Dennis Ray Mosdell, age 76, died Thursday, May 9, 2019, in the Dixie Regional Hospital in St. George, Utah, from complications of a stroke. He was born April 16, 1943 in Torrance, California to Wayne Perkins and Thelma McBride Mosdell, the second of four children. Wayne and Thelma had moved to Torrance to allow Wayne to work as a welder in the shipyards, and he was later drafted into the Military. After Wayne’s service was over, the family moved back to Cedar City, Utah.
Dennis grew up in Cedar City, Utah, and graduated from Cedar High School. He spent many wonderful days with his cousins roaming the hills around the town, causing mischief. His McBride family was centered around Paragonah, Utah, and many summer days saw McBride grandsons building forts, playing in the creek, and generally acting out every scene you have ever seen in a Norman Rockwell painting. They were notorious for getting into the creek on “wash days”, stirring up the red dirt that then went down through the pipes and stained all the white sheets into a lovely shade of pink.
When Dennis was about 18, he was convinced by some special friends to go back to church, a habit he had fallen out of early in his life. He became very active, and subsequently served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Florida area. He loved the great experiences he had while serving the people there. Upon being honorably released from his mission, he returned to Cedar City, and started his secondary education. He first worked for Leigh Furniture, who sent him to New York City to the New York School of Design, where he graduated with a Interior Design degree. He returned to Cedar, and shortly started attending the College of Southern Utah, (now SUU), studying teaching. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. During these years, he became interested in teaching Seminary for the Church, and also graduated from the Institute program as a Seminary Teacher.
While attending college, Dennis served as the President of the new Latter-day Saint Student Association, a pilot Church program being started, and had the chance to associate with several General Authorities of the church as a result. It was while coordinating an Instutute function he was swept away by a young lady who all her friends called “Mother Brown”, a girl from the small town of Moccasin, Arizona. Their paths crossed when she made a dessert he loved, and he asked her on a date. It was only a few weeks later when he asked her to marry him, and they were married for time and all eternity in the St. George Temple on August 12, 1966. As part of their “whirlwind romance”, Lurana took him to Moccasin to meet the family, and made him swing on the “Long Reservoir Swing” to make sure he was right for her.
During his teaching career, Dennis taught in Cedar City, was the coordinator for early morning seminaries in the Phoenix, Arizona valley, and taught in Fillmore. After Fillmore, he made a change to selling Funeral Insurance, working with his uncle Dallen Williams back in Southern Utah. The family moved from Fillmore to the St. George area, where they lived in several homes, including in Santa Clara. They had one of the very first homes in Santa Clara Heights. It was during this time that Dennis started helping Kenneth Metcalf of Metcalf Mortuary do funerals and help grieving families, a change that would become his calling for the rest of his life.
The Mosdell family moved to Cedar City to manage the mortuary there for a few years, then to Lomita, California for Dennis to finish his Mortuary Science Degree. They lived in a little one bedroom apartment over the top of the embalming room at A.M. Gamby Mortuary for nearly a year with five children. The relationships they developed at that mortuary were to last a lifetime, even though it was a struggle. After graduating from Cypress Community College with a Funeral Science Degree, the family moved to Moccasin, Arizona, where Lurana was raised. They spent a little over a year there, until Dennis was able to find work managing Spilsbury Mortuary in nearby Kanab, and the family then moved to several homes in Kanab, settling into their current home on Christmas eve of 1983. Starting from when they lived in Moccasin, Dennis also found a job at Kanab Interiors working for the Phil and Gaye Baird family, another relationship that sparked lifetime friends. The Bairds were kind enough to allow Dennis to let him spend the night in the store with his children, watching Laser Disc movies of Star Wars and numerous other popular movies on the TVs (the family didn’t get their own TV until the early 80’s), sleeping on the water beds, cooking in the really neat Radar Ranges, and sliding down the stairs on cardboard boxes and carpet samples. The family would get up early to make sure everything was clean before the Bairds showed up for work.
In 1981, Dennis bought the mortuary in Kanab, founding Mosdell Mortuary. A few years earlier, he had agreed to be the Kane County and Kanab City Judge, and had also been called to be a Bishop of the 2nd Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had to let go of his job at the Interiors, but was the Judge, Bishop and Mortician in town for many years, also adding 3 more children, their “Bishop’s Bonus”, to the 5 they already had. He was active in many community events, and loved serving the entire area as a Funeral Director, serving an area from Page, Arizona including the Navajo Reservation, the wonderful friends of the Kaibab Paiute Reservation, family from over the hill in Iron County, and the people of Garfield County as well.
In 1998, Dennis and son Jeffery started construction on the current Mosdell Mortuary building, which Dennis designed inside and out. He was so grateful for the chance to use all his skills he had developed over the years to make a place where people could come to grieve and heal. It was completed in 1999, and in 2018, a renovation was started that was recently completed, another achievement he was most proud and humbled by. He never thought in his craziest dreams that the business would grow to be able to support his family and three sons, and always expressed his humility in accepting the goodness poured out by the Lord on our family as we served the people of the area. He would constantly remind his sons in corporation meetings how much we had to be thankful for, and how much responsibility we had to serve others because of our blessings.
To recap, during his life Dennis served in the following positions, some numerous times: Bishopric Councillor, Bishop, Branch President a the Kane County Jail, Stake High Councillor, Stake Young Men’s President, Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Temple Ordinance worker, Seminary Teacher, and many others. He worked as a dishwasher, cook, field hand, interior decorator, high school teacher, seminary teacher, insurance salesman, judge, and finally funeral director. He served in many community positions, landscaped and maintained a lovely home and raised eight children with his hard-working wife Lurana, and loved giving service to all. He taught hard work, kindness, forgiveness, and love to all he came in contact with. He struggled to let go of negative personality traits learned during his younger years, striving each year to be a little better husband, father, grandfather and friend, recognizing that we all have areas that need improvement. His wisdom, kindness and love was shared by many, and will be greatly missed by all he touched.
Dennis loved the out-of-doors, hiking and camping with friends and family. He loved family reunions on both sides, spending many hours and days with the Heaton, Brown, McBride and Mosdell clans reminiscing, laughing, eating (always eating), and generally enjoying the people he was connected to through them. He and Lurana loved gardening, maintaining “The Orchard” as a family gathering space, and improving his home and mortuary through projects. While he greatly valued his relationships with his many friends and acquaintances, his crowning achievement was always and will always be his family. He was constantly grateful for his good fortune in his eternal companion Lurana, was so thankful for his children, and spoiled his “perfect grandchildren” to no end. One of his friends once said, “If I believed in reincarnation, I would want to come back as one of Dennis Mosdell’s grandkids.” His many relatives by blood and marriage know he leaves a legacy of doing good that can truly make the world a better place.
Survivors include wife Lurana of Kanab; children Leighn (Jody) Mosdell of Salem, Utah, Jeffery B. (Pamela) Mosdell of Kanab, Aimee (Daniel) Bartlett of Las Vegas, Nevada, James Mosdell of Kanab, Christian (Hollie) Mosdell of Kanab, Denee (Jared) Childers of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Spencer (Sarah) Mosdell of Kanab, and Camille (Kevin) Grew of Kanab; brother Lynn (Jane) Mosdell of Leeds, Utah; sister Lorraine (Fred) Nelson of Mesa, Arizona; 29 grandchildren, 1 great-grandson, and one more great-granddaughter on the way. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Dale Mosdell, and one grandson Gregory Dennis Mosdell.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 11:00 AM in the Kanab Utah South Chapel (602 South HWY 89A) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Viewings will be held Friday evening from 6:00-8:00 PM at the Chapel, and Saturday morning from 9:30-10:45 am at the Chapel. Burial in the Kanab Cemetery will follow services, with burial honors from the Kaibab Paiute Tribe he loved after the dedication of the grave. Arrangements were lovingly handled by his sons who carry on his traditions at Mosdell Mortuary.