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Belle was born on January 17, 1919, in Salt Lake City, to Gerrit deJong, Jr. and Rosabelle Winegar deJong. Her only brother passed away as an infant six years before Belle's birth.
In 1925 the deJong family moved to Provo where her father organized the College of Fine Arts at B.Y.U. Belle received her education from first grade through college on one block in Provo, now called Academy Square. She graduated from B.Y. High School with high honors and spoke as valedictorian. She entered college at 17 and was voted one of the Freshman Queens. Later she was chosen Representative Home Coming Queen. She posed as a photographic model for B.Y.U. Studios during her college years.
In 1939 she was married to her college sweetheart, Dean Van Wagenen, in the Salt Lake Temple by Apostle David O. McKay. Soon after Belle's marriage, her mother died and for the next two years Belle and Dean helped her father care for her two little sisters.
In her 58 years of marriage, Belle devoted her best efforts to bettering the lives of her husband and four children. She made their home comfortable and artistically unique. The mountainside yard surrounding her home received personal hard work and exacting care to reflect her love of nature.
In early childhood she developed a love of literature and it was furthered by excellent teachers at B.Y.U. In her 50's, Belle began to write poetry, essays, and stories. She was a member and officer in League of Utah Writers, Utah State Poetry Society and the National League of American Pen Women. She has won over 100 awards in contests. She won 1st and 2nd place prizes from B.Y.U. in essay contests in her later years. She was Sweepstakes winner for State of Utah for several years.
She has presented countless programs for church groups, clubs, and civic organizations - usually using her own poetry and light verse to amuse and also to teach. Her writing has been published in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies nationwide.
Her poetry has been included in the official volumes of "Utah Sings" and featured in dramatic programs by the S.L.C. Babcock Reading Arts Society. It has often been read on the air in the Sunday "Sound of Music" programs on KSL Radio.
She has gathered her light verse together in a volume to be entitled "Life Could Be Verse - But Not Much." Her serious poems, stories, and essays will be called "On Wings of Written Words." She loved humor and wrote that it "provided stepping stones to lift us above the rapids of despair."
She has always served in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where she ably filled stake and ward administrative and teaching positions. Her favorite calling was as a teacher of Relief Society for 27 years.
As Chairman of Volunteers for Utah County Chapter of American Red Cross, she supervised blood drives, volunteered in nursing homes, and worked with troubled girls. She always cared about "equal rights" for everyone - academically, politically and religiously.
She enjoyed lecturing on literature in the local schools, and for many years she helped judge the writing section of the "Reflections" contests. During 58 years of marriage, Belle and Dean enjoyed traveling and learning about other cultures together.
She treasured her friends and family and they benefited from her appreciation of beauty and the aesthetic experience.
English was her major, and reading was her life-long hobby. She also designed and crocheted baby clothes and blankets. She always crocheted as she looked at TV and claimed, "TV only takes half a brain and crocheting uses the other half."
Her husband passed away in 1997 and she is survived by one daughter, three sons, 24 grandchildren, and 37 great-grand children & 1 great-great grand child. Her family always came first as a sacred priority in her life. Her children are Julie Van Wagenen Aidukaitis, Paul Van Wagenen, Norman Van Wagenen, and Ken Van Wagenen.
Copyright © 2020 Ken Van Wagenen and the Van Wagenen Family - Los Angeles, California - All Rights Reserved.