Life History of Trudy Workman 05/02/57 – 10/05/16
Trudy Workman, age 59, passed peacefully from this mortal life, at her home, on Wednesday October 5, 2016.
She was born on May 02, 1957 in Lovell, Wyoming, to Preston Duncan and Greta Godfrey Workman, who resided in Worland, at the time. There, she was welcomed by her 2 ½ year old sister Marla. Then when Trudy was around 2 years old, the family relocated to Billings, Montana, so Pres could complete his radiology training. Her aunt and Uncle, Sharon and Ken A. Blackburn, also lived in Billings during that time. They had two daughters, Debra and Denise; and between these four girls, there was an average age spread of 6-9 months. Her mother and Aunt exchanged childcare so fluidly, that these four cousins often felt like sisters themselves.
Trudy was a beautiful and happy baby; she was very photogenic, and even won a baby photo contest! She was active and independent; and early on, she demonstrated many impressive qualities. She cut her first tooth, said her first word, and took her first steps, all right around six months! Much to her mother’s dismay, this all happened under Aunt Sharon’s watch when her parents went away for a late honeymoon! She had a very determined spirit, and it wasn’t too long before she insisted on keeping up with her older sister every step of the way. At times, this was a great detriment, as there are many loved ones with memorables stories of times they had to step in and save Trudy from peril – when her drive proved greater than her capabilities!
She was quite a late talker, but it is believed that this was because she was so capable and independent that she could just go and get things for herself, without needing to be able to ask! She also was born with turned in feet; she was assigned special shoes, and they would draw a straight line with chalk that she had to practice her walking on. But this never phased her or slowed her down; she was very flexible and limber, a confident climber; she excelled at ice skating and learned to ride a bike, right alongside her older sister.
When her father completed his training, the Workman family made their final move, back to their home on Jersey Avenue in Lovell, Wyoming. Here, the girls were surrounded by friends and family, and Trudy had many fond memories of her generation running around together all throughout their neighborhood!!
She had a tremendous passion for music and a beautiful singing voice. She taught herself how to play the guitar by ear, and later learned how to read music and play the piano. She was obsessed with watching movies and she was also very theatrical. She participated in many community productions at both the Hyart Theater and up at Northwest Community College; and her most memorable role was probably as The Matchmaker in Lovell’s production of the Fiddler on the Roof. She was also crowned the Lovell Rodeo Queen, and felt very proud that she seized an opportunity to pin an iconic “Rose City” embroidered sticker onto the lapel of the rodeo’s guest of honor, John Wayne!
She was a wonderful baker; she made many wedding cakes for family and members of the community, and people always looked forward to her Christmas candies. She had a passion for entertaining, and she planned and facilitated many different events and themed parties. She had a tremendous love for animals and nurtured many family cats & dogs, her palomino horse Tonka, and at one point bred and reared over 100 parakeets. She developed a wide variety of collections, from VHS tapes to Barbie Dolls, and fancy hats! She treasured these items, and she was always diligent in caring for them.
She graduated from Lovell High School and attended Northwest Community college where she studied Theatre and speech. While attending Northwest, she participated in a class trip overseas to the United Kingdom. It was a trip of her lifetime, but she fell ill towards the end of it; and upon returning, she was too sick to finish out that academic term. Once she recovered, she transferred to BYU for a semester; and then her schooling was put on pause, about the time she entered into Motherhood.
Trudy had a passion for travel and adventure; and some of my fondest memories of my mother come from the many summer road trips we would take together: Mt. Rushmore, SLC, DEN, Las Vegas, Northern and Southern California, Seattle, and Branson, MO. I also cherish memories of all of the trips we would dream up and plan for, even though I knew their likelihood was very slim! During her young adult years, she resided in Powell, WY; Provo, UT; Billings MT; and Hammond, MT. She always considered Lovell to be her home however, and she spent the majority of her life living there with her parents. She also spent almost two years living in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
When she return from her experiences in the Caribbean as a single-mother, she enrolled in education classes at Eastern Montana College in Billings. In 1985 she received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
Now Trudy had many struggles academically, all throughout her school years; so her family felt extremely proud of her for this accomplishment! (Attending her graduation is one of my earliest memories.)
When Trudy was younger, she explored a wide variety of job options, some of which included: babysitting, working in the hospital cafeteria, at a gas station, selling Creative Memories, and one summer she did maintenance for the city’s parks & rec. She also worked up at the New Horizon Care Center as a C.N.A. for multiple years.
Her first teaching assignment was a two-year contract at Hawk’s Home, where she served the rural communities of Eastern Montana. She and her daughter moved to Hammond, MT, where she taught 7 students, K-5, in a one-room schoolhouse attached to the her home. She also taught her daughter during her Kindergarten year. When the Hawk’s Home assignment concluded, Trudy accepted another rural teaching position, this time in Clark, WY. At Clark, she taught first through third grade, concurrently. After that year, she moved back to her Lovell home, so she could better focus on being a full-time mom.
Shortly after her return, the Bob and Cathy Pratt family joined our community. Their daughter, Sarah, had some special needs that our school district was not adequately prepared for. Up to this point, verbal communication with their daughter had been a concerning struggle, and many felt she could greatly benefit from learning sign language. My mother accepted this challenge, got herself enrolled in sign language classes up at Powell, became proficient in ASL, and she continued to work alongside Sarah all the way through to her graduation!
Now learning ASL was another thing that was not easy for my mother, memorization was always one of her obstacles. I was around 7-8 at this time and she would come home from her class with her flash cards, enlisting me to help her practice. I was always enthusiastic to start out, but often times would end up expressing my frustrations to her, when I had all of the signs memorized and yet she still needed more practice. I can’t imagine that made my mother feel very good about herself, but she never pointed out my lack of empathy. Instead, she would tell me how grateful she felt to be blessed with such a bright child, and assured me that she WOULD get the hang of it eventually. And she did, and this is just one example of many times in my life where I had the privilege to witness my mother accomplish something she was passionate about, not because it was easy, but because she was unwilling to give up on herself. I have gotten through almost every difficult situation in my life, because of the example my mother set for me throughout her struggles in her own life; and I know her example has provided that strength to many others as well.
She was of service to many students through the school’s resource department, and this community was blessed to have her working with our exceptional children, as she truly understood the feelings of frustration involved when facing academic challenges. She believed that every child was special, that every kid had the right to learn and to explore their unique interests, and she firmly believed that if a student wasn’t learning, then that was as much a failure on the teacher’s part, as on the child. She would say, “every child learns differently, and it is a teacher’s job to learn how to teach to each student”.
She served as the head speech and debate coach at both Lovell and Rocky Mountain High Schools for nearly a decade. During this time, not only did she secure many medals and trophies for these school districts (including at least one state championship), but she also generated major portions of her team’s budget through her own creative devices. Most significantly, she provided countless teenagers with a structured environment for them to creatively grow and learn how to express themselves. A very proud moment for her, was when her own daughter qualified for the National Forensics Competition, and Trudy got to accompany her to Phoenix, AZ, as both a mother and a coach.
Around the time her daughter graduated high school, she received her endowments in the LDS Idaho Falls Temple, and this was a very personal and important accomplishment for Trudy. One more testimony of her commitment to pursue the things she was passionate about, despite facing chronic challenges.
Eventually, mounting disabilities concluded her career in education, and attending to her mental and physical health became her top priority. Her passing was sudden and unexpected, but it was also very peaceful; and for that, I hope we can all find gratitude.
She is preceded in death by her father, Preston Duncan Workman, and is survived by her mother Greta Godfrey Workman, sister and brother-in-law Marla & Norman Winters, her daughter Ryan, son-in-law Eric Cohen, and her two grandchildren Preston Indi Jones Cohen and Marlowe Jones Cohen. She is also survived by her uncles and aunts: Dennis & Rose Godfrey, Kenneth A. & Sharon Blackburn, Dallen Workman, and Claude & Glenna Workman, many cousins, and her nieces and nephews: Amy & Matt Gardner, Patricia Casey, Cliff & Meredith Winters, Rachel Winters, Victoria & Brandon Willis, Cozzette Winters, Scott & Stephanie Winters, and Lisa Winters. She was married to Richard Broderick Jones from 1980-1982, and developed lasting memories with her stepchildren H. Clay and April M. Jones. She was born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she always looked forward to church activities, even when she was unable to participate, and she accepted many different callings throughout her time, here on Earth.
I haven’t shared too many specific stories and memories about my Mom here in this piece, but many people have been sharing their memories of her with me; and I hope those who have, know just how much I will cherish these treasures.
When people have spoken to me about my mom, they speak of her generosity, her passion, and her relentless enthusiasm! They often speak of her talents, and many have admired her authenticity, her confidence in her style and personal preferences. She consistently championed for ‘the underdog’, and her compassion and empathy allowed many to feel comfortable turning to her when they found themselves feeling most vulnerable or overwhelmed.
Mental Health is something that is generally uncomfortable to talk about. But in order to authentically honor my mother, I would feel remiss were I not to address it briefly here in this space. Disability presents itself in many forms and fashions, and one is no more or less significant than another. Each presents its own unique set of challenges, as well as gifting certain opportunities to challenge our universal concepts of The Norm. Some afflictions, however, are far easier to identify and recognize than others. With awareness comes understanding, and it is through this understanding that tolerance, compassion, and grace, may blossom and grow. But I stand here to testify to you today that without awareness, it is most often guilt, shame, and rejection that can easily consume one’s spiritual flame. My mother was fairly open with many of her struggles; so much so that her openness most often made me very uncomfortable, and I know that I am not alone for feeling this way!
Mental illness can take you through some very dark paths and my mother encountered many challenges within herself that caused her to question her value, her sanity, and her purpose in this mortal existence. But my mother had a faithful soul, and a pillar of her faith in herself came from the comfort she found in:
1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
My mother spent significant portions of her life struggling with the unique challenges Heavenly Father had bestowed upon her; and she did suffer, probably more so than some are aware.
But she never gave up on herself, she rarely lost hope, and she always championed for her own pursuit of peace and joy.
This is my mother’s lasting legacy that I offer you.
In her loving memories, may we seek comfort in her eternal rest.
Peace, Mom, I love you so much.