After 90 years on planet earth, Afton Gherdenna Hulet Hale (Denna/Mema/Gram) joined the love of her life, Steve on April 27, 2022. She was born on St. Valentine’s Day, 1932; a fitting birthdate for one whose life would be defined by her enormous heart, capable of loving and serving everyone. She was as selfless as she was hard-working and steady-a category 5 hurricane packaged in a cool summer breeze. Diet Coke and peanut M&Ms fueled her boundless energy.
Denna was a gatherer of souls. Biology had little to do with whom she considered her “family.” Her family included all whose good fortune brought them within her orbit, regardless of their religious or political beliefs, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic background, or socio-economic station. Everyone deserved equal treatment in her hazel-colored soul penetrating eyes. Her chosen profession as a nurse was a natural extension of her love and concern for others. Well ahead of her time, she taught her family how to love and care for Mother Earth by recycling, riding a moped, walking, and by finding joy and wonder in all of earth’s creatures, especially her beloved dogs.
Her role as mother did not end when her children left home. Instead, it expanded as she helped play that role for her grandchildren and great grandchildren, whom she loved, cherished, and embraced with her entire heart and soul. Until the very end, she thoughtfully and carefully strengthened familial bonds by continuing her decades-long tradition of gathering her large family at her home for weekly “Sunday Dinner,” and celebrations of birthdays, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
She embraced death as she did life. Recognizing it was inevitable, she smiled at it, chose the terms on which she would leave, and instead of complaining, she gave her loving and warm smile at all who came to express their love and respect for her. Denna’s surviving immediate family include Sandy and Pat Wilson, Sissy and Dave Hooper, Steve and Kathy Hale, Lisa and Rick McMillan, David Hale and his partner Shanel, Meg Holman, Stephanie and Fred Metos, Craig and Lindsey Hale and Snickerdoodle. Mom, the overwhelming love, and devotion shown to you at the end of your life proves that Sir Paul and John got it right: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” We will miss you, but our thoughts will forever be filled with fond memories of how you taught us to live.
Denna didn’t want anyone to fuss over her in life or in death. She would, however, be grateful if you honored her by extending kindness to someone in need, recycling, walking instead of driving, planting a tree, or simply sharing a smile.
A reception and short service will be held in her honor on May 7, 2022, at the LDS 27th East Ward chapel, where she worshiped for nearly six decades. It is located at 185 “P” Street Salt Lake City, Utah. The reception will be from 12:00 to 1:00 after which the service will begin promptly at 1:00 pm and end before 2:00 pm. Services will be streamed live on Russon Brothers Mortuary Facebook page and this obituary page.
The family expresses our deepest gratitude for the compassionate care provided by Maegan, Kim, Julie, Trulie and Brandi of Aspire Home Health and Hospice-true angels of mercy, and for the love and kindness shown by so many other friends and family members who took time to sing to her, massage her failing body, play music for her, tell stories, and laugh with her during the final days of her life.