Jay K Donaldson was born on December 27, 1925, in Ogden, Utah to Mary Elizabeth Doxey and John Kissel Donaldson. He passed away peacefully in his home on October 31, 2022.
Jay grew up on a farm during the Great Depression with eight siblings and seven half-siblings. He spent mornings milking cows and evenings gathered at the dinner table. It wasn’t uncommon to have drop-in guests, since Jay’s “angel mother” fed anyone passing through. He revered his parents with all his heart.
Jay conversed in stories. He loved reminiscing about his childhood–diving at the swimming hole, playing ice hockey on the river, and wrestling with his brothers. He treasured his siblings and was treasured by them in return.
After his military service and mission, Jay received his B.S. in Accounting from The University of Utah–where he met his sweetheart, Lila. Jay and Lila married in the Salt Lake Temple on August 7, 1953. He adored Lila and was dedicated to an equal partnership in parenting, education, and career.
Jay valued learning. After his bachelors, he taught at the Intermountain Navajo boarding school. This experience inspired him to pursue a Doctorate in Educational Psychology from Brigham Young University. He spent most of his career as the Director of Title I for the Utah State Board of Education to improve equitable education opportunities.
Jay loved family time. For decades, Jay and Lila took their children on annual trips to Yellowstone with extended family. The week was filled with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins having non-stop fun. Jay saw every season as an opportunity for new outdoor activities. Summertime was for hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and teaching others how to float effortlessly. Wintertime was spent on the slopes–skiing, chatting on the chairlifts, and simply taking in nature’s beauty. All seasons were for playing cards and board games.
Jay had a propensity for adventure. Age couldn’t contain his zeal for life. He seemed almost invincible—he summited Utah’s highest peak at 75, slalom waterskied at 86, and used a chainsaw to cutdown a tree at 95.
No matter the situation, Jay was unwaveringly true to his internal moral code. He had a quiet strength others admired. Over the years, Jay’s family was told numerous stories about his honesty, kindness, and integrity. People shared the stories because they knew Jay never would. He was humble to his core.
Jay loved to serve. He built and landscaped his home and was happy to lend his skills to others. Late into his life, Jay was still found helping his children with home renovations and yard work. In the summertime, family and neighbors enjoyed deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables from his trees and garden.
Jay loved the gospel of Jesus Christ. He served in the New England States Mission without purse or script. He served faithfully in many callings for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including temple worker and guide at the Conference Center.
Jay’s family was his world. Whatever was important to them was important to him. He was kind-hearted, tolerant, and non-judgmental. Even at 96 years of age, Jay was quick to apologize. His unconditional love was as strong as his bear hugs. He had a smile that stretched across the entirety of his face, a laugh that filled rooms, and a signature wink which always accompanied his quick-witted quips. He will be dearly missed.
He is survived by five siblings: Joan Quinn, Helen Bingham, Paul Donaldson, Barbara Nelson, and Carol Checketts. Four children: Jana Lee (Steven) Barrett, Lynn Clark Donaldson, Diane (David) Urry, and Deborah Ann (Ward) Willoughby. Nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, parents, half-siblings, and four siblings: Ralph Donaldson, Ruth Brown, David Donaldson, and Harold Donaldson.
Funeral services will be held Monday, November 7, 2022, 12pm at the East Mill Creek 12th Ward chapel, 3103 E Craig Dr, SLC, Utah. Friends may call at the church on Sunday from 6-8pm and Monday from 10:30-11:30am. The family appreciates the tender care provided to Jay in his final months. Thank you to Danville Care Center, Beverly Dortch, and Uini Fiefia.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Alzheimer’s Association or Utah Food Bank.
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