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On December 21, 2023, LaRue McElprang Jensen, age 81, of Ioka, Utah, slipped peacefully from this life surrounded by family at her daughter’s home in Providence, Utah.
She was born on January 20, 1942 in Huntington, Utah, the fifth and youngest daughter of William Milton McElprang and Jennie Loertscher McElprang.
On July 28, 1961, LaRue married her high school sweetheart, Keith Devon Jensen, in the Manti, Utah Temple. In 1966, they moved from Salt Lake City to the Uintah Basin in northeastern Utah, where they lived in Hancock Cove, Roosevelt, and Ioka. Over their nearly 60 years of marriage, LaRue and Keith worked hard, side-by-side, to provide a loving home for their 8 children. They also welcomed into their home 4 foster children from the Navajo Nation, whom they loved and cared for as their own, proudly embracing their Indigenous heritage. They also treasured their 35 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. The greatest joy and blessing in LaRue’s life was her family, whom she loves unconditionally.
Growing up, LaRue learned to work hard from her dad on her family’s farm and she became skilled in culinary and household duties from her mom. She became an accomplished seamstress sewing everything from children’s clothing to intricate wedding dresses. LaRue was also a skilled cake decorator and made many birthday and wedding cakes for family, friends, and neighbors. In her early married years, while living on Hampton Avenue in Salt Lake City, she also helped supplement the family income by ironing clothes for others. LaRue became well known for making some of the best homemade bread around and readily sharing it with neighbors and those in need.
Throughout her life, LaRue was always ready to humbly roll up her sleeves, learn new skills, and work tirelessly to help provide for her family. One of the highlights of LaRue’s life was the 27-plus years she spent working in healthcare. In the mid-1980s, she began working for Duchesne County Hospital Home Health as a Certified Nursing Assistant. This was a natural starting point for her because she was already apt to visit the sick, help with meals, and to extend a healing hand to those in need. LaRue's caring heart, work ethic, and her willingness to say “yes” to new and challenging assignments led to expanded leadership roles as Housekeeping and Laundry Supervisor to becoming the Manager of Support Services over Dietary, Environmental Services, and Laundry at Uintah Basin Medical Center (UBMC). To this day, LaRue’s dietary department and hospital cafeteria remain a nostalgic memory for many hospital employees and the community members who would come to the hospital just to eat at her cafeteria. She did hospital food service right!
LaRue’s firm belief in and love for her Heavenly Father and the gospel of Jesus Christ formed the foundation of who she was and the way she lived her life. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served faithfully in many formal church callings throughout her life. However, her actions were never dependent on formalities. On countless occasions and in numberless ways, her faith in Jesus Christ and love for others led her to seek out the sick, the sad, the poor, or the lonely and quietly run to their aid with a meal, a phone call, or a kind and encouraging word. LaRue often gave of herself, her time, and her resources when she often had very little of her own to give. Yet, she found a way to offer what she had to lift and cheer her fellow travelers in life.
LaRue loved and embraced people from all walks of life regardless of race, color, creed, orientation, health, or socioeconomic status. She was kind and compassionate, yet bold and courageous in doing the right thing, loving, accepting, and in going the extra mile for those she cared for in her family, her community, and at work. She knew that everyone has their own set of unique struggles and viewpoints in life and would say, “We would do well to be a little more understanding of one another.”
LaRue had a great sense of humor and penchant for jokes. She always discovered some way to find wisdom and humor in life’s hard lessons. She would often say, “I’d rather laugh than cry. Crying just gives me a stuffy nose and a headache.” Yet, she had a tender heart and knew what it meant to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. LaRue’s family rejoices that she is once again with her sweetheart, Keith, whom she cared for and lost to Alzheimer’s disease in March 2020; and her eldest son, Todd, who passed in July 2022. For them, Christmas came early this year, and we are grateful for their reunion. In time, we will find our laughter again, but for now our noses are stuffy and our heads and hearts ache with her absence. We love and will miss you dearly, Mom, until we meet again. Thank you for your legacy of goodness.
LaRue is survived by her children; Tyler (Lorri) Jensen, Mapleton, Utah; Ruth Ann (Alan) Walker, Eugene, Oregon; Melissa (Lance) Houser, Providence, Utah; Rebecca Jensen, Kamas, Utah; Maria (AJ) Ferguson, Pleasant Grove, Utah; David (Heather) Jensen, Farmington, Utah; Leonardo Jensen, Brooklyn, New York; daughter-in-law, Drinda Jensen (Todd), Ioka, Utah; 33 grandchildren; 18 great grandchildren; foster child, Ruby Thomas Dixon; sisters, Jenece Howard, Maudie Breen, Helen Fox; and many friends she made while working at UBMC.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Keith; son, Todd; granddaughter, Jenessa Jensen (Tyler and Lorri Jensen); grandson, Nick Taylor (Ruth Ann Walker and Mike Taylor); foster children, Gilbert James, John Thomas, Dorothy ‘Dottie’ Smith-Bain; parents, Jennie and Milton McElprang; and sister, Grace Paulsen.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday December 30, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at the Roosevelt Stake Center (447 E. Lagoon St. Roosevelt, Utah 84066). Viewings will be held at the church on Friday evening from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10-10:45 a.m.
Burial will be in the Roosevelt Memorial Park next to her sweetheart, Keith and son, Todd.