Muriel Elaine Mann was one of a kind.
She was strong, loving, compassionate, giving, and charitable. She followed the example of Jesus Christ.
Elaine was born June 20, 1926 in Denver, Colorado to Elwood Winthrop and Jessie Dorothea (Baldwin) Smith. Her mother often mentioned that she was almost born in the mountains. Her family frequently went to the mountains on Sunday afternoon after church to have a picnic lunch there by a mountain stream and relax. They just made it home in time the day she was born. Her mother always remarked that Elaine was “almost born under a pine tree.”
Her father was a carpenter. He built many homes in the Denver area, some close to where they lived, including a house on 1411 South Franklin Street. They settled into that home when she was just a few days old. Her father also built the house next door, which they moved into when it was finished. She lived there until she married in 1952.
Elaine originally thought that she would like to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder, but her father said no, that University of Denver was really close, and living home would be less expensive. She met her husband in a Zoology class and announced their engagement at a Sorority dinner. She graduated 1949 in Dietetics.
Elaine applied for an internship and was accepted at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. During her residency her father died, and she made the trip home for a week and then returned again to Dayton. She was one of eight interns and lived in a two story house on the hospital grounds. Her roommate was the only one that had a car and would take the eight of them around. She remembers having a lot of fun together. One Sunday she went to a near-by church when not scheduled for duty. The minister spoke about his vacation in the Colorado Mountains and made her so homesick, she cried.
Elaine was married June 8, 1952 to Gayward Neal Mann at Washington Park Community Church. Gay later attended law school, and they relocated to Virginia for his employment. It was in Washington DC where their daughter Linda was born. Eventually, they returned to Denver for a short time, but then Gay accepted a position at Point Mugu Naval Base in California. So they moved to Ventura and found an apartment at the Buenaventura Gardens Apartment complex. It was nice being close to the Ventura mall and to the local grade School. She writes that Linda really enjoyed the swimming pool, but not too long after that they moved to a home on 872 Colina Vista where she lived for 35 years.
Elaine loved square dancing and participated in clubs faithfully since she was a young woman at the University of Denver. She square danced regularly and liked it very much. Elaine tells the story that when they lived in Denver, she persuaded Gay to learn how to Square Dance. She convinced him to go to a potluck Square Dance activity at the church where they were married. He went even though he said square dancing didn’t interest him and only attended to satisfy her. She promised Gay that they would go home after the potluck, but once the caller got them all into a large circle and taught some basic steps then put them in squares, Gay had the time of his life and could hardly wait until the following September to take lessons. They danced weekly or more and were favorites in their square dance clubs. They enjoyed square dancing all over California.
They joined a square dance club in Oxnard called the Romping Stompers and held all the offices in the club. They instigated many parties, picnics, and many other activities with the club. Following Gay’s death in 1972, Elaine continued to dance faithfully in various square dance groups in California and later with the Guys and Gals, then the Mavericks in Utah. She square danced for nearly 68 years.
Elaine supported her daughter in every way. She took Linda and her friends to Osmond concerts as often as Linda could convince her to make the trip to Las Vegas or down to LA, and it happened frequently. She and Linda are best of friends and they travelled together to Hawaii, Washington DC, Disneyland, and many other destinations.
At the visitors center of the LDS church she signed the guest book and the next she knew a couple months later, 2 missionaries came knocking on her door, and they asked her how she liked Hawaii. And of course Linda was there and said “Let them in.” She knew who they were as she had seen them on the street. So that was the beginning of their lessons with the missionaries. Linda wanted to join the church and be baptized. Elaine was not sure and insisted Linda complete the confirmation class at the Church of the Foothills, which she did but persisted in joining the Mormon Church. So Elaine gave in and Linda was baptized at 15-years-of-age. Elaine followed shortly thereafter and was baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in January 1980.
Later, she was sealed to her husband for time-and-all-eternity in the Los Angeles temple. Family has always been of upmost importance to her.
Elaine worked as a dietician for 42 years, 20 at the Camarillo State Hospital. Retiring in 1992, she relocated to Orem to be near her family once again. We saw her frequently and had Sunday dinners at her home nearly every week. She made friends in her new neighborhood, ward, square dancing groups, and among family acquaintances. Elaine answered to many names, but “Gma” was her favorite, and ours. We enjoyed having her over to dinner and a visit at our house frequently in recent years. Gma’s hobbies include scrapbooking, square dancing, travelling, genealogy, temple work, and family. Elaine spent many years serving in the Mount Timpanogos Temple. We expect that she has helped dozens perhaps hundreds of people on both sides of the veil. Now that her ill health is no longer a barrier, she will no doubt continue her service on the other side of the veil.
After more than 46 years, Elaine has been reunited with her sweetheart Gayward. They spent many happy years together and are now finally back with each other. Certainly their reunion was sweet.
A few years ago now, Elaine sat down at the computer, which normally intimidated her, and she composed her journal and shared some life experiences: 18-single-spaced typed pages. Because of that, we can cherish this memoir and her memory. Her charm and character are manifest throughout its pages. Her memories and anecdotes are fun to both read and share, though just a glimpse into the life of this special woman, mother, grandmother, and friend-to-all.
Elaine was a jewel of a person and always wanted what was best for everybody—friends, family, acquaintances, and absolutely everyone she met.
Many knew and loved Elaine and a lucky few had a turn in the square-dance-of-life with her.
We consider ourselves some of the most fortunate.