to achieve and excel in life. She and Don created family patriotic musical programs and their family travelled and performed. As the family gained attention with offers to join the music industry on a larger scale, Anita refused all offers, insisting she did not want her children dealing with the temptations or distractions of stardom. She was consistently and fiercely loyal to her children and grandchildren and was unabashed to stand for and defend them at all costs. She was a great voice of reason, wisdom, and advice for many people, old and young, through the years.
As a gifted, self-taught speed reader and prolific writer who grew up during an era of war, racism, and secular humanism in the public square and educational curricula, Anita’s extensive research led her on a path where her courageous soul was deeply stirred, inspiring her to become a devoted activist for God, family and country. She became a much sought-after public figure who spoke and participated in many national and state public forums, advocating for the protection of constitutional liberties, including advocacy for the protection of children in public education, and in defense of the unborn. As a natural-born leader, Anita was a great mentor and friend to many, both inside and outside her faith.
After her children were raised, Anita became an avid bowler and won many awards for her participation in local bowling leagues. She also was an avid BYU sports fan and Jazz fan, knowing all coaches, players and stats. For 30+ years, she never missed the broadcast of any game, via radio or television. However, of so many things Anita enjoyed, her biggest priority was always the Lord and her family.
Anita has been celebrated and honored with many awards, achievements, and titles, including three full-time missions: McAllen TX (with Donal), China, Hong Kong, and Family History, Salt Lake City; Mother of the Year; Relief Society President, Gospel Doctrine Sunday-School Teacher, Seminary Teacher, IWY Representative in Utah and Texas; Conservative Political Activist/Public Speaker for the protection of personal freedom and the Constitution; Regular guest on various Talk-Radio Shows; PTA President; League Bowler of the year.
Anita is survived by her children: Blenda McGary (Kirk), Donita Bitter (LeGrand), David Townley, Pamela Smith (Bret), and her sister, Sandra Estoque, and sister-in-law, Laura Dong. Anita is “Grandma T” to 23 grandchildren, and “PauPau” to 72 great grandchildren, with three more on the way. Anita was preceded in death by her eternal companion, Donal; grandson; Ty McGary; twin great-granddaughters: Claire and Brynn Rich; father: Chester Raymond Dong (Bock Jung Soohoo); mother: Jennie King Look Dong; brother: Calvin Dong and brother-in-law: Emilio Estoque.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, June 15, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Chapel, 535 W. 2700 S., Syracuse, Utah. Friends may visit with family Wednesday, June 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lindquist’s Layton Mortuary, 1867 No. Fairfield Rd., Layton, Utah and Thursday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the church prior to the funeral service.
Services will be livestreamed by scrolling to the bottom of the obituary page at lindquistmortuary.com.
Interment, Lindquist’s Memorial Park at Layton.
Everything we are or ever hope to be, we owe to our Angel mother.
God be with you until we meet again dearest Mom!