Our beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend passed away September 14, 2020 at the age of 93, due to complications of age and several strokes. Donald was born in Salt Lake City, UT on August 6, 1927. He was the oldest of three children born to George O. Mantyla and Sylvia V. Jylha (Joki). He was proud of his pure Finnish lineage. His maternal grandmother, Lydia E. Nikkari, lived with the family and helped raise Don, sister, Darlene, and brother, Doug. His parents were religious and he was baptized into the Lutheran church when he was very young. The family attended church together every Sunday, which gave him a great religious foundation he desired. His parents taught Don and his siblings frugality, hard work, honesty, independence and service to others. His father would only pay cash for everything. Don followed this same principle throughout his life. He was extremely smart and skipped two grades in elementary school. He was very proud of his “straight A average”. Even though, Don was only 5’6”, he was a giant among men. He had a giant heart to love his fellowman and a giant “can do” attitude. He was very competitive and never backed down from a challenge. In high school, he joined ROTC and became the leader of the group.
After high school he attended the University of Utah to study engineering. He had just turned 16. After a year of college, he and his best friend decided to join the Navy. Their mothers had to sign for them to enlist because they were only 17. Don stayed in San Diego and became an assistant medic. He sewed up wounded soldiers, gave them morphine and sent them to bigger hospitals. Don’s interests changed from engineering to dentistry. When the War ended a year later, Don returned to the U. to study pre-dentistry. The next Fall watching the Homecoming Royalty, he spotted a petite girl in a red suit with long blonde hair. He told his buddy he was going to date her. He asked around and found out she was Colleen Clyde from Heber City. They dated and he left for Northwestern Dental School in Chicago the next Fall. He was 21. He proposed and they were married at Zion Lutheran Church on Dec. 23, 1948. They both worked while Don went to dental school. He studied three hours after school, then went to work in a Chinese laundry from 12 to 3am., then sleep three more hours, then go back to school. This lasted a year until Don got a paid TA position teaching the class a year behind him. After completing their 3rd year, Don and another friend from Utah, asked the Director if they could return to Utah to take the State Dental Boards. The Director had never seen anyone pass after their 3rd year before so he scoffingly said they could take it but, if they didn’t pass, they would have to stay and take a 5th year of school. Well, don’t give Don Mantyla because he will prove you wrong. Not only did they pass, but they were both tied for first place. They returned to dental school graduate and headed home. Thanks to the GI Bill and Don’s incredible work ethic he left dental school without any debt.
Upon returning, Don started his practice in Roosevelt UT. His patients called him the “boy” dentist because he was barely 25 and his skinny neck stuck out of his white shirt. Word spread that he was the “painless” dentist and people flocked to him from the small surrounding towns for their dental work. Don worked long, hard hours getting his practice up and running. It grew quickly. Don’s family grew fast, too. Three kids were added to his family. He worked long, hard hours and he needed a place to unwind and rejuvenate. The family bought a cabin in the nearby Uinta mountains. It was a true cabin in every sense of the word. Don loved to hunt and fish and the Uinta Mtns. were the perfect place for him. He was very active on numerous local, state and national Boards throughout the years. He remained an avid Ute fan and had season football and basketball tickets.
When he was 46, he had a miraculous experience and joined the LDS Church. As with everything he did in his life, he was 1000 percent committed. When he was 48, the Dr. told him he’d better slow down. He knew there was no way he could keep his practice and slow down. So he sold it and moved his family to Salt Lake. His contractor friend asked him to get his real estate broker’s license and help on a “small” building project. That small project was Jeremy Ranch. After about 3 years he wanted to do something else. The dentists in Utah felt like they needed malpractice insurance coverage. Don’s colleagues asked him to organize and build a dental malpractice insurance company for them. So, Don, once again, got an Insurance broker’s license. He then travelled the state and presented seminars to the dentists. They thought it sounded good and signed up. Professional Insurance Exchange (PIE) was born. Don ran the company for about 14 years.Then he hired and trained another dentist while he and Colleen served a mission on Temple Square. They loved their experiences working with the sister missionaries, the missionary couples, the mission presidency and the visitors. Don returned to PIE, and decided to get his law degree, since he was advising the attorneys about malpractice. He studied with a private law school and earned his degree when he was 72. For his final project, he wrote a book about malpractice insurance. His goal was to travel the western United States and present the malpractice book to various state dental associations. However, Colleen’s health had been declining for years, so he stayed with PIE and took care of her. He retired at age 85.
Faith in God has always been a driving force in Don’s life, and after a life-changing experiences, Don and Colleen served two missions; one to Temple Square and one to the Orlando FL Temple. These were tremendous opportunities to serve God’s children, and also to strengthen their love and devotion to each other. After returning from these missions, Don served in the Salt Lake Temple twice a week for 9 years. After finishing his shift he would stay and do an endowment. After Colleen died, Don did endowments four times a week. After his first stroke five years ago, his goal was to return to the temple. He always had a current recommend and was able to attend two of his grandkids' sealings. Don was a man of great faith and believed, no matter how much he tried, he could not serve the Lord enough. He believed being honest was the most important thing a person he could do, along with loving the Lord with his whole soul.
Don was preceded in death by the ‘love of his life’, Colleen, his youngest son, John Martin, and his beloved parents and grandparents. He is survived by his oldest son, Donald (Susan), and his daughter, Meredith (Daniel) Geertsen, 10 grandchildren and 4 adopted grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 4 adopted great-grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by all of us, but we know that he has returned to his loved ones, and is free now from the shackles of a compromised body. These words from an unknown author describe Don perfectly: “Each person is given the gift of time on this earth…to live…to learn…to love…and to leave a legacy.”
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Funeral is limited to close family members by invitation only at Holbrook Mortuary, 3251 South 2300 East, Millcreek, UT, on Saturday, September 19th. Viewing from 9:30-10:30. Funeral at 11:00. Services will be live-streamed for extended family and friends at 11:00 a.m. at www.holbrookmortuary.com. Click on Don’s picture and the full obituary and feed/video will come up. Interment for family will be at Heber City Cemetery, about 1:30 p.m..
Flowers can be sent to Holbrook Mortuary or, in lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints humanitarian fund.
For those attending the services, please remember to wear a mask and social distance.