Helpful neighbors honored with annual Axtell Walking Stick Award
By Suzanne Dean
FISHLAKE NATIONAL FOREST—A couple who moved to Axtell 12 years ago and since then have developed a reputation for helping their neighbors received the Axtell Walking Stick last week.
The honor, given each year to an Axtell resident or couple who have symbolically walked many miles in service to the community, was presented to Stan and Linda Jorgensen during a Pioneer Day picnic at the Anthony Flats campground in Willow Creek Canyon.
“They’re very hard working in our community and very hard working in our ward,” Bishop Russell Otten of the Axtell Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said just before announcing the names of the recipients.
With light rain falling, three of the couple’s adult children and their spouses, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild stood to the side under umbrellas as the Jorgensens were honored.
“We had a lot of friends up north, but nothing like here,” Stan Jorgensen said.
“We love it here,” his wife, Linda, added.
A daughter, Tonna Brooks of Pleasant Grove, said she and her siblings love to visit their parents on their 2-acre property. “We just enjoy Axtell,” she said. “We’re so glad our parents live here.”
This year, the community handed out two walking sticks. The other stick went to Tim Hill in recognition of his late wife, Joan, who established the Walking Stick award in 2003.
But the main honorees were the Jorgensens. Stan Jorgensen spent most of his career as the maintenance supervisor for Dyno Nobel, an explosives manufacturer in Utah County. According to Brooks, Stan and Linda lived in the same house in American Fork for 40 years.
“My dad always wanted a place for his horses,” his daughter said. “He’s a country boy at heart.”
So when Stan retired, the Jorgensens announced they were selling their house and moving to Axtell. Their children asked, “‘Where the heck is Axtell?’ None of us had even heard of Axtell before,” Brooks said in a tribute to her parents as part of the Walking Stick presentation. “But we packed them up and moved them to this wonderful town.”
Besides two horses, Stan has an Amish-style carriage. He likes to hitch his horses to the carriage and give rides to neighbors.
He loves to go horseback riding with a neighbor, Brooks said, although one ride ended in him going to the hospital for stitches and another in a broken foot.
According to their daughter, the Jorgensens are always doing something for someone. Frequently, when she calls her parents, her father is at someone’s house helping build a fence, tilling soil or fixing something that’s broken, she said.
Her mother frequently visits the Community Living Center in Centerfield to sing for residents. “She is always baking something to take to a neighbor, or looking for ways she can help by babysitting someone’s children so they can have a break, or just writing a kind note to someone.”
Since the Jorgensens moved to Axtell, they have served three LDS missions—one to Sixth Crossing in Wyoming (the site in Lander where many handcart pioneers got snowed in and died), Cove Fort and Nauvoo.
Brooks said one of the children’s favorite memories is helping decorate their dad’s horse-drawn wagon so it could serve as the Axtell Ward entry in one of the Gunnison Valley Christmas parades.
The prize for the best entry in the parade is a leg lamp—a lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg, as portrayed in the movie, “The Christmas Story.”
“The look on his face when the Axtell Ward won the leg lamp…was priceless,” she said. “He was so excited to put that leg lamp in the front window” of his home.
The Jorgensens have five children, 25 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Their children live in Nevada, Idaho and Utah.