Farmington Resident Celebrates 100 Years
Wallace Gatrell 100th Birthday on January 25th
Wallace Gatrell grew up in Salt Lake City. As a member of the Utah National Guard, he was activated into the Army in early 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt federalized the National Guard. His unit arrived in Hawaii two weeks after Pearl Harbor and served on multiple islands as the US advanced across the Pacific. Wallace began his army service in artillery. He was wounded in Korea, recovered quickly and went back out to fight. Around 1962 he changed to finance. When Wallace was transferred to a new location, the Gatrell family typically traveled with him. Together they lived in three countries.
Wallace and his wife Ruth had eight children. Traveling as a group of ten often earned them curious attention. Wallace completed his accounting degree at the University of Utah nineteen years after war had interrupted his studies. Later, he earned a master's degree from the University of Richmond.
Many summers the Gatrells drove across the country to visit Wallace's family in Salt Lake and Ruth's family in Farmington. Utah pulled at them until eventually they moved to the west and settled in Farmington. Wallace began work for the State Health Department in finance.
The experiences the Gatrells had as a military family ingrained in each of them a deep patriotism. Living on army posts, Wallace's children remember the flag being raised every morning to the sound of reveille. Four of Wallace's five sons served on active duty. His posterity has served in the Army (including two Blackhawk pilots), Navy, Marines, Air Force, and the Merchant Marine.
Wallace's wife, Ruth Barton Gatrell, was a Farmington native. A great promoter of local talent, Ruth's group, the Ruth Gatrell Singers, performed many concerts for the community and Wallace was always in attendance as her best supporting man. Ruth passed away three years ago.
Now that the time for travel, home repairs, church service, and the bustle of family life have slowed down, Wallace can reflect and relax. He continues to be a voracious reader, particularly of historical fiction. His one hundred years have not dulled his sharp wit. When asked about details of his youth he responded, "One of the symptoms of old age is losing your memory. I can't remember what the other symptoms are."
Date & Time
January 25, 2021
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