The following is written with information which appeared in the Hooper 5th Ward Newsletter in 1986 written by Marion about her sister Marie. Some information is added from Grandma’s life history.
Marie Widdison was born in Hooper, the seventh of eleven children in the family of James G. and Lillian Gardner Widdison. She had five brothers and five sisters.
She was given the name Alice Marie, Alice for Grandma Widdison and Marie for Grandma Gardner. At that time their house had electricity and inside plumbing which many families in Hooper did not have.
Hooper, during her young life was like one big happy family. Everyone knew everyone else. Most everyone was LDS and their activities were pretty well centered around the church and the Ward.
She attended school in Hooper through the ninth grade, and she had teachers such as Dawson Hales and Bowman Hawkes, who inspired her to love literature and music. She sang in a girls trio and belonged to a ukulele group that Mr. Hales had them perform on KLO Radio and they entertained in the many surrounding wards.
She loved to play volleyball and softball. They always had good teams and they won occasional championships. One year they played against some Salt Lake teams and won the state championship.
She attended Weber High, where she was on the yearbook staff and belonged to a writing club called Scriptus Magnus. She graduated from Weber High and Weber Seminary in 1937.
During the summer of 1938, Marie, Donna, and Ruth picked beans for Ellis Belnap. Their father had been very ill and they were all worried about him. He was in the Dee Hospital recovering from surgery. They were in the bean field when Bert’s Ruth came and told them that their father had died. That was the first real sadness that had come into their lives and it was a real difficult time for all of them.
After high school, she attended Weber College for two years. Her best friends were Helen McCloy and Aleen Hunt. The next year Marie, Helen, and Aleen went to Logan to Utah State. That was their “fun” year. Six girls, three from Hooper, two from Star Valley, and one from Malad had an apartment right off campus. At first they came home on weekends, but they had such a good time that later they came home only when they were really low on food.
After graduation she got a job teaching in Eden, Utah. The next year she was assigned to be a principal at the school in Taylor. During the summer she had a chance to work at Hill Field. It was war time, and they needed workers. She could make more money at Hill Field, so she gave up teaching. With that large salary, she was able to buy a car—a Chevy coupe with a horn that played Yankee Doodle. Then she could take her family and friends where she liked, such as Logan or Star Valley. Gas was rationed because of the war, but friends could pool their ration stamps, so they could still travel.
During the war, Milt was a chaplain in the Army and spent much of his time overseas. Bert was in the Navy and Don was in the Army. Eventually the war ended, and life became a little less scary. She stayed on at Hill Field.
In December 1945, Bishop Verg Jensen called her into his office and talked to her about going on a mission. After discussing it at home it was decided that she should go.
One Sunday, just before Christmas, Barrett Haws came to their home. He had known Milt in Hawaii and Okinawa. He was not yet out of the navy so he was still in uniform and Marie was impressed. During the next month he dropped in every now and then to see Milt.
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1946, Marie went to Salt Lake and picked up her mission call at the Church Office Building. It was to the Southern States Mission and she was happy. When she arrived home from Salt Lake Marion said that Barrett had called. He was in Ogden and said that he would call back. He called and asked her if she would like to go to a show. They went to dinner at Ede’s and to a show at the Orpheum Theater. They discussed her mission call, but continued to date. In March they began getting serious so they made an appointment with Joseph Fielding Smith. He encouraged them to get married so on April 16, 1946 they were married in the Salt Lake Temple.
Barrett’s parents were living away from home, so after a three-week honeymoon to the Northwest and Canada, they moved into his parents’ home in Salt Lake City. Barrett went to photography school on the G.I. bill and they moved to Heber and opened a photo studio. Later Barrett was hired by the Genealogical Society to go to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to do microfilming.
After being in Harrisburg for about a year, and having been married nearly five years, Marie was expecting a baby. They were so excited that they wanted to come home, so they returned to Salt Lake. Barrett went to work at Hill Field and life seemed beautiful. On Wednesday November 29th 1950 they had a son and decided to name him Kenneth Eugene and call him Kenny.
In May 1951 when Kenny was 6 months old they sold their house in Salt Lake and moved to Hooper. They bought the house Grandma lived in from Arch and Elon.
They had fun living in Hooper with Kenny. Marion had Bobby; Ruth had Larry; Margaret had Steven; Lorell had Kent; and Donna, who lived in Farmington, had Ronnie.
Over the next few years, three more sons were added to the family: Greg, Wayne and Alan.
In 1956 they added a double garage onto the house and started a feed business that Marie could handle while Barrett was at Hill Field. They called the business: Haws Sales and Service. A year later, Barrett had health problems and retired from Hill Field. They closed the feed store.
Marie decided to go back to teaching for a year to pay off the medical bills. She got a job teaching first grade at Municipal School. She went to teach for one year, but stayed for twenty-three.
Marie has had a busy, active life teaching in all the ward auxiliaries, being on the Sunday School stake board, president of the Young Women in Salt Lake and Hooper, and teaching the Gospel Doctrine for seven years. She has made books of remembrance, written books of family histories, of family stories, of missionary stories, and published a book of her poetry.
She was editor of the Hooper Messenger, a paper published for service men and town people during the war.
She wrote the Municipal School song and several road shows. She has been president of the Hooper Women’s Club and captain of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
She and Barrett did a lot of travelling. He died on June 4, 1984. After his death, she took trips with her family and saw the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii, New Zealand and many other trips and cruises. She worked in the Ogden Temple and the Computer Center for Church Records.
In 1987 she met Delmont Beecher while working in the Ogden Temple. They were married in March, 1987. They went on trips to Hawaii, New Zealand, London and other places. They served a mission to Billings, Montana working with the Crow Indians. Delmont died in 1997.
Marie loved Hooper, her home, and her beautiful yard. Together with her mother and sisters, their corner of town was always a show place of flowers, green lawns, silver balls, and even Christmas lights.
She and her sisters were famous for their daily meetings on her patio at 10:00am. There was rarely a day that any of them missed their 10:00 meeting. She lived in her cherished home and until recently took care of herself and her yard.
Marie was the unofficial historian of Hooper and the “go-to girl” when it came to Hooper History. She would often get strangers knocking on her door with questions about Hooper. She also has written and published family histories and poems for family and friends. She was a principal writer and publisher of a community history entitled “Hooper, Our Home-Town”.
She was a huge BYU fan and could be found watching, attending, or listening to most BYU sporting events as well as BYU devotionals. She loved the Book of Mormon. She bore her testimony often both in word and by example.
Her teaching career didn’t end when she retired from teaching school. She constantly taught her children and grandchildren about how to live and love.
She now has 22 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren of her own.
She dearly loved her family, especially her sons and their wives as well as their children and grandchildren. Marie made so many true friends throughout her life. With her family constantly growing, she has left a grand legacy and her memory will love on.
Grandma, we love you and will always treasure you in our hearts. May the Lord bless us so to do.