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Forrest Leland Staffanson, age 92, bravely passed away on Sunday, January 10th, 2021 at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah. He left us only long enough to turn and greet his wife and sweetheart, RoLayne Rich Staffanson, age 88, who passed away at home just three days later on January 13th. Both succumbed to complications brought on by the COVID-19 Virus. We, their family are heart-broken for the loss of our dear parents, but we are grateful they were blessed to leave this world together.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, January 30th at 11 a.m. for the Staffanson Family, and will be live-streamed at www.staffansons.com where a recording will be available for later viewing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no public viewing/visitation. Interment will be at the Myers Evergreen Memorial Park in Ogden. We request family and friends pay their respects by posting memories of Forrest and RoLayne here on their "Tribute Wall". In lieu of flowers, please consider making a "Tribute" donation in memory of "Forrest and RoLayne Staffanson" to the Boys and Girls Clubs. We express gratitude to the medical professionals who have cared for our parents, including those most recently at McKay Dee Hospital, Symbii Hospice, and Myers Mortuary.
Forrest was born in Lompoc, California, the oldest son of Leland “Lee” Staffanson and Shirley Forrest Staffanson. He spent his childhood living in Johns Manville Company housing where his father worked as an operator of heavy excavation equipment. Forrest learned the value of work from his handyman father, tending to various animals and farming responsibilities. He enjoyed 4H, Sea Scouts, building model airplanes, radios, and tinkering with cameras. Influenced by his mother, Forrest valued education and developed a love of music, starting violin lessons in kindergarten, learning to play the mellophone in the high school marching band, and plucking the double bass in a local dance band during his first years in college.
Forrest participated in every sport, mostly warming the bench, but finally discovered his talent as a long-distance runner. His success on the high school track team earned him a scholarship to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Physics. Anxious to advance his education, he moved to Provo, Utah and attended Brigham Young University, receiving his Master of Science in Physics in August, 1952.
Murray, Utah was the birthplace for RoLayne, the second of three daughters born to Samuel Ansel Rich and Tessie Fewkes Rich. While Ansel worked for Kennecott Copper Corp. at the Garfield Smelter, RoLayne enjoyed a childhood filled with school, reading, singing, playing the piano, and sewing. Her parents instilled in her a strong work ethic, as she learned to garden, cook, bake bread, and keep an immaculate house. By 1946, Ansel took the family north and settled in Emmett, Idaho. RoLayne’s hobbies took a back seat to chores on the farm, milking cows, mucking out the barn, and driving teams of horses during the hay harvest. After enduring one year of junior high in a two-room school house, RoLayne was grateful when she advanced to high school, graduating in 1950. She eagerly returned to Utah to pursue a college education at Brigham Young University.
Both Forrest and RoLayne had great love for the Savior and were valiant members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While students at BYU, they attended the same student ward. In a testimony meeting, RoLayne’s expressed convictions caught Forrest’s attention, and the two were married eight months later in the Salt Lake Temple on August 21, 1952. From the beginning of their union, they established a theme of service to God, family and their fellow man.
The couple moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico where Forrest secured a job as a US Civil Service Physicist at White Sands Proving Ground. In 1955, Forrest accepted a position with Stanford Research Institute, and the family moved to Menlo Park, California. Two years later, they returned to Las Cruces where Forrest resumed work at White Sands. RoLayne quickly proved to be a resourceful and efficient mother, as six children arrived within the first seven years of marriage.
In 1962, Forrest accepted a position at Thiokol Chemical Corp, and the family purchased a home in Ogden, Utah where they resided the rest of their lives. Three more children joined the Staffanson brood over the next 7 years, and by 1969, the family was complete. Forrest took a position with the Upper Air Research Lab at the University of Utah in 1964, and was later appointed to the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department where he earned his PhD in 1970. During those years, he traveled often due to contract work with NASA and involvement with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Meanwhile, RoLayne exercised her creativity by sewing clothes for the children, reupholstering furniture, reading, and fulfilling church assignments, several in leadership capacities. Her community involvement included Utah Republican Women, PTA, and American Field Service. She was crowned Mrs. Ogden in 1967 and was one of 10 finalists in the Mrs. Utah pageant. In addition, RoLayne directed the family in performing many musical programs together.
As the first children started leaving the nest, the Staffanson household remained full with extra residents, including nephews, nieces, a young Navajo student, and several teenage foster children. RoLayne always opened her home for those needing a hand, including many years caring for her aging parents, as well as Forrest’s sister, Celia. In 1982, RoLayne was elected to the Ogden City School Board, and five years later enrolled in Murdock Travel School, after which she was hired as their director and recruiter. Eleven years later, at age 61, she attended Weber State University and received her Bachelor of Integrated Studies in 1996. While earning her degree, she found her wonderful talent as a poet, and compiled a book of her compositions.
Forrest left the U of U in 1982 to become a Staff Engineer at TRW, and traveled extensively as a member of the board with IEEE, including trips to England, Singapore, Italy, and Brazil. 1995 brought heavy responsibilities for Forrest as he was appointed chairman of “Autotestcon ’98,” an IEEE systems Readiness Technology Conference. It was the grand finale of Forrest’s career, and he retired five months after the event, on January 1, 1999.
Having served in many church capacities over the years, Forrest’s retirement allowed more time to devote in his recent calling as Bishop. The needs of his aging “flock” kept him busy, including conducting nearly 40 funerals during those five years, one being that of his son, Drew in 2002. Forrest’s continued involvement with IEEE and freedom from employment obligations allowed Forrest and RoLayne the opportunity to enjoy domestic and international travel. To satisfy their love of the arts, they held season tickets to the Utah Symphony, The Shakespeare Festival, and several local amateur theaters.
In 2004 Forrest and RoLayne were called to serve in the Maryland, Baltimore Mission for 18-months, where they worked in the mission office and provided leadership support to the inner-city branch. After returning to Utah, their lives of service at home resumed, including delivering food to the needy through the local SHARE program, and volunteering as reading tutors at Gramercy Elementary. They were generous to anyone in need, as well as donating to multiple charities.
Forrest and RoLayne leave behind a large posterity and thousands of beloved friends. We are inspired by their good works that continued to the time of their passing. Their 2020 Christmas letter testifying of Jesus Christ, which was sent to each child and grandchild, as well as the stack of January birthday cards, stamped, labeled, and resting by the front door for mailing on the day they passed away, are evidence of their love for their family. They will be greatly missed. We have no doubt this faithful couple was greeted in Heaven with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servants.”
Forrest and RoLayne are survived by daughters: Leslie (Terry) Carpenter, Deon (Steve) Turley, Mauree (Ron Vanderstappen, deceased) Cassel, Jean (Don) Keaton, Joan (Merril, deceased) Hutchinson, Rachel (Mike) Keeney, and Gayle Staffanson (Brian McFadden); brothers: Bill (Carol, deceased) Staffanson, and John (Lura) Staffanson, 29 grandchildren and 76 great-grandchildren. Forrest and RoLayne are preceded in death by sons, Neil F. (Ranae) Staffanson and Drew C. Staffanson (Shayne Bell). Forrest is preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Celia Staffanson. RoLayne is preceded in death by her parents; and sisters, Jeanette (Wayne, deceased) Thornock, and Sherron (Jack) Morris.
Arrangements entrusted to Myers Ogden Mortuary.