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Lana Gayle DeGraffenried

May 31, 1943 February 12, 2018
Lana Gayle DeGraffenried
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Obituary for Lana Gayle DeGraffenried

Lana Gayle DeGraffenried (74) quietly passed away due to a prolonged illness Monday morning, February 12, 2018, at her home in Homer, Alaska, comforted by her husband and daughter, Wendy.

Gayle was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Horace Roop Wortham and Gladys Mae Maddox Wortham on May 31, 1943. She was the first of six children. She was raised in Atlanta and graduated from Bass High School. She was a runner up in a beauty pageant when she was a late teen. She was raised Southern Baptist and enjoyed singing at church. When she was 19, she joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Gayle married James Alan DeGraffenried in Holiday, Utah, on August 9, 1963. They were later sealed for time and eternity in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple on January 20, 1964. They are the parents of five sons (Dana, Mark, Matthew, Jared, Peter) and four daughters (Cherry Gayle, Wendy, Heather, Rachael). In their early marriage, they lived in many states, finally settling in Highland, Utah, where they lived for 9 years. Homer, Alaska, has been their home for the last 36 years.

Gayle was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and loved her Savior, Jesus Christ. She enjoyed singing in the ward choir, serving members of the congregation, and teaching children in Sunday School and Primary. In order to raise money for new genealogy equipment, she aided in compiling, printing, and selling a Homer Alaska cookbook, which includes her “famous” buttermilk croissant roll recipe.

Gayle enjoyed ceramics, singing, sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting, and making gifts for family. She was a great cook and loved to make bread. With her love of crocheting, she made an intricate table dressing for the Alaska Anchorage LDS Temple. Sewing beautiful clothing and dresses for herself and her daughters, as well as many shirts and pants for her boys, was a pastime she loved. She often made pajama sets for her children for Christmas.

In the late 1980’s, after taking a carving class at a local community college, Gayle founded Thunderbird Totem Company, which produced miniaturized totem poles. These totem poles were sold for a number of years by various souvenir outlets located in Alaska and as far south as Seattle, Washington. She was also the artist and author of an Alaska Coloring Book and enjoyed participating in holiday bazaars, selling homemade jewelry, ceramics, healing salve, and homemade Alaskan art.

Gayle was an avid genealogist all of her life, accumulating an immense quantity of family histories. She assisted several individuals in compiling, editing, and publishing their families histories. On several occasions, she returned to the southern states (including Alabama and Georgia) for genealogy trips, identifying and visiting every relative she was able to find, old or young. With her mother, she took pictures and voice recordings of their family histories. Her efforts were appreciated by many of her relatives.

Gayle was preceded in death by her parents, Horace R. and Gladys M. Wortham, Titusville, FL; brother, Horace E. “Sam” Wortham; daughter, Cherry Gayle DeGraffenried who passed away on October 25, 1971 at 10 weeks old; and granddaughter, Georgia L. DeGraffenried (Jared). She is survived by her husband, J. Alan DeGraffenried, Homer, AK whom she had been married to for 6 months short of 55 years. Siblings: James R. and Patricia Wortham, Ocoee, FL; W. David Wortham, Valrico, FL; Debra S. and James Van Keuren, Titusville FL; J. Charles and Cynthia Wortham, Port St. John, FL. Children: Dana A. and Sarah DeGraffenried, Anchorage, AK; J. Mark DeGraffenried, Alpine, UT; Matthew J. and Jill DeGraffenried, Provo, UT; Wendy M. DeGraffenried and Jonna Naylor, Wasilla, AK; Jared P. and Melinda DeGraffenried, Bluffdale, UT; Heather M. and Gregory Jensen, Saratoga Springs, UT; Rachael H. and Joseph Sanger, American Fork, UT; Peter E. DeGraffenried, Homer, AK. Grandchildren: Chelsea, Jennifer, Carter and Carol (Dana); Jenna, Seth, Dalton, Ethan, Austin (Mark); Samuel, Jaron, Jade (Matthew); Brittany, Tyler, Christopher (Wendy); Cameron, Brigham, Gabriel, Gideon (Jared); Gregory Jr, Isaac, Lily, Abigayle (Heather); Alaina, Madilynn, Kyle, Owen (Rachael). Step-grandchildren: Christopher, Michael, Angela, Stephen, Tiffany, Paul (Jill); Emma, Scott, Eliza (Melinda). Great-grandchild: Hudson Hess (Jenna).

Lana Gayle DeGraffenried will be interred in the South Jordan City Memorial Park, located in South Jordan, Utah. Her final resting place will be adjacent to her daughter, Cherry Gayle, and Alan’s grandparents, James Monroe and Sadie Jane DeGraffenried. She will be sorely missed by her family who loved her very much.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the DeGraffenried Family through PayPal at


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