Donley Rex Linford passed away on Feb. 7, at his home in Evanston. He was born Jan. 17, 1944, to parents Carwin H. and Phillis Martin Linford in Afton.
Donley married Lorna VanNoy on June 22, 1965, in Logan, Utah, and together they had five children. He graduated from the University of Wyoming School of Law, earning a Juris Doctorate in 1970. He was an attorney and practiced law in Uinta County in various capacities including public defender, county judge, prosecuting attorney and private practice.
It would be wrong to say that he loved every part of his job; it would be more accurate to say that he loved all of it that didn’t involve paperwork.
Probably the most apt description of Donley was “a character.” He would often tell stories about how he did something simply because someone told him he couldn’t, or shouldn’t do it. He loved to tease and generally did so regularly to anyone he cared about.
Even though Donley was an attorney and loved that work, he was always a cowboy at heart. Any opportunity he had, he would spend the weekend at Sam Lowham’s ranch doing anything that needed to be done. He would spend hours fixing fence, herding cattle and sheep and enjoyed staying up all night during calving season.
Hunting and fishing were a big part of Donley’s life. When he went hunting, he was all in. The annual elk hunt in the Greys River area was always an event that he looked forward to and which generated many stories. He loved to fish. His brothers used to joke that they could provide him with a bucket and the water and he would still be able to catch a fish out of it.
Donley was an avid reader and history buff. It was not uncommon for him to be reading three or four books at a time. He loved reading about family history, biographies of the Founding Fathers, the Civil War, and he especially loved Abraham Lincoln. He would share what he learned with anyone that would listen. He loved stories about his ancestors and was especially fond of the Linford and Martin family histories.
Donley was a great storyteller, especially if the stories involved hunting, fishing or his grandkids. Everyone was fair game. If you had done something funny, good, bad or if he was proud of it, you could rest assured that others would hear the story.
He was also a member of the Uinta County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees during the 1980s and served his country as a sergeant in the United States National Guard.
Donley was many things to many people. He was a rough and tumble Western man, an intelligent and clever country lawyer, a fiercely devoted grandfather. He was a well-read conversationalist and skillful debater with a flair for storytelling.
He liked his food spicy and his chocolate dark. In many ways he was the personification of his beloved Wyoming — harsh, demanding, sometimes unforgiving — but underneath the tough exterior lived a heart as wide open as a Wyoming sky. He had a deep compassion for people in trouble. He was a champion of the underdog and many lives were blessed by his knowledge of the law and his belief in second and sometimes third and fourth chances. He didn’t like excuses and throughout his brutal health battle the past few months he remained stubborn and strong to the very end.
Special thanks go to those medical professionals who were so helpful and caring during Donley’s battle with cancer. He spent a lot of time receiving health care over the last six months. He was at the University of Utah Hospital, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Northern Utah Rehabilitation Hospital, Rocky Mountain Care and the Evanston Regional Hospital Emergency Room.
During all of those adventures, his goal was always to come home. The great staff at Best Home Health and Hospice made it possible for him to be at home as much as possible during that time and especially made it so he could return home and be surrounded by family when he passed away. He really enjoyed getting to know all of those who took care of him and truly appreciated everyone who helped him during his illness.
He is survived by his wife, Lorna Linford; daughters, Donalea (Mikel) Faver of Orland, California, Carien (Trevell) Anderson of Vernal, Utah; sons, Rex (Judy) Linford of Dallas, Oregon, Darin (Amanda) Linford of Evanston, and Ryan (Rebekah) Linford of Bonney Lake, Washington; sisters, Lynette Cornia of Malad, Idaho, and JoAnn (Ron) Galloway of Afton; and brothers Alan (Linda) Linford of Afton, and Robert (Linda) Linford of Afton.
He is also survived by 21 grandchildren and soon-to-be three great-grandchildren.
Donley is preceded in death by his parents.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the LDS Sixth Ward Chapel, 1225 Morse Lee St.
A viewing will be at Crandall Funeral Home from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, and from 9-9:45 a.m. at the church on Saturday.
Following the funeral, a short viewing will be held from 2:30-3:30 p.m. at the LDS Third Ward in Afton, 165 East Fifth Ave. Interment with military honors will be in the Afton Cemetery at 3:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Evanston Youth Center or Youth Alternative Home in Donley’s memory would be very appreciated.
Online condolences may be given at crandallfhevanston.com.