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Front Page » December 8, 2005 » Carbon Senior Scene » A Lady for 100 Years
Published 3,587 days ago

A Lady for 100 Years

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Sun Advocate reporter

Lucille Wimmer portrait taken in 1978.

Lucille Wilcox Wimmer, teacher, mother, homesteader, rancher, and longtime resident of Nine Mile Canyon, celebrated her 100th birthday on December 5. What a remarkable journey it has been. Born in the town of Garland, Box Elder County, in 1905, Lucille was the eighth child born to Oliver and Evaline Clark Wilcox. She married Harold (Jack) Wimmer in February 1927.

Lucille's parents were both descendants of early Mormon pioneers, and her father left the family to serve a church mission to Australia when she was only six months old. Her mother worked as postmistress of Garland to help support the family while he was away for two years. She had four children under that age of six at the time. Luckily, the post office was in her home where she could combine her official and domestic duties.

Lucille Wilcox Wimmer at age 19.

Lucille grew up on a farm near Garland. In her autobiography, she says that her mother, a devout Mormon, believed that children should be baptized on their eighth birthday. And so, on the fifth day of December, 1913, her father cut a hole in the ice of the irrigation canal and Lucille was dutifully baptized by immersion in the frigid water. "I thought I would freeze to death," she says, "But I didn't even catch cold from the experience."

In 1918 the family moved to Delta. They lived there for two years and then her father bought a farm in the town of Sandy, in the Salt Lake Valley. Lucille was 14 when the family moved to Sandy, and she enrolled at Jordan High School. She was an excellent student and graduated as valedictorian of the class of 1924. Jordan High was a big school for the time. There were 115 students in her graduating class.

In the fall of 1924, Lucille enrolled at the University of Utah. She took what she describes as a "concentrated course in preparation for teaching." She lived with her grandmother, Lucy Clark, in the Salt Lake avenues and often walked to school at the university. By the fall of 1925, at the age of 19, she was certified as a school teacher and ready to start her first job.

The young schoolmarm, Miss Wilcox, found her first teaching job in the Uintah Basin at a one-room schoolhouse in a place called Juanita. Juanita was about seven miles east of Duchesne, and the name was later changed to Bridgeland. Her starting salary was $85 per month, not a bad wage for the times. Miss Wilcox taught 16 children in the school whose ages spanned seven grades. Her oldest student was a boy age 14. She was 19. She boarded with a widow lady who had small children.

Wimmer family in front of the old rock house in Nine Mile Canyon during the Easter holiday in 1951. Back row, left to right: Kent, Adele and George Marett, Jean, Harold (Jack Sr.) holding Sally, Edythe, Jack. Front row, left to right: Lee, Lucille, Billy, Arlene, Elaine, J.D.

Lucille met Harold (Jack) Wimmer in the fall of 1925, shortly after she moved to Juanita. Harold was 22 at the time, and his sister Phyllis was 12 years old and one of Miss Wilcox's students. Being a good son and a good brother, Harold began attending PTA meetings with his parents. He also saw the new schoolteacher frequently at Sunday school. They were married in Price, in February 1927. Shortly after their marriage, Harold went to work in the coal mine near Standardville while Lucille went back to the Uintah Basin to finish teaching for the rest of the school year.

In the summer of 1927, Harold and Lucille Wimmer moved to a rented farm near Duchesne and began a life together. Over the next 50 years, they would own a farm and a ranch in Nine Mile Canyon, a sawmill, a mining products venture, and a construction company. They would eventually have 13 children together: Edythe, Kent, Keith, Jean, Jack, Robert, John David (JD), Arlene, Elaine, Lee, William (Billy), Sally, and Max.

In 1933, eager for a place of their own, Harold and his brother Neville Wimmer, both filed for homesteads in Argyle Canyon, a tributary of Nine Mile. The brothers went into the cattle ranching business together. In conjunction with the homestead in Argyle, Harold bought the Harmon ranch and farm in Nine Mile canyon in 1939. The family lived there in "the old rock house" until 1952. Then they moved to a more modern frame home just a short distance away.

For many years, the Wimmer family lived in Nine Mile in the summer and then moved back to Duchesne in the winter so the children could attend school. But in 1949 the Duchesne county school board authorized a school in Nine Mile canyon. Lucille Wimmer, being a certified, university-trained teacher, was asked by the superintendent of schools to be the teacher. She was very busy with the ranch and a large family, but agreed to teach for only a few months to help get the school started. In spite of her plans to teach for only a short time, her term as teacher would last for two and a half years.

It was an exciting time for the Wimmer family. For the first time in 16 years the younger children could stay in the canyon through the winter. School had finally come to them.

The 1949-1950 school year saw about 15 students in the Nine Mile School. The old schoolhouse is located at the mouth of Argyle Canyon and was a one-room frame building originally built as a barracks to house civilian conservation corps workers during the 1930s. The building is still there. School enrollment grew to 22 students by 1952, and then dropped to 11 for 1953. Lucille Wimmer quit teaching early in 1953 and returned home to have her thirteenth baby and take care of her large family. She turned the job of teaching over to a very young, Norma Rich Dalton. The Nine Mile School was closed forever after the 1953 school year.

Lucille Wimmer has known her share of hardship and pain over the years. Two of her baby sons drowned in irrigation ditches, Thomas Keith in 1933 and Robert Wayne in 1938. Both children were 18 months old at the time of their deaths. In 1944 the family sawmill in Argyle Canyon was destroyed by fire, a devastating financial loss, and in 1946 the family home near Duchesne burned to the ground taking most of their worldly possessions.

In 1951, her son Kent was badly wounded and lost the sight in both eyes while serving with the U.S. Army in Korea. And then, in 1972, son Jack lost the use of both legs in a construction accident. Through it all, this remarkable lady has been a pillar of strength to the rest of the family. "Like [all] of the tragedies in our lives, we had to learn to live with it," She says in her autobiography.

Nine Mile School 1949. Back row L to R: Della Gonzales, Bobby and Bettie Clark, Arlene Wimmer, Raymond Gonzales, Don Rich, J.D. Wimmer, Bus Rich. Front Row L to R: Chub Clark , Leon Rich, Elaine Wimmer, Kirt Rich, Cecelia Gonzales.

In November 1977, Harold (Jack) Wimmer died after a short illness. He was 74 years old. Lucille continued to live at the ranch house in Argyle for the next few years, mostly in the summertime, and with her daughter Sally in Midvale in the winter. In 1989 she sold the ranch in Argyle and bought a home in Midvale.

Never one to sit still, she has traveled extensively since leaving Nine Mile. She has been to China, England, Scotland, and France, an ambitious undertaking for a lady only two years younger than airplanes. She has made beautiful quilts since retiring from ranching, and presented dozens of them to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She served as a Cub Scout den mother into her 80s. While living in Midvale, she was active in church and attended the Jordan River LDS Temple almost every week. In the last few years she has moved to Richfield to live near her daughter, Sally Henry. She lives in her own home and still does all of her own cooking and cleaning.

Family members say that the secret to her long life is her good attitude and the fact that she has always been active, outgoing, and she walks every day. "Sometimes she just walks around the block," her son Jack says, "But she walks every day."

"She is always happy and makes you feel at home when you visit with her," wrote daughter, Arlene.

An open house was held Saturday in Richfield to celebrate her 100th birthday.

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