John Merlin Topham, 88, of Payson, Utah, passed away peacefully in his home on Thursday, September 8, 2022.
He began life in Salt Lake City, Utah, born to Merlin June and Dorothy Pratt Giles Topham on July 12, 1934. He was the second of seven sons. He grew up in Salt Lake City and graduated from West High School, where he participated in the aviation club, printing and band.
John joined the Naval Reserve after high school, training as a hospital corpsman. That training in first aid and knot tying came in very handy as the father of a large family. It seemed like he was forever fixing up childhood bumps and scrapes or tying this, that, or the other thing into place.
He attended the University of Utah, where he played percussion in the marching band. Catching his eye, was a pretty flutist from Lehi, Utah.
John married DonnaRae Jones in the Salt Lake Temple on September 3, 1954, and just surpassed their 68 anniversary at the time of his passing. They began their married life as students at the University of Utah, moving to Lehi in 1955, where they spent the next year and a half. Following a brief period in Seattle, Washington, and Kanesville, Utah, they settled in Ogden where they stayed for 16 years. They then resided for 42 years in Kaysville before moving to Payson in 2017.
The teachings of Jesus Christ were important in John’s life and he was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in a variety of callings including with the young men and in the stake mission presidency in Ogden, Utah. Despite failing health, he strived to attend worship services and was in attendance just four days before passing away, firm in the faith.
Dad was very proud of each of his children and loved to tell people about them. He worked hard all his life to provide for his family, holding a variety of jobs including surveyor’s assistant, industrial engineer, private investigator, and working in the aerospace industry.
Always ready with a joke or funny story, he loved to bring a smile to others’ faces. He kept his sense of humor to the end – and is likely telling jokes even now. He loved people and often engaged complete strangers in conversation. One remarkable aspect of his humor, though, is that he didn’t use his wit to put others down. If there was to be a brunt of the joke, he used himself.
Dad’s favorite pastimes included reading Louis L’amour novels, birding, attending activities of his grandchildren, going for drives in the mountains, telling stories and watching political commentary.
He is survived by his wife, DonnaRae Jones Topham of Payson; his children Russell (Rose) Topham of Layton, Utah; Ralph (Janet) Topham of Sacramento, California; Dale (Michelle) Topham of Everett, Washington; Douglas (Marcia) Topham of Mesa, Arizona; Curtis (Julissa) Topham of Bremerton, Washington; Craig Topham of Troy, Missouri; Jolyn (Robert) Peck of Spanish Fork, Utah; Jodi (Rodney) Zabriskie of Payson, Utah; and Lisa (Blake) Nelson of Hyde Park, Utah. He is also survived by his brothers Daniel (Cheryl) Topham of Bountiful, Utah; Paul (Ann) Topham of Pleasant Grove, Utah; and Stephen Topham of Salt Lake, Utah. Additionally, there are 39 grandchildren, 47 great grandchildren (and counting), and 1 great-great grandchild. He is also survived by 39 grandchildren, 47 great grandchildren (and counting), and 1 great-great grandchild.
John is reuniting with his parents; 3 brothers, Karl, Lawrence, and Evan; daughter Juliann; daughter-in-law, Jordanna; and granddaughter Alexandri, who preceded him in death.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, September 16, 2022 at 12:00 noon at the Payson 19th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 482 West 1400 South, Payson, Utah. A viewing will be held Thursday evening at the church from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. and preceding the services Friday from 10:00 -11:30 a.m. Interment will be in the Payson Cemetery.
Funeral service will also be streamed at this link.