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Obituaries » Jean Sabin Groberg
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August 30, 1934 - October 8, 2021
Funeral Home Russon Mortuary Bountiful
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Jean Sabin Groberg completed the work God sent her here to do and, on October 8, 2021, transitioned from this mortality to carry on the good work on another side of heaven.
Jean was born to Marie Elizabeth Huber and Merrill Rex Sabin in Payson, Utah on August 30, 1934. A 1940 family trip to visit friends in Southern California turned into a long-term family change in residence when Merrill received and accepted an offer to work there for Lockheed Aircraft Company. The family ultimately put down roots in North Hollywood, where Jean “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” In addition to the foundational growth provided in her home, Jean grew through and was ever grateful for her opportunity to participate with a handful of other Los Angeles area teens in the inaugural early morning seminary class of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
After graduating from North Hollywood High School in 1952, Jean began her collegiate studies at Brigham Young University. Though she progressed apace on the academic front, her big sister Marilyn thought Jean needed some encouragement on the social front. When Marilyn’s friend Julia Groberg confided that her freshman brother John was needing similar encouragement, the inspired big sisters orchestrated a blind date. The remarkable partnership that grew from that inauspicious blind date is the stuff of movies. Indeed, Jean and John’s ensuing love and devotion to each other, to God, to their family, to Tonga, and to the Tongan people inspired two full-length movies. And yet those big screen adaptations can only hint at their reality. While the blind date was significant as the catalyst of great things to come, the substance and strength of that culminating greatness grew from their three years of correspondence while Jean was finishing her education and then teaching school in Anaheim, California and John was serving a mission for the Church in Tonga. Through those letters, their friendly desire to keep in touch matured into a loving desire to be together forever.
While winning Jean’s favor from afar, John was forging a close-up and personal bond with the Tongan people. By the time he got back to the US and proposed to Jean in the summer of 1957, Tongans had collectively claimed John as their adopted son, Kolipoki. Thus, when Jean married John in the Los Angeles Temple on September 6, 1957, she secured not only an eternal companion, but she also gained John’s parents, his 10 siblings, and an entire island nation as in-laws. The new family dynamic was a bit of a shift from the relatively quiet home where Jean was the middle of 3 children, but she enthusiastically welcomed and was welcomed by her new extended (and extensive) family.
With the combined strength of their families backing them, Jean and John were able to press forward demonstrating (and occasionally even singing of) their willingness to go where, say what, and be who God asked them to go, say, and be. They quickly found themselves among the few who actually are called to go, say, and be God’s servants “on the mountain height” and “over the stormy sea.” By their 9th anniversary in 1966, Jean and John were the 32-year-old parents of 5 daughters living in Nuku’alofa, Tonga and presiding over hundreds of missionaries serving in the Tongan Mission. By their 19th anniversary in 1976, they were the 42-year-old parents of 10 children living in Honolulu, Hawaii where John presided as the Church’s South Pacific Area Supervisor and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. While still serving there, Jean and John were blessed with one more daughter, completing their family with a total of 11 children (9 daughters and 2 sons). After Hawaii, the family moved to and made Bountiful, Utah their primary headquarters, taking leave from there for three extended away assignments – 3 years stationed in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 4 years stationed in Hong Kong, and 3 years stationed in Idaho Falls, Idaho. From those primary and secondary home bases, Jean and John traveled to and served God’s children throughout the South Pacific, in many US states, in most South American countries, across much of Asia, and in many European and Israeli cities. Though John tended to get more recognition in those places, anyone with a view beyond the pulpit could see that Jean and John accepted and accomplished all God asked of them as co-equal and co-essential partners.
While more can and probably should be said about Jean’s world-wide selfless service and significance, her greatest work, glory, joy, talent, gift, contribution, and sphere of influence was (and continues to be) within the walls of the many places she has called home. She loved and thrived being a mom. In the 38-year span from her first daughter’s birth in Idaho to her youngest daughter’s high school graduation in Hong Kong, Jean learned to navigate traffic-jammed and/or weather-rutted streets getting kids to and from play groups, school, sporting events, practices, lessons, concerts, graduations, and church activities on three different continents and two different Pacific Island chains. She nursed, refereed, read to, congratulated, commiserated, encouraged, counseled, and in every other imaginable way assured her 11 children of her unconditional love for them, for John, and for her Father in Heaven. Her love was such that John, the children, and all around were sure of it even on Sundays when, for decades on end, she was left to monitor reverence on the crowded family pew while John was sitting up on the podium (usually in a different building in a different state or country). That love is what Jean’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will forever remember and be sure to pass on when telling their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren about their amazing GrGrGr. Her children, grandchildren, etc. all do and ever will love her, knowing without doubt she first loved them.
Jean approached and lived life with quiet grace, unassuming dignity, and transcendent class. She was able to see and reach beyond temporal or man-imposed barriers with an impartial love and respect for all of God’s children. Those qualities allowed her equal and welcomed access to the homes and hearts of queens, kings, commoners, outcasts, and the typical and atypical folks of every other stratum and station. With that same grace, dignity, and class, she took her recent leukemia diagnosis and prognosis in stride while offering peace, perspective, and the hope of a joyful hereafter to all who now mourn her passing.
Jean’s love and legacy continues to bless the lives of her husband John, her brother John (Terry) Sabin, her 11 children – Nancy (Steve) Tingey; Liz (Karl) Owens; Marilyn (Matt) Powell; Jane (Troy) Garner; Gayle (Craig) Teuscher; John (Beverly) Groberg; Sue Squire; Tom Groberg; Jennie (Dave) Blaser; Viki (Greg) Bailey; Emily Groberg, 45 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren. Meanwhile, Jean is now enjoying a heavenly reunion with her parents, her sister and best friend Marilyn Sabin Parsons, a grandson, four great-grandchildren, a number of other Sabin relatives and Groberg in-laws, and “forever friends” made around the globe.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, October 16, 2021 at the Bountiful Utah Central Stake building, 640 South 750 East, Bountiful, where friends may visit with the family on Friday evening from 6-8 p.m. and from 9:30-10:30 before the service on Saturday. A traditional Tongan ‘A Po will be held from 6-8 on Thursday, October 14 at 1621 South 11th East in Salt Lake City. Interment at the Bountiful City Cemetery will follow the Saturday funeral service. For those wishing to attend virtually the service will be streamed live at Russon Brothers Mortuary Facebook page and this obituary page.
In lieu of sending flowers for the funeral, you can best honor Jean and her love of flowers and vegetables by planting and sharing with each other from gardens of your own.