John Junior Bickmore

Oct. 11, 1929 – Oct. 21, 2018

John Junior Bickmore, 89, died peacefully on Oct. 21, 2018, in St. George, Utah.

He was born Oct. 11, 1929, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Rulon Smith Bickmore and Pearl La Rita Whalen Bickmore. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Diane Tueller Bickmore.

He grew up in Logan, Utah, where he claims to have gone swimming in the Logan River when you could still see ice. Later, he lived in Salt Lake City where he attended East High School and worked in the grocery business. For his senior year, his dad was transferred, and his parents moved to Great Falls, Montana, where he graduated from Great Falls High School in 1947.

After a year of college, he joined the Navy, where he served from 1948 to 1949. He served on the USS Curtiss, a flagship destroyer. He broke his wrist trying to be the first one to a mop bucket and, as a result, served in the laundry until his boondoggling skills landed him a job supervising the decoration of a main deck for the arrival of the admiral. One of the primary things he learned in the Navy was that maybe he liked college.

He returned to Logan and Utah State University, where he sat in the front row and asked questions if he didn’t understand something. He lived in the fraternity house, where he washed dishes and rented ¾-sleeve shirts, which he sewed (he never learned to finish a long sleeve) to his fraternity brothers who never seemed to have clean shirts for the weekend.

He graduated from Utah State University in 1952, but not before introducing himself to his “Dianiee” inside of Old Main. They were married Feb. 3, 1953, in the Logan Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Shortly after, they took a job selling Wolverine boots in Washington and Oregon 1953-1954 throughout lumber camps.

After slogging through the rain, he took a job working for J.C. Penney Co. from 1954 to 1989. He worked selling suits, shoes and jewelry in the old Penny’s store on Fremont Street in Las Vegas while doing management training. He later worked as a manager in El Paso, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; San Leandro, California; Reno, Nevada; and Lewiston, Idaho. I think all of his kids knew how to fit a shoe or at least make sure there was a thumb width for growth. They certainly knew it was a dumb idea to pay full price in a retail store. And yes, back in the day, plain pocket jeans from J. C. Penney were just as good as Levi’s.

Dad was always a missionary. He held the office of a Seventy in the Melchizedek Priesthood for many years and served as a stake missionary in both El Paso and Tucson. He and mom always seemed to have a Book of Mormon in the car and passed them around. They dutifully distributed a copy of Meet the Mormon to all their neighbors in El Paso when the church was building a new chapel. Many years later they discovered that a family that had received one of those books joined the church when they arrived in a new city and sought a place to worship. Later, he served in bishoprics and high councils in various places.

After retiring, they traveled around the United States in an Isuzu Impulse and a small tent for about a year. They then returned to St. George, Utah, built a retirement home with a lot of room, and promptly rented it when they accepted a call to serve The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Fort Worth, Texas Mission from 1993 to 1995. They loved helping missionaries. Within their family they sent four sons on missions and helped 11 grandsons, and many others that crossed their path go on missions as well.

Those that know him from Las Vegas, know of his great love of a week of camping on the beach. They went to Carlsbad or Oceanside for a week for nearly 40 years and along the way many friends joined them. He loved working on Volkswagens (We all know how to hold a light!) and it was all in training to get a Porsche.

Camping at the beach became easier with a series of Airstream trailers and allowed them to expand their reach. They spent many summers in Bellingham, Washington, parked in the trailer. They continued hauling around an Airstream until he was 82.

He never saw a piece of property for sale that he didn’t at least consider investigating. As a result, they owned property in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, California and Washington. There is still an unfinished lot on the East side of Bear Lake, Utah – any takers?

He loved watching basketball and he and Diane would attend high school and college games in St. George where most of the other people in the stands probably thought they had grandchildren playing.

He loved beach weather and especially San Diego. In later years, he wore Ecco sandals (with socks) and extolled their virtues to all who visited.

He loved music and loved to sing. When his kids were young there was a fleeting thought that we might be the next Osmond clone, until after a couple of gatherings around the piano everyone realized that maybe only he and Diane and any real musical talent and the kids had no patience for such work. He loved strumming on the ukulele and most of us can sit still and hear the beginnings of “Come to Happy Healthy Land.”

John is survived by his wife, Diane. He is remembered by siblings and their families: Jane Davis (deceased), Rulon D. Bickmore and Jerry Bickmore; his children: Steven T. Bickmore (Dana), Dawn Bickmore Hatch (Greg), Tina McKendrick (Jim), Jack T. Bickmore (Julie), Kent T. Bickmore (Leesa), and Terry T. Bickmore (Kim); 23 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, with three more on the way.

Funeral services

  • Funeral services will be Thursday, Nov. 1, at 11 a.m. at the Treasure Valley Ward Chapel, 450 W. 3650 South, Washington, Utah.
  • Visitations will be Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 6-8 p.m. at Metcalf Mortuary, 288 West St. George Blvd., St. George, Utah and Thursday, prior to services, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the church.
  • Interment will be at the Washington City Cemetery.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Metcalf Mortuary, 435-673-4221.

For condolences, full obituary and funeral listings please visit Metcalf Mortuary online.

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