Provo, Utah—Eleanor Ricks Colton, 90, after a long and loving life, returned to her Heavenly Father and elder Brother Jesus Christ on September 19, 2021, due to causes related to Alzheimer's Disease and age. Ellie loved her family and friends and was greatly loved by them. Her zest for life made life more fun for those around her. She loved the beauty of the earth and walked in the woods behind her Bethesda, Maryland home every day she could. Flowers were a special love of hers. She grew, arranged, pressed and gifted hundreds of beautiful floral arrangements. A talented cook and entertainer, her home was regularly full of new and old friends, family and laughter. She loved the writings of Shakespeare and regularly burst out in a Shakespeare sonnet when inspired by beauty, family, and at times, frustration. Her life was full of intellectual curiosity and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, joy and hope.
Ellie was born August 21, 1931 in Hibbard, Idaho to Thomas Emerson Ricks and Annie Hutchings Ricks on her parents' dry wheat farm. She was surrounded with love and a big family. By the time she was 10 she saw the death of her father, a beloved grandfather and her sister Marie. Her 28 year old sister Vie died when Ellie was 19. With the loss of her father, the family needed to move to Idaho Falls, Idaho where her mother supported the family as a seamstress. Ellie described herself as being free-range after school. She manifested an ability to make wonderful supportive friends who influenced her for good. Her Idaho Falls friends were friends for life. She spoke high praise for this loving community. She worked picking potatoes and in her sister-in-law's parents' bakery to earn money. She went to Idaho Falls High School, holding many leadership positions in various clubs. Ellie loved being in the middle of things. Her sense of humor was infectious. Ellie attributes three high school teachers with motivating her to be a leader, love learning and be the best she could be.
Ellie was the first in her family to graduate from college. She went to the University of Utah, graduating in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. At the University of Utah she gathered another group of life long friends. She pledged the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, leading them as President her senior year. Upon graduation she taught elementary school in Salt Lake City.
On the first day she arrived at Carlson Hall, her freshman dorm, she met two people who changed her life forever. Nancy Colton and her big brother Sterling Don Colton. Nancy and Ellie became close friends and Nancy urged Ellie to focus on her brother, including recruiting friends to drive them to Stanford to visit Sterling while he was in law school. Five years later, on August 6, 1954, Ellie and Sterling married in the Idaho Falls temple and their sixty five year marriage was filled with love, laughter and adventure.
Sterling's three years in the US army took them to Fort Sill, Oklahoma and to Stuttgart, Germany, where he was a JAG officer. While in Germany her two oldest children, Sterling David and Carolyn, were born. She loved their adventures in Europe, where they used every opportunity to explore many European countries.
After Sterling left active duty in the military they returned to Salt Lake City, Utah where they lived until 1966. Ellie once again was a vital part of a wonderful community. She and Sterling were in various study groups and she organized the children on Princeton Avenue with yard games and parades to celebrate a variety of occasions. While in Salt Lake thier last two children, Bradley Hugh and Steven Ricks, joined the family. She learned how to ski and every Tuesday went with a friend to shooshboom the slopes of Alta. During this period, she lost most of her hearing due to a genetic condition that became worse with each pregnancy.
The summer of 1966 the family moved to Bethesda, Maryland when Sterling took a position with Marriott Corporation. Although she missed her friends and family in the west, Ellie followed her own advice and bloomed where she was planted. Tennis took the place of skiing and she had great fun playing with a group of Maryland friends. A close group of new friends helped her explore the beauty of the east coast and generously shared their time and interests. After her youngest graduated from high school, she taught first grade for several years at Christ Episcopal Day School. She lived in Bethesda for 53 years. Together with Sterling, Ellie travelled to every continent enthusiastically marvelling at the wonders of the planet.
Constant throughout her life was her faith in her Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ. This faith was shown in her treatment of others and her service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She served as president and other leadership roles in congregational and regional child, youth and women's organizations of the Church. She served with her husband as Mission Leaders in the Canada Vancouver Mission from 1995-1998 and as the Matron of the Washington D.C. Temple from 2000-2003.
While her health declined as a result of Alzheimer's disease, she remained a great example of joy and positiveness, constantly teaching all those impacted by her life. She has lived for the past two years in Jamestown Assisted Living in Provo, Utah. Her family is grateful to the many caregivers who lovingly took care of her during the past five years both in Maryland and Utah and the amazing work of Hospice who assisted with Mom over her last few weeks.
She is survived by her daughter Carolyn Colton of Bethesda Maryland; her three sons and their wives, Sterling David and Julie Haycock Colton of Orem, Utah; Bradley Hugh and Melanie Farrell Colton of Midway, Utah; and Steven Ricks and Jeri Cash Colton of Johns Creek, Georgia (currently serving as Mission Leaders in Olongapo, Philippines); her sister-in-law Colleen Colton of Bountiful, Utah; her brother-in-law Robert Bradley, Sr. and wife Patricia of Uzes, France; and her brother and sister-in-law John Phillip and Barbara Snyder Colton of Sandy, Utah. She has 17 grandchildren and 46 great-grandchildren, plus two on the way, and many nieces and nephews whom she loved. She was pre-deceased by her loving husband, Sterling Don Colton, parents Annie Hutchings Ricks Jaques and Thomas Emerson Ricks, sisters and their husbands Doretha (Don) Lindholm, Vie (Howard)Andrews, Marie Ricks, Sarah Ricks and brother, Emerson Lloyd (Jean) Ricks and Sterling's parents Hugh W. Colton & Marguerite Maughan Colton, and his sister Nancy Colton Bradley and brother H. Maughan Colton whom she loved dearly.
Family and friends are invited to attend a memorial service on October 2, 2021 at 12:30pm, Sharon 5th Ward Chapel, 545 South 800 East, Orem, Utah, 84097. Family and friends may also visit on Thursday evening, September 30, 2021, 6:30-8:00pm at the Walker Sanderson Funeral Home, 646 East 800 North, Orem, Utah 84097. Interment will be at the Maeser Fairview Cemetery, in Vernal, Utah on October 1, 2021.
Published by The Salt Lake Tribune from Sep. 23 to Sep. 28, 2021.
Sponsored by Walker Sanderson Funeral Home - Orem.
I want to thank Bishop and Sister Colton for their outstanding service in the Washington, DC Singles Ward and as President and Matron of the Washington Temple. With love and sympathy to Carolyn and family.
Carmen Gonzalez from the Chevy Chase Ward
October 2, 2021
To the family,
I would like to extend my condolences to you. Losing a loved one in death breaks our heart. Please know that you can find comfort and strength in God. Isa. 41:10 says he will hold on to you with his right hand of righteousness. Cherish the loving memories.