Johnny Esplin

On July 10th, our beloved father, brother, and grandfather passed away peacefully in his sleep. John (Johnny) Jay Esplin was born January 6, 1937 to Lawrence and Lucy Heaton Esplin. He was the youngest of seven kids. As a boy he worked with his family running sheep and was involved in FFA. He had a Salt Lake Tribune newspaper route and saved enough to buy his first and only bike and his first pair of boots for $13.
Johnny married his high school sweetheart, Virginia Hoyt, on October 14, 1955 in the St. George Temple. They had six children together. He began working out to Kaibab around that time and worked there for nearly twenty years. On July 4, 1973, Johnny and Virginia opened JV’s Café in Orderville, which was a town favorite for over 25 years.
He loved his family and spending time with them hunting and ranching in “The Oaks” of east Zion. Camping wasn’t complete without his sour dough biscuits. He was a gardener and phenomenal chef. He was famous for making and sharing homemade bread, salsa, and bleu cheese dressing.
Johnny was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He always made time for his home teaching callings and would always bring bread.
Johnny and Virginia were married for over 51 years. After Virginia passed away in 2007, he spent a lot of time on 4-wheeler expeditions, helping on the ranch, and repairing fences. After a few years, he and Shirley Brinkerhoff became companions and have enjoyed many years together camping, gardening, and swimming.
He is survived by Shirley, his brother, Israel Mack Esplin, sister, Verene Tait, his children Jonne Clark, Jeff (Tina) Esplin, VerJean (Bob) Caruso, Jay Esplin, Shane Esplin, Sean Esplin, 15 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren, and one great granddaughter.
The funeral service will be held 11 am on Monday, July 17, 2023, at the Orderville Church. With a viewing from 5 to 7 pm Sunday and 9:30 to 10:30 am prior to the funeral. He will be buried in the Orderville Cemetery.



  1. Steph Highes July 11, 2023 at 1:42 am - Reply

    Awwww grandpa we aren’t ready to live without you. You were such a great example of Christlike love and kindness. You never said anything bad about anyone. You were the best caregiver to all of us. The best cook of burgers, soups, bread, tacos, and pies. The best gardener. The best husband, father, grandfather. So sorry you had to suffer these last few years and am glad you aren’t suffering anymore. Found SO much strength in my own trials watching your strength. Love you gramps.

  2. Angie (Tait) McAlevy July 11, 2023 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Most of my best memories of home was at J.V’s. Lunch was always a taco and strawberry shake with Kaynita Brinkerhoff! Hugs to all of his family.

  3. Heidi Esplin Macfarlane July 12, 2023 at 1:04 am - Reply

    I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. Some of my favorite memories include Uncle Johnny, either up at the Oaks camping, where he and daddy would cook the BEST food in the world, or at JV’s cafe where he also cooked and baked the best food ever! I remember wonderful Thanksgiving’s at JV’s where the pies went on forever. His homemade hamburger buns were the best and his pies were extraordinary! He was so good and kind and I loved to listen to him and dad talk about growing up in Orderville and the Oaks and the “hunts” they went on.

    I have missed seeing him and my cousins. I will be there Monday and I send my heartfelt sympathy and love.

  4. Jeanette Esplin Hugh July 17, 2023 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Johnny was my first best friend. We were only 3 months apart and were double first cousins. In later years, he took us to see some of the treasures of Southern Utah and our heritage. We ate in his cafe many times and always enjoyed visiting with him. It’s true he was an excellent cook, Love and condolences to his family.

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