Grand marshals in Sanpete County bring a wealth of love, life to the valley
MORONI—The most unique thing about the Aagard family, according to Kim Aagard, is their love of all things patriotic.
As Grand Marshalls for the 2017 Moroni City Mammoth Parade on July 4, both Kim and his wife Anna will lead the city in a remembrance of our nation’s founding.
The Aagards have been residents of Moroni for the majority of their married life and have religiously supported and enjoyed Moroni City’s Fourth of July festivities.
Kim’s childhood was spent in Fountain Green. After his family moved to Salt Lake City to be closer to the family sheep business, he found his way back to Sanpete and graduated from North Sanpete High School.
“You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” Kim is fond of saying about his love of Sanpete County.
Kim worked as a sheep rancher for 35 years. Before ranching, he owned a trucking business for eight years. His love for vehicles began as a small child, and he had mastered driving a 1951 GMC two-ton truck by age eight. Vehicles of all kinds have been a lifelong interest, and keeping them well maintained and clean is his passion.
After serving as Moroni Stake President from 1986-1995, Kim is still loved and respected due to his genuine love and interest in people. To this day, he serves people of the community on an individual basis through his strongest attributes—patience, listening, and discerning. Currently, Kim and Anna serve in the Manti Temple as ordinance workers, and Kim also serves as a sealer.
Aside from the years she obtained her education, Anna has been a lifelong resident of Moroni. As a young girl, she enjoyed participating in typical activities of the city such as 4-H, softball and breeding show turkeys. As an adult, she served as a member of the first Moroni City Planning Commission and said she believes the greatest benefit of living in Moroni is the closeness of a small community.
Beginning at age eight, Anna said she spent countless hours learning to play the piano. She has used this talent throughout her life to serve the community, school, and church. By seventh grade, she was the choir accompanist, and by the time she got to high school she served as the ward organist. She has served in that capacity ever since.
For 30 years, Anna was a business teacher at North Sanpete High School. Her students and family will agree that her success as a teacher was due to how much she cared about the success of her students. Willing to go the extra mile, she allowed her students to call or come to her home until 10 p.m. to get help with and drop off their assignments. Many times, they were welcomed with warm chocolate chip cookies.
“We feel that (our) family is our greatest accomplishment,” Anna said.
Kim and Anna have four daughters (Maria, Melanie, April and Mary Jane), 18 grandchildren and one great-grandson. Their focus has always been on keeping their family close to one another and creating memories.
MANTI—For Doug and Valerie Dyreng, the importance of the Manti Fourth of July celebration can be summed up in their feelings regarding not just the multitude of events in Sanpete County, but for what the day means to the nation as a whole.
It is with this in mind, and in recognition of their years of service to the community, that the couple has been named as the Manti parade grand marshals for 2017. “We love this country, and we love what this country stands for,” said Doug, a retired educator at Snow College and former president of the Mormon Miracle Pageant. “The Fourth of July is the day we mark to remember the founding of the greatest country on earth.”
For Valerie, the day holds patriotic meaning, especially given the military service her father and two of her children gave for the freedoms we enjoy here at home.
“It’s a celebration of our great land and freedoms,” Valerie said. “I feel especially patriotic about the Fourth because my father served in World War II and we have two boys that served in Iraq, so it’s always meant a lot to me because it is a blessing to see up close the sacrifice the military men and women have given.
“I see what an individual impact lives have made when it comes to our freedoms here in the United States,” Valerie said.
Doug and Valerie met at Brigham Young University in the 1960s. They were married in the Manti Temple in 1972 and subsequently moved to Los Angeles, where Doug was a training director and human resource manager for the Olga Companies.
The Dyrengs returned to Manti in the mid-1970s, and Doug took on work with his father at Apex Hatcheries before beginning his career in education at Snow College, where he was a business instructor and dean of the school of business. Valerie’s career path flourished after her children grew to adulthood; she returned to college to finish her degree and worked at Manti Elementary School for more than a decade.
The Sanpete Valley also represents a part of Utah where they say a family can raise children in not just a patriotic and values-based environment, but in a place where safety and security for young men and women reign supreme.
“The main reason we came back here (from LA) was for that reason specifically, to raise a family,” Doug said. “We could not think of a better place to bring up our kids than the Sanpete Valley, and Manti in particular.”
Valerie echoed her husband’s sentiment, adding that the benefits to kids are innumerable here in the valley.
“It’s great to have a small community where kids can have a lot of freedoms and a lot of opportunities,” Valerie said. “For our kids, it was a chance for them to learn hard work and also to participate in a lot of athletics, pageants and other activities. It’s an abundance of activities for families and children that want it.”
The Dyrengs have six children (David, Darren, Scott, Holly, Brad and Paul) and 17 grandchildren.
When it comes to callings in their ward, the Dyrengs have been exceptionally active as well, with Doug serving as a stake president and bishop. Doug’s service in the pageant presidency is especially sweet, given that his mother, Helen Dyreng, was a founder of the annual event.
Valerie, a past Relief Society president, was recently called as a counselor in her ward.
- PLEASANT—As a young man, Reed Thomas discovered early on that he loved the Sanpete Valley—A place where his family’s pioneer roots date back to the mid-1800s and his grandfather, William Jensen, was born in Mt. Pleasant in 1875.
Now, Thomas, a third-generation native of Sanpete County, and his wife Robyn are being honored this year as the grand marshals of the Hub City Days Fourth of July parade.
The couple married in 1966 and has raised a family that includes six children (Gregory, Sean, Shannon, Dana, Shane and Troy), 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016.
After graduating from North Sanpete High School in 1959 and teaching in California and Nevada for a decade, Reed took on employment as an educator at his alma mater for 27 years. It was at that time that he helped many young men and women succeed in both their education and life skills. Robyn, a native of Southern California, graduated from Yucaipa High School in 1961. The two met at Fort Ord in California and married in the Los Angeles temple.
“Family has always been a ten-out-of-ten for me and Robyn,” Thomas said. “We’re a close family, and that includes my grandkids and two great-grandkids.”
Thomas is also the author of Sidekicks: Helping Youth Succeed Against The Odds, a book chronicling his efforts to transform North Sanpete students into high schoolers who are involved and interested in education, and encourages them to head into the world, diploma in hand.
“Education is very important, and I put a high priority on my students having a lot of grit,” Thomas said. “It’s required for one to be successful, I believe, and I think it is almost more important than having intelligence sometimes. Without grit, a student won’t get very far. When they get that diploma, it shows a sign of that.”
While education may have been his life’s work, Thomas has also given much of his time and energy to civic causes in the Mt. Pleasant area. In 1976, he contributed to the rebuilding of the outdoor arena and helped introduce high school rodeo to the county as co-chair of the Hub City Days Rodeo Committee.
Thomas also organized and chaired the National Day of the American Cowboy Celebration in Mt. Pleasant and served as the vice president of the construction committee of ConToy Indoor Arena while sitting on the Mt. Pleasant City Council.
“My focus has been with horses and rodeo because I grew up in that type of environment, so my main contribution has been in that area,” Thomas added. “It’s a joy to see the high schoolers taking part in activities like this in Mt. Pleasant and from around the county.”
Thomas was recently released as high priest group leader, while Robyn is currently a family history consultant for their ward.
When asked what he loves most about the Hub City Days events that come annually to Mt. Pleasant, Thomas said he believes the family-centered events are good for residents and visitors alike.
“It brings the community together,” Thomas said. “I really think every community in Utah should have celebrations like this because it increases the closeness of the people here.”
GUNNISON—The 2017 grand marshals for the July 4 parade in Gunnison are Roger and Bonnie Jensen.
They are both natives of the Gunnison Valley and have enjoyed living here many years. Although they have spent many years in the valley, they said the years they lived away were filled with many happy times visiting family in Gunnison and Mayfield as well as camping, fishing and hunting in Twelve Mile Canyon.
Roger is the son of the late Calvin and Matilda Jensen of Mayfield. He attended the old Mayfield Elementary School and graduated from Manti High School. Bonnie is the daughter of the late Lenard and Florence Buchanan of Gunnison. She attended school in Gunnison and then spent a year at Brigham Young University.
They were high school sweethearts, and both graduated from Snow College after they were married. This year they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Roger pursued his education at Utah State University, followed by a career as an engineer at Thiokol and Sperry Univac, which took them from Logan (where they lived for 11 years) to East Midvale (for 13 years) and then back to Gunnison when Sperry had a plant in Ephraim.
“We had always wanted to return to the valley and jumped at the chance to relocate back to Gunnison in 1981,” Roger said.
Bonnie worked in the educational system after her children were in school. She worked as a librarian in three different elementary schools in Jordan School District and had the opportunity to be a para-educator in her daughter Michele’s kindergarten classroom at Gunnison Elementary. Later on, she volunteered at the middle school for a year.
The Jensens built their home in Gunnison, which they designed and constructed themselves.
“It has been a delight (for us) to be close to 12 mile, where we have gone fishing and exploring since our childhoods and courtship,” Bonnie added. “(We) have created a beautiful yard and always have a plentiful garden that they share every year. Traveling with friends and family has always been a favorite pastime for us.”
They just returned from a cruise to Alaska with all three of their children and several other family members.
They are faithful, lifelong members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They have both been actively involved; Roger served as a member of four different bishoprics, including two at the Central Utah Correction Facility, as Elder’s Quorum President and High Priest’s group leader. Bonnie has served in many callings as well, including a Relief Society presidency and primary presidency.
After coming back to Gunnison, Roger was introduced to the Lions club. He has been extremely active in the service organization, serving as vice president, president for two years, secretary, a member of the board of directors and treasurer. He is currently serving as treasurer, where his record-keeping and organizational skills have been of great worth.
They both have enjoyed working with many wonderful members of the Lions Club and the community. Both Roger and Bonnie spend every Fourth at the park helping with the celebration and have drafted their children and grandchildren to help as well. Roger has always willingly shared his building skills to help with community projects including roofing of the park pavilions, the building of the Lions Club pavilion, the cemetery entry sign and the Riverwalk Bridge. They organized the visit from Santa for several years and have always helped with the decorations for the community Christmas tree.
They are the parents of three children, Janice (Bob) Bown, John (Laurie) Jensen and Michele (Brian) Jensen. They are pleased that all of their children reside here in the Gunnison Valley, along with many of their 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.