Dee was born in Tooele, Utah on December 15, 1933 to Paul and Emma Sterzer Meng. Her father had children from a previous marriage that her mother continued to raise, and so Dee had four sisters; Evelyn, Ruth, Beatrice, Louise and two brothers, John and David. She also had three half- sisters; Lottie, Ann, Alice, and one half-brother, Charles.
She was raised on a farm and her favorite childhood memories were of her pet black lamb that she fed with a bottle and a brown and white tom cat that she used to dress up and push in her buggy. When WWII started her family moved to Ruth, Nevada where her father was employed with Kennecott Copper Corporation. She started school there and loved to learn and did well in school. After the war, the family moved to Garfield, Utah where her fatherhad a shoe repair business.
Dee was bused from Garfield to Cypress High School where she attended through her junior year. That summer she went to New York with her aunt, uncle and cousin. Upon returning home, she found that her family had moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. Dee was unhappy about the move from a small high school to a large city high school, but she made new friends and she ended up graduating from West High School in 1952. After high school Dee worked for Travelers insurance. Dee’s friend at work was dating Sam Holbrook, and lined Dee up on a double date with Sam’s friend. Sam watched Dee all night long and was impressed with how happy and bubbly she was. He started calling her to go out, and she refused because she said that he was her friend’s boyfriend. He finally convinced her and they started dating and he never dated anyone else.
Sam and Dee got engaged on November 12th, 1954, and were married on September 9th, 1955. They honeymooned on their way back to Augusta, Georgia, where Sam was stationed with The US Army, signal corps
.Upon returning to Bountiful, Utah, Sam, became a science teacher at Bountiful Junior High School and she returned to her old job at the insurance company. She worked there until the birth of her first daughter, Dyan in December 1957. Maureen came along in January of 1960, and then Michael in October of 1962. They built a home in Centerville, Utah and lived there until 1965. In November 1969, they moved into their home on Woodland Hills Drive. Dee loved her neighbors, her ward family, her Yellowstone family and her many adopted summer kids that lived and worked in Yellowstone with her family.
In 1965, Sam and Dee bought the Tally-Ho Motel in West Yellowstone, Montana. Dee would run the motel during the summer while Sam would work during the day as Ranger Naturalist at Old Faithful. Nieces and nephews would come up to help with the motel and she ran a “Tight Ship.” She would come around to every room after they were cleaned and would make sure that they were cleaned to her standard--you did it right the first time because you didn’t want to do it again.
After the motel sold, Dee worked several years at the Old Faithful Post Office before taking on a job at the Visitor Center Bookstore. Dee soon became the manager and ran the bookstore from when it opened in early May until it closed the middle of October every year. Her duties consisted of managing schedules, balancing the till--usually right to the penny, ordering books, posters, maps, and collecting the money from the map boxes around Old Faithful. As a result of working all day within view of the famous geyser, she probably watched more eruptions during her lifetime (at least10,000) than any other person. Dee always stopped whatever she was doing to watch it.
Dee absolutely loved Yellowstone and her time there. She enjoyed making and going on picnics with her family. Sam would come home from work and say, “It is a beautiful afternoon/evening, Dee, Let’s go to the lake and have a picnic and go fishing. And just like that she would pack up a meal and the family would go fishing. Dee loved to fish and she was very good at it, and she usually caught the most. When she was on shore she would say to whomever was with her, “Let’s go to West Thumb and get some “Pogey Bait”, meaning candy and other goodies--her favorites were licoricesnaps and caramels.
When the children were grown and away, she and Sam would enjoy taking drives to some of their favorite places to watch the sun set. They would swing into The Lower Hamilton Store, fill their mugs with Diet Coke or get an ice cream and drive down to either Midway Geyser Basin or to Great Fountain Geyser to watch the remarkable, stunning sunsets.
Dee loved ice cream and would eat that anytime, anywhere. Even as her disease progressed she would turn down homemade cakes and other desserts, but she would always say yes to ice cream on a stick. Her children and grandchildren inherited her love for ice cream--” There is always room for ice cream.” Dee loved to sit and chat. She would make friends instantly and cherish each moment. She could start a conversation with anyone and would make anyone who entered the Holbrook home feel instantly like they were part of the family. Perhaps her greatest talent was that of listening. No one could listen and be more interested in a person than Dee.
Dee looked forward to all the holidays--her home reflected the holiday for the month. Christmas was her favorite. She loved Christmas music and would start playing it right after Thanksgiving. The Christmas decorations would take a week to put up--every room was decorated--even the light switches had recycled Christmas cards covering them. On Christmas Eve, there was always a family Christmas program. Dee would recite The Night Before Christmas from memory, and when she would get to the part about Santa giving a wink--those happy, smiling eyes would wink at us, along with a huge smile. Dee also cherished the Nutcracker, and took her children and grandchildren to Ballet West every December. Her traditions became the traditions for her children and grandchildren.
Her cheeseballs were a favorite that were faithfully delivered each Christmas for decades to neighbors and friends. Each holiday was celebrated, no matter how insignificant. In the 70’s, she took a cake decorating class through community education. She learned how to decorate all kinds of cakes and we thought her cakes were amazing. She started getting requests from family and close friends. When Mike was on the Bountiful High School football team, she made a bikini cake for a school auction. The team pooled their money and bought it for $125.00--it was the highest bid of the entire auction.
Her second favorite holiday was Halloween. She so loved to see the children dressed up in their costumes and she loved handing out candy in the days of primary carnivals, she would faithfully dress up as a hobo every year in a pair of Sam’s overalls. She was one of the few adults who would dress up. She would save the leftover candy in a drawer in the hallway as her “secret stash,” but everyone knew where it was and helped themselves.
Dee loved to play games, and she took her game playing seriously--she pretty much always won. She would boast about (as a child) beating all the boys in the neighborhood at Marbles--she still has a can of “won” marbles. She loved to play cards with her children and grandchildren, go Fish when they were younger and Five Crowns when they were older. She loved sports--and was a vocal “armchair” participant--and she prided herself on being able to throw the perfect spiral football.
As a mom she was at every game her children participated in. As a grandmother she and Sam would travel to visit their grandchildren wherever they were--Kaysville, UT, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, Alabama, or Sicily, Italy…she loved to support them in their extracurricular activities--football, volleyball, basketball, track and field, soccer, choir, band, ballet and school plays.
Dee was an incredible mom, and our friends were always welcome to come play at our house. She was the only mom in the trailer court at Old Faithful to take us and our friends to the Firehole River to go swimming. She loved trying new recipes and was always cutting one out of the paper. She made a “killer” meatloaf and “To Die For” baked beans. The beans were served every Easter, along with most picnics and were always a treat.
Dee loved her musicals. When her dementia started taking over, she would turn to her favorites and watch them over and over again: My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Hello Dolly, Paint Your Wagon --they were “comforting old friends.”
Dee was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints her entire life. She willingly and faithfully served in various callings in both her Bountiful ward as well as the Yellowstone Park Branch. Dee was a beautiful example of what a disciple of Christ should be by her selfless service to her family and others. She will be missed.
She is survived by her husband, Sam, and their children and spouses: Dyan (Monty) Stewart, Maureen (Eric) Barkdull, Michael (Maryann) Holbrook and seven grandchildren; Austin Barkdull, Kyle Barkdull, Alex Barkdull, Maggie Stewart, Emily Holbrook, Hayden Holbrook, Sam Holbrook and one great-granddaughter, Brooke Hoskin. She is also survived by her brother, John Meng.
A Graveside Service was held at Lakeview Cemetery, in Bountiful, Utah, May 13, 2020
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