Cover photo for Wanda Birch King's Obituary
Wanda Birch King Profile Photo

Wanda Birch King

July 5, 1927 — September 22, 2022

Wanda Birch King

Our amazing Mom, Grandma, and Great-Grandma Wanda Birch King passed away on Thursday September 22, 2022, at the home of her youngest son in South Jordan, Utah at the age of 95. Wanda was born to goodly parents Elizabeth Bevan and Tessar Bruca Birch on July 5, 1927, and along with her beloved brother Norman, grew up in a little white house on the corner of Leland Avenue and 5th East in South Salt Lake.

Wanda graduated from Granite High School in 1945. While she was still in high school, she met her future husband Reed Kent King on a blind date. For the next 4 years, the two of them kept in touch by letters and brief phone calls while Kent served during World War II and fulfilled a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They got engaged the day after Kent returned home from his mission and were married for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple on May 24, 1949.

The young couple initially lived in small apartments in Salt Lake where their first two children, Lynette and David, were born. They then moved to a home on Forbush Avenue in East Midvale where they added three additional children, Joanne, Kathryn, and Steven. This was Wanda’s home for almost 64 years and was an anchor for the family that became the source of warm and happy memories for four generations.

At only 5’2”, Wanda was a veritable dynamo of energy. She worked tirelessly as a homemaker, whipping up huge, multi-dish meals known as “Wandaramas” for her family. She was also widely known for her delicious “Wanda Cookies” that she baked and shared for decades.

Education was very important to Wanda. She was active in her children’s education and encouraged all five of them to earn college degrees. Wanda herself had always wanted to attend college after high school, but her plans got derailed. Later in life at age 55, she completed one semester at the University of Utah before having to withdraw due to other family obligations.

Wanda loved the world around her. It was common practice for her to call her kids and grandkids out onto the front porch to witness something beautiful in nature. She always said it was impossible to imagine a day without being outside because “I need to breathe!” Like her father, Wanda had a green thumb. She loved tending both vegetable and flower gardens (especially roses) and never stopped marveling at the miracle of tucking a tiny seed into the ground and watching it grow.

Wanda had a wide variety of interests and characteristics that combined to make her “one-of-a-kind”.
She was a voracious reader, and loved puzzles, whirly-gigs, lawn ornaments, candy cups, and Peeps. There was, however, probably nothing she loved more than chocolate which she consumed daily. Indeed, she was called G.G. Chocolate by her great-grandchildren and often claimed that chocolate extended her life. She also loved holidays and celebrated them to the max, especially Halloween.

Wanda often said that one of her greatest accomplishments was hiking to the top of Mt Timpanogos, writing her name in the book, and sliding back down the glacier. For the remainder of her life, whenever she saw “Timp”, Wanda said, “There’s my mountain!”

For years, Wanda and Kent walked 3 miles or more a day, greeting neighbors and friends along the way. After a serious fall in 1998, several physicians predicted she would never walk again, but to Wanda those were “fightin’ words.” While focusing on a little quote taped to her bedroom mirror that read, “I Believe in Miracles”, Wanda made it through an excruciatingly painful 3 years of physical therapy and continued to walk for another 24 years.

Wanda was a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served faithfully in whatever calling she received, but if truth be told, her heart was in Primary. Although she was part of several presidencies, it was teaching the 10- to 11-year-old boys back in the day of Trekkers and Blazers and the 7- and 8-year-old children in that special time before and after baptism that brought her the most fulfillment. One of her greatest joys was watching those children grow and celebrating their accomplishments.

Wanda and Kent served three different missions together as representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: a proselyting mission in San Jose, California; a temple mission at the Jordan River Temple; and a stake mission in the East Midvale Stake. In addition, Wanda served an almost life-long mission of providing friendship, empathy, generosity, and a kind listening ear for
countless people whose lives intersected with hers. She had hundreds of best friends.

During her life, Wanda worked in various secretarial and medical-arts positions. She was an exceptionally skilled typist and retained the ability to take accurate shorthand for the remainder of her life. She always referred to it as a “secret writing,” and she was right—none of us could ever make sense of it! Wanda was also very civic-minded, serving as an election poll worker, a census taker, and as a frequent blood donor throughout her life. She also participated in the Midvale and Murray chapters of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, serving for many years in leadership positions. She also volunteered in community programs for Midvale City. In August 2007, both Wanda and Kent were inducted into the Midvale City Hall of Honors.

Wanda’s primary focus in her life was her family. She believed mightily in prayer and was often prompted to call one of her children or grandchildren to make sure they were okay. Her impressions were amazingly accurate, to the point that we in the family referred to the phenomenon as Mom’s “Hotline to Heaven”. No matter what was happening in your life or how far away from her you lived, you knew that she and Heavenly Father had you covered.

Wanda was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Reed Kent King; her parents Elizabeth and Tessar Birch; her brother Norman and sister-in-law Joyce Sainsbury Birch; her parents-in-law Rose and Mazle King; her sister-in-law Renee King Harris; her brother-in-law Lewis King and sister-in-law Dona Mae King; and three great-grandchildren: Dylan Kent Egbert, Daisy Rachel Hall, and Samuel Orion Hall.

She is survived by her five children: Lynette King Allen (Craig), David Kent King (DeAnn), Joanne King (Judith Juhala), Kathryn King Milkanin (Joseph), and Steven Reed King (Maria); 21 grandchildren; and 50 great-grandchildren.

We express our heartfelt appreciation to the IHC Hospice volunteers and staff, especially Wanda’s nurse Amber, who assisted Wanda in her final few months. We are also grateful to the many, many people who provided countless acts of service and kindness to Wanda over the course of her life, especially after the death of her husband.

Funeral services will be held Friday September 30, 2022, at 11:00 am at the Eastlake Stake Center in Daybreak at 4517 W Mille Lacs Dr, South Jordan, UT. For those not able to attend in person, the services can be accessed virtually. Visitation will be held Thursday September 29, 2022, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Goff Mortuary, 8090 So State St, Midvale, UT and again prior to the Funeral Service between 9:30 and 10:30 am. Interment will be at Redwood Memorial Estates located at 6500 Redwood Road, West Jordan, UT.

In lieu of flowers, you are invited to make a donation to Primary Children’s Hospital in memory of Wanda’s three deceased great-grandchildren.

To livestream the funeral, click on this link: Funeral Link


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Thursday, September 29, 2022

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