Our beloved Mother and Grandmother, REA MAE [CLODFELTER] WHICKER, was born in Garden City, Kansas, on December 6, 1934, and “graduated” this life on June 29, 2022, at the age of 87. The only child of Forrest Solomon and Edith Mae [Rintoul] Clodfelter, Rea enjoyed traveling the country with her parents and spending time with her cousins, aunts, and uncles. Being born during the Great Depression and in the middle of the Dust Bowl of Western Kansas very much influenced her parents’ lifelong frugality and sense of gratitude, and thus Rea strongly carried these traits.
In 1945, at age 10, she met Ben R. Whicker at a Christian Church Camp on Grand Mesa in Colorado – after which Ben decided the little girl with the long dark pigtails was the one he would someday marry. Later, Rea attended Grand Junction High School (CO) where she excelled in Marching Band as well as her studies, especially Latin, Math, and Journalism. Her children can attest to having benefited from her understanding of Latin, and her math skills remained prominent decades later. In her youth, she became a pianist and in adulthood would become an organist. She had a strong singing voice and loved to have her family stand around the piano and sing with her as she played on Sunday evenings.
This was followed by a tradition her own parents had begun: a light supper of popcorn, cheese, apples, and home-canned grape juice while the family (and any visitors) engaged in stimulating conversation. Her future husband (the boy from Camp) transferred to a neighboring high school a few years later, where he was happy to pursue the goal he’d set on Grand Mesa in 1945 by dating his future bride. Rea and Ben were married in the Clifton (CO) Christian Church on December 27, 1951. Their first child, born in 1953, was followed by 8 more siblings. This beautiful and youthful “only child” would also become the beloved grandmother to 51 grandchildren and 90 great-grandchildren.
In 1959, Rea and Ben joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were baptized in Wilmington, Delaware, near where Ben was stationed with the Air Force. A year later, the young family traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to be sealed for time and all eternity. When Ben left the Air Force, they decided to move to Utah and eventually found their dream home in Kaysville, Utah, in 1966. The home required a lot of work, and among other things, Rea learned to lay linoleum in the house she loved, served, and lived in for the remainder of her life.
Because Ben’s career as a flight engineer required him to be gone for weeks at a time, Rea was the only adult in a houseful of rowdy children for many years, gardening, canning, sewing, doing endless laundry and stretching the budget so all those hungry mouths could be fed. A child could only open the refrigerator with permission! She became a friend to her children, who leaned heavily on her political and religious perspectives, but – first and foremost – she was Ben’s best and most loyal friend throughout his life.
Living near the Salt Lake Genealogical Library, Rea took the opportunity to become a professional genealogist. She did family history research for people all over the world who either could not get to Salt Lake or did not know how to research on their own. She also used her journalism skills to write a column on family history for an Ohio publication called The Kin-Tree Roundup. She traveled throughout the United States and enjoyed two trips to Europe in search of genealogical clues and history. She was later astonished at how much easier her work became with the advent of the internet.
More often, Rea traveled either alone or with Ben to help children or grandchildren who were in need of assistance. She and Ben also owned and managed the Hug-A-Day Child Care Center on 200 North in Kaysville for several years starting in 1987.
In 1994, Rea’s parents added a spacious 2-bedroom apartment to the back of the family home and moved in to spend the remainder of their days with their only child looking after them. This brought joy and peace to Rea and the entire family. The attached apartment would also become the home from which Ben and Rea both “graduated” while attended by caregivers (both related and professional), all under the watchful and dedicated eye of their youngest child, Ryanne.
Rea is survived by eight of her children: Rea Jo (David) Walton, Glenn Richard (Pamela), Charles Forrest, Benjamin Mark (Connie), Jeffrey Paul (Lynda), Rachael Mae, Fred Stewart (Penny), and Beulah Ryanne. Matthew John, her fifth son, was killed in 1996 and his wife, Katrina, and their children have remained an integral part of the family. Rea is also predeceased by her husband, Ben R. Whicker; her parents, Forrest S. and Edith Mae Clodfelter; her parents-in-law, Benjamin A. and Beulah B. Whicker; a grandson, Steven (son of Charles); and two granddaughters, Angel (daughter of Ryanne) and Katilyn (daughter of Glenn and Pam).
Special thanks to Inspiration Hospice and Canyon Hospice for helping Mom and the entire family to navigate the past months of her life.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, July 9, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. at the Kaysville 13th Ward, 875 East 200 North, Kaysville, Utah. Friends may visit with family Saturday from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. at the Church prior to the services.
Interment, Kaysville City Cemetery.
Services will be live-streamed and may be viewed at www.lindquistmortuary.com by scrolling to the bottom of Rea’s obituary page.