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Aug. 12, 1920 – Jan. 26, 2018
LaVon Pardini, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed away peacefully in her sleep at 97 years of age, having lived a full and happy life of accomplishment and purpose. LaVon touched many with her zest for life, her amazing talents, and her commitment to music education and performance.
LaVon Pardini led what she called, in these latter years, “a remarkable life.” When asked how she was doing she would perk up and respond, “I feel great! I’ve had a wonderful life. My health is good, and I am grateful for my blessings.” She is the mother of 10 children, and believed Motherhood to be her greatest accomplishment in life. LaVon married Ivan Thomas in 1942, who passed at a young age and is the father of a son, Val Thomas who passed in 1998, and daughter Gay Thomas McCall. LaVon was married to Enrico “Hank” Pardini in 1951, and together they increased the family 4 fold, welcoming Denise Pardini, Marc Pardini, Brett Pardini (passed in 2006), Lisa Pardini-Bishop, Racquel Pardini-Allen, Andra Pardini-Frevel, Janeen Pardini-Gordon, and Kim “little Hank” Pardini. LaVon and Hank were crazy about each other, and the “dynamic duo” for 50 years of wedded bliss.
Thriving on love and hard work, the pair raised their 10 children to adulthood in Walnut Creek, and embraced the adventure of life together, until Hanks passing in 2001. Life was full of neighborhood kids, cooking, canning, camping, gardening (despite moms brown thumb), picnics, music lessons, baseball games, visits on Sunday afternoons to grandparents, cousins, and friends, and much more. LaVon was a great lover of travel, and did travel the country and the world at every opportunity, with her husband, friends, and many of her children. Always active and vital in her LDS church activities, contributing time and energy, especially in music and the arts, Lavon was well regarded and had many friends with whom close contact was enjoyed for her entire life.
Born Phyllis LaVon Wright, of Ogden, Utah, to Charles Edward Wright and Emily Ronalda Russell. LaVon was the first of three children, with brother, E. Wayne Wright born in 1925, and baby sister, Karma Wright-Colovich born in 1931. LaVon spent the first 15 years of her life in Ogden, Utah where her grandparents, many aunts and uncles, and myriad cousins abounded as friends and playmates, throughout the Ogden and Uintah Valleys. LaVon’s natural ability for music, song, and dance became evident before her school days, with the support of her mother Roe, who encouraged her and allowed her to perform, both in public and LDS church talent exhibitions from that young age. She also studied piano, and at age 10, her father was transferred to Carlin Nevada with Southern Pacific Railroad. LaVon would ride the train from Carlin to Ogden for her weekly piano lesson, stay with her grandmother overnight and take the train home the following day. That’s 2 years of dedication! At 13 years old, and back in Ogden, LaVon and her beloved cousin, “bestie” Leah Kendall from Uintah, sang together on their own weekly musical radio broadcast from a local Ogden radio station. Bigger than life even at that young age, “little bit”, as she was often called due to her tiny stature, never let her diminutive size hold her back.
In 1935, following the depression, Southern Pacific transferred the family to San Francisco, where the little family from Utah moved to the big city with little more than the bags they carried. LaVon enrolled in historic Lowell High School where she flourished. Also active in the San Francisco LDS community, LaVon became a youth music and dance teacher and leader, and soon distinguished herself at church and at school in vocal music, dance and drama. As a horn player in Lowell HS band, she became Major, and graduated with honors in 1938. A familiar face in local talent competitions, LaVon soon was introduced to the San Francisco big band leader, Ernie Heckscher, and secured a position as female vocalist. LaVon was later invited to tour with that orchestra, but her mother discouraged her from travelling as a lone girl with “disreputable band musicians”.
In her early 20’s LaVon accepted the conductorship of the San Francisco LDS Ward choir, and began a musical journey that truly defined her calling as a music professional. A feisty and imaginative choral director for over 60 years, LaVon has directed countless choral groups of all ages, directed musical theatre productions, written minstrel shows, arranged music, choreographed dance productions, performed solo works, has sung duets, trios, quartets, quintets, and on, with all who would join with her, from her cousins to her parents, to her friends, her husband, and her children., LaVon began teaching piano and voice privately in 1962, and hundreds of students and decades later, LaVons legacy of music is indisputable. LaVon rocked it.
A determined soul, LaVon outlived both parents and siblings by 22 years, and suffered the loss of two of her wonderful sons, Val and Brett. One of LaVons legacies is her devotion to broad and deep friendships across family and friends. She maintained them in word and deed throughout her life, and are too many to name. They each know who they are. LaVon will be immortalized and deeply missed by her surviving 8 children and their partners, 31 Grandchildren, gazillion Great-Grandchildren, and generations to come. We take joy in knowing she is reunited with so many loved ones, and is in our Father’s arms, singing and dancing once again with her beloved husband.
Services will be held at 12:00pm on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018, at the LDS Lafayette Ward chapel, located at 2369 Overlook Drive, Walnut Creek, CA (originally named the Walnut Creek Ward Chapel). Family gathering and prayer at 11:00am in R.S. room. Internment following at Memory Gardens. (aka: Boot Hill Cemetary to our dad)
Please, take a moment and share your memory of LaVon with her loved ones on the Oak Park Hills Chapel page.