On June 11, 2020, Debra Lavon West, passed away at Country Pines Retirement Community in Clinton, UT, with Neil Diamond singing “Sweet Caroline” in the background. Lavon was born April 4, 1936 in Roberts, Idaho, a small town North of Idaho Falls, to John and Sarah Estelle Lougee. She was the seventh of eight children born in the household. From her sister Lucille Cunningham’s obituary notice in August 2019, her “parents were very loving, hard-working people who struggled to get through rough times during the depression; nevertheless, the family laughed often, loved deeply and was a very close-knit group.” In great part due to her family’s influence, Lavon was known throughout her life as a “defender of the defenseless.”
Lavon was very intelligent. She attended a semester of college after graduating from high school. Not able to afford textbooks, she instead took extensive notes during the semester and ended up getting an A- in the course she was taking. Throughout her life she could often be found reading a book she borrowed from the library. Lavon's later work at the National City California Public Library was a natural result of her love of reading and books.
She married Donald Francis West in 1957. As the spouse of a career Navy officer, Lavon and their family lived in Virginia, Rhode Island and California. After her divorce, she moved to Utah and lived in and around Ogden the remainder of her days.
Lavon was an accomplished poet, artist and singer. Over the years all of her kids have been blessed by poems she wrote and illustrated for her grandkids. She created art from colored telephone wire, like her “rainbow” clowns and jewelry. She also drew doodle sketches which she shared freely. Lavon was a gifted singer with a beautiful alto voice and sang in many church choirs throughout her life.
Her faithful service as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped shape and mold Lavon. Throughout her life she accepted and fulfilled any assignments give her, including ward librarian, music leader in Primary, and compassionate service leader. After moving to Utah, she volunteered for, and honorably fulfilled a full-time mission in the Independence Missouri Mission. Of her many loves in life, Lavon had a deep love for the family history work that takes place in temples. Her belief and faith in the importance of ordinances received there was evident by her frequent attendance to do proxy work for others who, now like her, have finished their journey in mortality and have been received into the arms of mercy of a loving Savior.
Preceded in death by her grandparents, parents, her brothers Rulon and Don and her sisters Norma, Murel, Lucille and Shirley, as well as her former husband Don, Lavon is survived by her two daughters, Susan Garza and Debbie Ryder, her two sons, Brian and James, her youngest sister Joanne, her 17 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
A graveside funeral service was held Monday, June 15, 2020 at the Sharon Cemetery in Montpelier, Idaho, where she was buried next to her grandparents, parents and sister, Shirley.
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