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Ogden, Utah- Vernon Wilkes, 90, died Thursday, May 10, 2018. Vern was born September 26, 1927, in Hanna, Wyoming. He is the son of William and Lucy Ann Woodhead Wilkes. Vern was born and raised in the coal camps of Wyoming where, along with his siblings, was taught value of hard work. It was during these years that he learned the importance of understanding and working with people from all walks of life. He remained generous to all and non-judgmental of anyone until his death. Vern entered the coal mines at age 14 due to the outbreak of WW2. He, along with his brothers and many others, produced more coal tonnage than any other mine in America. He was not allowed to enter military service because America needed the coal for the war effort. Vern cherished his family heritage and shared many stories about his childhood. Vern loved to attend the yearly Wyoming coal mine reunions and reminisce about the "way America was and should be".
It was in Superior, Wyoming that Vern developed his greatest skill- beating the odds. He was hit by a car at age 11 breaking most of the major bones in his body. His family was told he would not do well if he survived. He proved his resilience time after time, six bypasses, triple A surgery at age 87, black lung, and hip replacement a few weeks ago.
He was later drafted into the Army and served in the Bavarian Alps where he received the Germany Occupation Medal. After the coal mines closed, Vern moved to Utah where he met and married Gail Clawson. They were later divorced. He met and married his soul mate, Elva Beus, in 1971 and they have been inseparable since. Vern worked in the oil fields and construction business until entering Federal employment as an aircraft sheet metal mechanic. Vern retired from Hill Air Force Base and lived in Mountain Green until declining health required their move into assisted living.
Vern was preceded in death by his parents, brothers John, Raymond, and Robert along with sisters Joyce, Marilyn, and Francis. He was also preceded in death by children Rebecca Smith and Deborah Crozier. Vern is survived by his wife and children Dan Smith, Brad (Martine) Wilkes, Trisha (Ross) Deubler, Russ Crozier, and Debbie (Todd) Christensen. He was also survived by numerous grandchildren and great-grand children who all gave him great joy.
The family would like to thank all of those at Mountain Ridge Assisted Living for the care given to Vern and Elva along with friends Darrel and Edlo. The people at Encompass Hospice are truly angels. We are also grateful for the watchful eye of Jeff Madsen, the greatest neighbor ever. Cremation is entrusted to Aaron's Mortuary in Ogden. Vern did not wish for any services only that some of his ashes be scattered in an unknown coal mine in an unknown state and some mingled with his wife's.
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