Cover photo for Edythe Anne Isaacson Wagstaff's Obituary
Edythe Anne Isaacson Wagstaff Profile Photo
1965 Edye 2023

Edythe Anne Isaacson Wagstaff

September 2, 1965 — March 29, 2023

Kaysville

 

Edythe Anne “Edye” Isaacson Wagstaff, 57, of Kaysville, UT, passed peacefully through the veil March 29, 2023 at Ogden Regional Medical Center.  She was with family and dear friends.

Edye was born September 2, 1965, in La Grande, OR, the last child of Neal Reuben Isaacson and Jehzell Anne Hendrickson.  She joined three older brothers and two older sisters at home.  She attended schools in La Grande, graduating from La Grande High School in 1983.  She was very active in music throughout her life, and during her high school years she was featured innumerable times in concerts with various groups, as well as singing at many community and religious events.  As a junior in high school, she was the Oregon representative in a national youth choir that toured portions of Europe.  It was during this trip that Edye developed a love of western Europe.  There are many stories of how, during this trip, Edye’s voice and presentation transcended language barriers and touched the hearts of audience members.  Edye also participated in the All Northwest Choir and won many awards in vocal competitions.

After graduating from High School, Edye attended Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho), continuing her study of vocal performance, and was again featured as a soloist with several groups there, including their Chamber Singers.  Following her time at Ricks, Edye worked for a year as a nanny in New York; she still maintains contact with the family she worked for as well as many friends that she made.

Edye then served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Japan Tokyo South Mission.  During her mission she experienced complications from a surgical procedure and was sent home for a time to recover and then completed her mission in Southern California.

Edye’s next stop was at Utah State University where she continued her voice studies on a full-ride scholarship.  She participated in the USU Chorale, USU Chamber Singers, and Utah State Opera Theater.  She was featured as a soloist on several occasions and appeared in several musical theater performances under the direction of Michael Ballam, including a performance of “Shy” that resulted in curtain calls and the comment from Michaal that “there was not a dry seat in the house.”

Edye met W. Reed Wagstaff at the Lyric Theater in Logan, Utah in 1991.  She was fascinated by his abilities to improvise and play by ear as several of her friends were putting together a production of “Side by Side by Sondheim”, a touring show on behalf of the USU Alumni Association.  A friendship, and then something deeper ensued. 

Later that year, Edye embarked upon a year of intense vocal study with New York City Opera diva Maria Alzatti, who had spotted Edye’s talent during a guest performance at USU.  She told Reed before she left that if he wanted to marry her, he needed to be active in the church and temple-worthy before she returned.  She asked the Logan 20th Ward to embrace Reed and help him, and when she returned, he was ready, and they were sealed for time and eternity in the Logan Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on September 19, 1992.  Edye often said that she married Reed because she had a built in accompanist, to which Reed replied he married Edye so he always had someone to accompany.

Edye became very active in the Utah State Theatre and Old Lyric Repertory Theatre, both as a performer and as a music director.  She also worked with the Unicorn Children’s Theater and had both a private studio and as an adjunct instructor for USU.  Many of her students have remarked that it was Edye’s faith in them, when they didn’t have it for themselves, that led to them becoming outstanding vocalists and performers.  Edye taught with love and conviction, and no student was beyond help as long as they would work.

Edye turned in many memorable performances on the stages of Cache Valley.  She was an over-the-top Japanese Katisha in The Mikado and two engagements as the blind bar owner and pianist Freddie in Song of Singapore among others.  Probably her single biggest show-stopping role was as the well-meaning Mother Superior in Nunsense.  Decades later people still talk about her scene where she is given a mysterious inhalant from one of the student lockers, and takes the audience on a gut-busting scene where she was high.  People have admitted to being on their knees or actually falling into the aisle because they were laughing so hard.  Her timing and her honesty as a performer were perfect.

In 1994, Edye had the horrible shock of losing both of her parents, at less than 30 years old, in the span of a little over 4 months.  Reed and Edye had also struggled with fertility and other issues, and found out that they would not be able to have their own biological children, and began exploring adoption.  A dear friend who was appearing with Edye in The West:  America’s Odyssey, was helping her son and his wife through the same process, and provided Edye with so many contacts and help.  Early in August of 1994, Reed and Edye were contacted by an attorney who said there was a baby boy available in early October.  They were at a loss as to how they were going to pay for the costs of adoption as well as getting ready for a baby in such a short span of time.  Less than a week afterward, the settlement from Edye’s parents’ estate arrived, and they were able to cover the cost of the adoption.  As with all babies, the little boy came on his schedule, and Vosco Neal Wagstaff was born to them six weeks later.

Edye also was a profound an powerful performer of religious music.  Her testimony of the Savior and the Plan of Salvation was permeated these performances and pierced the hearts of those that listened.  She loved working with church choirs, particularly the youth, where she would not just teach the notes and words, but also teach the truth of the message they were conveying.  More than once at a stake conference in the historical Logan Tabernacle, the sound of the choir would overwhelm those observing and move them to tears.  There is a story of a group of visiting Russian scientists who were walking past the tabernacle on a spring morning and heard the beautiful music.  They came inside, and though they did not understand the spoken or sung word, they were touched by the spirit of the music and stayed for the entire meeting, even lingering afterward.

In 1999, sensing that their family was not complete, Reed and Edye began the quest to adopt another child.  After several failed adoptions they received a phone call early on the morning of June 20, 2000.  A young lady on the other end of the phone said that she had given birth the “their” baby and asked what they were naming her.  Edye answered “Ruby Christine” (not the name they had discussed); the birth mother responded, “That’s my mothers name; it’s meant to be.  Come get your little girl.”

In that same year, Edye received a phone call from a cousin, saying that a woman had reached out to her, saying that Edye’s mother was her birth mother.  Before her death, Anne had told Edye that she had had a child before she married Neal.  She knew nothing about the baby or the adoptive family, other than that the adoptive mother had red hair.  Edye agreed to talk to the woman, and was reunited with her half-sister, Linda Bingham, who lived less than an hour away.  When they were able to meet, they discovered many things in common, including the distinctive Hendrickson chin and the laughter pattern, which was three “Hahs”   on descending pitches, accompanied by a slap on the knee.  Edye remained close to Linda especially after Edye and Reed moved to the same town, Kaysville.

After Reed’s brush with the horrible events of 9/11 and the resulting terror of his travel brought into the family, Reed eventually set about to find another job to finish out his career, and in 2005 was hired by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This necessitated a move to the Salt Lake City area, which also opened the opportunity for Edye to audition for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, now known as the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.  She successfully made it through the rigorous and lengthy audition process, and began her training in the Temple Square Chorale in 2007.  Through a series of unexpected events, Edye was part of the choir that sang at the rededication of the Historic Salt Lake Tabernacle even though she was not yet a full member of the choir.  This was followed by two opportunities to be a soloist on the legendary weekly radio and television broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word.  As had always been the case, Edye’s ability to bear witness of truth and faith through music was put to good use.  Many choir members have remarked that they loved standing by her not just because of her musicianship but because the exuded love.

Lest you be misled, Edye was anything but “the stuffy Mormon” type.  Her laugh was always ready to burst forth and contagiously cause others to laugh.  Her sometimes irreverent humor may have offended some at times, and Mack Wilburg and Ryan Murphy, directors of the Tabernacle Choir, probably wondered what they had wrought by bringing her into the choir, but it made her even more beloved.  There was one occasion when they were setting camera marks for a recording, and the handful of soloists, who were just in the choir, were asked to stand so the camera crew could identify them.  Edye, ever the comic (and self-deprecating) nut that she is, started pulling some faces.  It is reported that Mack Wilburg was laughing so hard that he nearly fell out of his chair when her image popped up on the gigantic screens.

Edye engaged in a variety of occupations after the move.  She was a music specialist at several elementary schools in the Davis School District, and received her certification in Orff Kindermusik.  She also continued her private studio, and as always, coached many students to success.  She later worked as a customer service representative in the auto industry, ending that part of her career at Ed Kenley Ford in Layton.  Edye loved the Kenley family, and was always so grateful for the support and love they provided.  Edye could handle the most difficult and challenging customer service issues, and had the ability to talk to anyone from a rough construction worker to the most esteemed executive.  So many felt that they had an instant friend whose sole desire was to help them with their needs.

In 2019, Edye began an online ecommerce business out of her home, Boulton and Grande, and was building the business in her diminishing spare time.  In late 2022, Edye left her fulltime position at Ed Kenley to devote her time to Boulton and Grande, and to prepare for a move of the family to the Baker Valley in Eastern Oregon.

Edye began to notice some health issues in late December of 2022.  She was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation in early March, and passed peacefully on March 29, 2023 due to complications from that illness.  We are certain that there was a joyous, and probably loud, reunion with her family, friends, and others whose life she had touched during her mortal life.

Edye was preceded in death by her parents, Neal and Anne Isaacson, a sister-in law, Deanna Isaacson, brother in-law Irv Huntsinger, and her grandparents as well as her in-laws, Lyle Wilson and Margaret Beth Wagstaff.  She is survived by her husband Reed of Kaysville, UT, son Vosco Neal (Leslie) of Orem, Utah; daughter Ruby Christine of Kaysville, UT; siblings Penelope Lynne (Irv, deceased) Huntsinger, Buckeye, AZ; Richard Neal (Christine) Isaacson, La Grande, OR; Sigurd Vernon Isaacson, Union Oregon; Kerrin Jehzell (David) Hasler, Vale, OR; Thomas Lee (Glenda), Haines, OR; a half-sister, Linda (Jeran) Bingham, Kaysville, her nieces, nephews and great and great-great nieces and nephews, as well as Reed’s brothers and their families.

A celebration of Edye’s life will be held Saturday, April 8, 2023, at 11 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint Kaysville Crestwood Stake Center, 855 East Mutton Hollow Road, Kaysville, UT 84037.  Visitation will be from 9:30 to 10:30 preceding the services at the same location.

The ward will be streaming the services for those unable to attend using the following link https://zoom.us/j/97426566581 

The family expresses its heartfelt love and gratitude to the Kaysville EMS team, IHC Layton Hospital staff, Davis Medical Center staff, Ogden Regional Medical Center staff, and PA. Dontai Warner for their tender caring for our Edye during the final days of her life, as well as the staff at Russon Mortuary, members of the Kaysville Utah 3rd Ward, and the innumerable others who have provided service and love during this difficult time.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Edythe Anne Isaacson Wagstaff, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Visitation

Saturday, April 8, 2023

9:30 - 10:30 am (Mountain time)

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Celebration of Life

Saturday, April 8, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)

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