Thatcher, AZ–101 years old, LaVona Jones Evans passed away at home in Thatcher, Arizona, on Friday, April 19, 2013. In memory of her life of service, hundreds of family and friends from around the country will gather, Saturday, April 27th in Safford and in Tucson’s Binghampton Cemetery to recall the stories of the woman many called “Grandma Love.”
It was one year ago, at the celebration of Arizona’s 100 anniversary, and her hundredth birthday, LaVona was selected to be the Grand Marshall of Gila Valley’s Centennial Parade. Born in Thatcher, on February 14, 1912, LaVona received her name from her “Papa” when he combined Arizona and Valentine to create “LaVona”. She was the 5th of 17 children born to her father.
At the age of five her mother died, whom she missed for the rest of her life. She attended school in Mesa, Chandler, Goodyear, Binghampton and Red Mesa, Colorado. Twenty years later her own children attended one of those schools, Davidson Elementary, in Binghampton.
In 1930 she married LaVar Price, at a time of her life she remembered as “heaven.” Just eight days after giving birth to her second child, La Var became seriously ill and died quickly. LaVona was left with a two year old son, her baby girl and only $30 dollars in Indian Head coins.
LaVona began working as a cook and housekeeper for the owners of Shamrock Dairy, at the time a small operation. John Quinton Hawkins, employed at Shamrock, was encouraged by his co-workers to date “the little Mormon widow”. They married and had three children. He passed away in 1970.
She married once more and had what has been called an “adventurous” life with Junius Evans along the San Pedro River. In 1980 they were called on a welfare mission to Tonga for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While there, Junius drilled the well for the Church’s Tongan Temple and LaVona loved and served the people. She learned and could speak Tongan fluently at the age of 68.
After their mission, they returned to Thatcher and built a home. When Junius passed away, she was happy being surrounded by her family. Her eggs, Jimmy Dean sausage, hamburger gravy and homemade bread were legendary and always available. She loved feeding everyone who came to the house.
She was a talented artist with paintings scattered around the country. Every one of her grandchildren was swaddled with her homemade quilts. She was busy crocheting, quilting, baking, walking the dog and loving until she passed away.
LaVona is survived by: her children, Norman Price (Loyce), Lavana Parke (Val); John Hawkins (Beth); David Hawkins (Sandy); Louise Jorgensen (Curt); seven siblings, Myles, Mary Eleanor, Kent, Vaughn, Elaine, Hugh and Maeveen; her stepchildren, Orville, Rose Marie, John, Brenna and Brenda; with numerous nieces and nephews, the oldest of whom is 92 year old Emily Tompkinson Simmons, whom LaVona would regularly visit.
The family will receive Friends, Friday, April 26, from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM at the Vining Funeral Home, 1940 South 20 Avenue, in Safford, Arizona, and then again Saturday morning, from 9:00 AM to 9:45 AM at the Thatcher Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 4050 West Second Street, in Thatcher. The Funeral Service will be held at the Thatcher Stake Center at 10:00 AM.
In Tucson, the concluding services and burial will be at 4:00 PM, in the Binghampton Cemetery, 4001 North Alvernon Way.