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Davis Journal

Wilford Roy Van Orman

W. Roy “Doc V. O.” Van Orman passed away peacefully and pain-free on the morning of Sept. 12, 2023, after a brief battle with a brain tumor. 

Roy was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada on July 21, 1937, the oldest of Wilford “Wicky” Smith Van Orman and Laural Jane Platt’s 11 children. He grew up between the towns of Raymond, Cardston and Taber, Alberta, where his dad worked as a foreman at the sugar factories. In his youth, Roy was active in Boy Scouts, Canadian Air Cadets, and as a Canadian, developed a love for the sport of ice hockey. His town hockey team won the Alberta provincial championship in 1950.

When Roy was 14, his family moved from Canada to Salt Lake City in search of better work and education. He attended Bountiful High School and graduated from Davis High School in 1955. During his high school years, Roy developed a love for cars, running and dancing. When he was not helping his family build their home in the foothills of Bountiful, he was training as a distance runner, working on cars, or attending dances at Lagoon, the Terrace Ballroom, Rainbow Rendezvous, Saltair, or other venues. In 1955, Roy won the prestigious “All Church Mile.” 

Roy was one of the first missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be called to Hong Kong and served there for three years from 1958-61. He maintained lifelong friendships with many of his fellow missionaries and people he met during his mission. He also developed a love for the Chinese people and returned several times to tour the country, including a trip to attend the Hong Kong Temple dedication in 1996. Roy continued to serve faithfully within the Church for the rest of his life.

Upon returning from Hong Kong, Roy began what would become a lengthy tenure in education when he enrolled at BYU. After a short stint at BYU, he transferred to Weber State College. While at Weber, Roy joined Excelsior fraternity, and was very active in a variety of organizations on campus including time as a student senator where he learned “Robert’s Rules of Order.” More importantly, he met and fell in love with Kathleen Dayton. The two were sealed in the Logan Utah Temple on Friday, the 13th of September 1963. 

Roy went on to finish a degree in Sociology at Weber State. He later completed a Masters in Social Work from the University of Utah during which time, his daughter, Lauri, and son, Layne were born. After graduation, he began working for the Davis County Welfare Department and was subsequently made the “Specialist on Aging” at the Utah Welfare Department. While working at the state, he received a scholarship to study at the University of Southern California Andrus Gerontology Center where he graduated with a Masters in Public Administration and a Teaching Certificate in Graduate Social Work.

After moving back to Bountiful, his son Lyle, and daughter, Lynsey were born, and Roy took a two-year position teaching social work at Boise State University. Roy then returned to Weber State College where he taught gerontology and social work for 30 years until his retirement at age 70. While teaching at Weber, he served as President of the Alumni Association, served on the Board of Trustees, and was twice voted “Professor of the Year.” He served as the faculty advisor for Beta Theta Pi fraternity and was instrumental in establishing Weber State’s first hockey team in 1994 on which both his sons played. During his 15 years as faculty advisor, he helped counsel and shape the lives of countless athletes and fraternity brothers helping them successfully complete their educations. 

For many years, he taught a class about facilities for the elderly in rural areas that culminated with students running the Colorado River near Moab, Utah. Because, after all his world travels, he still felt that this area was, “the most beautiful in the world and many Utahns haven’t even been there.” He was active in the American Gerontological Society and served as the national president of the American Society on Aging. He and his colleagues in aging helped to establish the first two hospice agencies in Utah and were responsible for legislation to recognize Living Wills in the state. His personal education culminated with a Doctorate of Education from Brigham Young University and earned his nickname, “Doc V. O.”

Roy was a rabid youth sports fan and attended most of his children’s sporting events, many of his grandchildren’s events and even travelled cross country to watch his grandsons’ football games. He remained a distance runner for much of his life, completing six marathons. 

One of Roy’s lifelong passions was collecting parts and working on old cars; more specifically, Ford Model A’s. He loved to look for parts at swap meets or in fields while driving around the country. More than once he strapped a car body or frame to the roof of his Pinto and drove it home. He is past president of both the Beehive A’s and Salty A’s car clubs. At age 75, Roy and his car buddies completed and raced a car built from Model T and Model A parts at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The “Salt Flats Speedster” reached a top speed of 97.8 MPH. His car buddies, “The Lunch Bunch,” have a standing lunch date every Monday through Saturday at the local Wendy’s, where they talk cars, spin yarns, and solve the world’s problems.

Roy loved to travel with his wife Kathy. Together, they visited countless countries and all seven continents. They saw the Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China. They floated the Amazon, Nile, and Danube Rivers. They rode camels on the plains of Mongolia, the Gobi Desert and Egypt They walked on Red and Tiananmen Squares. They swam in the Dead Sea, the Red Sea and the Sea of Cortez. They held a baby panda in China, and ate all kinds of interesting foods along the way. While in Egypt, he even “convinced” a guard to let him climb the Great Pyramid of Giza. The guard climbed with him and met him with a “good luck” kiss when they reached the top. His favorite trip was a cruise to Antarctica where he and Kathy walked with penguins. Having maintained his fluency in Cantonese throughout his life, he surprised many an unsuspecting Chinese tourist during his world travels. Always the consummate thrill seeker, he went sky diving to celebrate his 80th birthday, and as he put it, “I’ve lived a charmed life.”

He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Kathleen Dayton Van Orman, his children, Lauri (Michael) Klauss, Layne (Sharla) Van Orman, Lyle (Emily) Van Orman, and Lynsey (Jeremy) Allred, his 14 grandchildren and five great-grandsons, and siblings Mark, Clark, Jeanne, Judy, Barbara, Shirley, James, and Vickey. He was preceded in death by his parents and sisters Sharon Rose and Sharolyn “Sherry” Craven.

Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, at the LDS Chapel on 200 W. 200 North, Bountiful at noon. Family and friends may pay their respects from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. prior to the services. Interment of his ashes will occur on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023 at the Bountiful City Cemetery during a private family service.

The Van Orman family would like to thank the incredible staff at Creekside Adult and Assisted Living, A+ Hospice, Intermountain Health, Care Center of Utah, and Heartlight Affordable Funeral Services. The family would also like to thank Roy’s car buddies for helping recycle much of his collection.

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