1926 ~ 2012
Albert Alvin Ayers (1 October 1926 to 17 February 2012) met Jill Kay Woolley in 1955 in the cafeteria over rolls and butter at Grand Canyon National Park, just 22 years after the Park Service was born again in 1933.
Al's dad, Frank Thompson Ayers, was a sailor of the coal-fired Navy and died tragically when Al was nine years old. His mom, Frances Jeanette Walters Ayers, served as executive secretary to legendary Park superintendents at Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, and by herself raised Al and his older sister Marion Cornell, and younger sisters, Eunice Warner and Ferle' Fritsch. Frances, like many of those famous Park leaders who sacrificed so much for so many, lies buried in the Pioneer Cemetery near Park headquarters on the South Rim, a place Al loved to visit and where his first son, Albert Evan (12-16 April 1956), is buried next to Frances. Jill came from a family of engineers and circuit court judges and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a direct descendent of Robert Beheathland who landed at Jamestowne in 1608, and was a debutante. Fresh from the US Navy
in World War II
and Korea in the Pacific Theater and at Inchon where he served on tin cans like the USS Gold Star as an electrician and gunner, Al was 28 and looked like a movie star with a sailor's eagle tattoo and a gold star earring (which he wore sometimes, a Mon-O'-War's man). Jill was 17. Her perfect figure and astonishing beauty made old men cry, and young men wonder, even today. The Woolley's had a heart attack. Jill's grandpa, Sanpete County, Utah, Circuit Judge Erastus Dilworth Woolley, a cigar-chomping Mormon from Manti who loved his grand-daughter, never said a word about it and sent them a small check now and then on special occasions. Nobody remembers what Frances thought. Al thought he married up. The rest of us were glad they met. Very few children in America get to grow up with a special key to the splendor of our National Parks. Al did, and never forgot it or the agency that made it possible. He wore a Park Service uniform for most of his professional life, the Old Guard, the heroes with the beaver felt hats with the silver pine cone hat band. Al passed through the Veil as he often did in the Temples of the Most High God, where he and Jill served as Temple workers in the Jordan River Temple. He isn't gone at all, really. He lingers in his wife and five living children, 22 grand-children, and 10 great-grand-children. They have his steel-blue eyes, his thick curly hair, his strong jaw, his humor, his love of words. He could beat anyone at Scrabble and mostly he didn't cheat, and if he did you couldn't figure out how. Al could read a book in a few hours, a habit that drove his pretentious heirs to distraction. He preferred who-done-its and thrillers. He could have used his unearthly powers for good to read and memorize all the Great Books or invent fractal geometry and been a wealthy old professor somewhere. Instead he married Jill in a simple ceremony at the Grand Canyon on 22 October 1955, then took his new bride and toured back and forth as a seasonal ranger between the Everglades and the Grand Canyon. They lived in a tiny trailer and sacrificed everything to have a big family of kids who didn't wear shoes and ate spam roast on Sunday and collected pop bottles for money for treats. They lived in places like Hawaii Volcanoes and Lake Meredith (where the Dustbowl still inspired fear), and Brandelier National Monument, the place of dreams and The Drips. They tried to have a baby in every park. Al and Jill used to stand in the crowded Thanksgiving Hall where we gathered as a family to celebrate and laugh. They would grow wide-eyed and exclaim, "Look what we did!" Al could say hello in ten languages and sound like a native speaker. He could be totally inappropriate, sweet and loving, and grew in the Spirit with every passing day. Albert Alvin Ayers; dearly beloved and dearly missed.
Survived by: wife Jill, children: Alan Ayers, Audrey Carroll (Frank), Andrew Ayers (Nancy), Allyson Phelps (Delbert), Joel Ayers (Carin), 22 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and also Susan Ayers and Nona Spencer. Preceded in death by infant son Albert and infant grandson Connor.
Thanks to Utah Hospice Specialists, with special thanks to Cori, Victor, Dan, Alice, and Cassie.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday at 11 am at the Country Crossing 7th Ward, 11173 S. Copper Point Way where friends may call an hour prior. Interment in the Utah Veterans Memorial Park. www.broomheadfuneralhome.com