Cover photo for Barbara Van Wyngaarden Ray's Obituary

Barbara Van Wyngaarden Ray

August 28, 1953 — January 10, 2024

 

Barbara Van Wyngaarden Ray

August 28, 1953 – January 10, 2024

 

Our dear Mother and Grandmother passed away surrounded by her loving family after kicking cancer’s ass one last time. She was a fighter until her last breath, surviving breast cancer 28 years ago after being given only a few years to live. This second go around started 10 months ago, but boy did she make the most of the short time she had! 

 

She was determined to finish her life on her terms, and only when she had crossed off some of her bucket list items: Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, turning 70 years old, welcoming her first 3 great-grandbabies, and one last Christmas surrounded by her loved ones.

 

She was born to immigrant parents and raised in Salt Lake City, graduating from South High School in 1971. She spent several years of her childhood growing up on a farm in Draper, and considered those the happiest years of her youth. They would shape her love of animals for the rest of her life. She worked hard as a young single mother to provide for her children, and spent most of her career at Utah Power and Light where she made life-long friends. When she retired, she spent it the best way she could, growing her urban farm without a permit and with her family.

Barb left no doubt in the hearts and minds of her family and friends that she loved and cared for them more than anything in this world. To her kids and grandkids, she instilled hope and confidence. Hope that they were here on Earth for a purpose, and confidence that they could accomplish anything they wanted to as long as they worked and surrounded themselves with good people. She taught them to be themselves, self-sufficient, hard-working, brave, courageous, and to not be afraid of what others thought. Boy did she ever prove this time and time again.

Her boisterous cackle laugh in a restaurant or her colorful language while speaking in her crazy voice left all strangers uncomfortable, and all family members crying of laughter. She loved to joke as if she was the ultimate Karen, always asking to “speak to the manager,” with her kids and grandkids eating up every minute of it. 

Even during her last few hours, she had her family laughing as she told some to shut up and let her sleep, and flipping off others to show the nurses that she could understand. But in the end she was full of love and peace, and she died with honor and grace. Attributes she lived and taught by example.

Mom loved her Dutch heritage, as her parents immigrated from the Netherlands shortly before her birth. She visited Holland several times, and her last trip in 2022 was extra special since she was able to show the Ray kids her beloved home country. They loved walking the canal lined streets with her in search for Dutch pancakes, Dutch licorice, or ice cream. She loved the culture, food, and music so much that when the grandkids were younger, she would hold Oma’s Dutch Camp in the summer. She taught them the language, songs, and her favorite Dutch recipes. She cherished these moments with them, and likewise these are memories they will never forget.

Steph, Liz, Mikey, and Haili were the oldest grandkids and lived down the street from Gma when they were little. She took them on lots of adventures, Del Taco, Sandy Movies 9, McDonalds, and multiple stops at the DI - sometimes all in a day. Gma was not only lucky to see all three of her Gonzalez granddaughters marry, but also in 2023 witness the birth of the first baby of each one.

Gma was hoping to visit her missionary, Elder Brandon Gonzalez before she passed, but instead, spent many P-days talking to him over the phone and giving him advice. They made a pact that they would each try their hardest every day and always look for the good.

Since Gma was living with the Gonzo’s for the past 7 months, Mason had the honor and privilege of serving her. He knew that whenever she asked “How much do you love me?” she needed him to do something. Her favorite, and ours, was watching Family Feud and then her being tucked into bed each night by all the family.

The Ray kids affectionately called her Barbara Grandma. She often bought farm animals or bred shelties and asked the grandkids to name them. She even said the animals belonged to the Ray kids, even though the animals always lived with Grandma! Sydney, Taylor and Amelia have countless stories of puppies like Sparky and Bella or goats named Nelly and Cookie. 

Like the Gonzo kids, Barbara Grandma took the Ray kids to the DI followed by McDonalds or Wendys every chance she could. The Ray kids loved it because they knew they would always come home with new toys–which oddly enough many were soon re-donated to the DI when the kids weren’t looking. Sometimes Grandma would find the same items at the DI again and get mad at Ryan. When it wasn’t shopping at the DI, they loved walking the booths with her at Swiss Days in Midway. This was an annual event for all of her children and grandchildren, and Grandma made it especially fun for all of them. Swiss Days will never be the same.

Barbara was an infamous night owl and it served her grandkids well. When Holland and Ethan were born she slept over many nights to care for them throughout the night so Ryan and Rachel could sleep. And she refused to sleep on a bed in the room next to them, instead insisting to sleep on the floor by the babies’ cribs. Even as all the Ray kids grew older, she continued to want to sleep next to them whenever she slept over, even if it meant she was on the floor.

She admired Holland’s inner beauty and kindness, Ethan’s sweetness and lovingness, Taylor’s pure heart and affection, Sydney’s independence and sassiness, which reminded her of herself, and Amelia’s feistiness and love. 

The Soderborg grandkids were her youngest, and she welcomed any opportunity to come over and watch them. She instilled in the Soderborg kids a love of horses, McDonalds, and at-times disturbing movies they’d try out on Netflix that may or may not have led to nightmares.

For the last several months Grandma lived 3 houses down from the Soderborg kids and her favorite part of the day was when they would stop by her window on their way to school and yell “We love you Grandma” and she would point to each one and yell back, “I love you and I love you and I love you!” It was such a highlight of her day.

Noel has her grandma’s ability to solve problems and make friends. Jared has her loving, serving spirit. And Claire… well… Claire has her grandma’s sass and attitude. 

All of these amazing traits and attributes of her grandchildren were inherited from her, and she relished and loved her grandchildren for the unique people they are. She lives through them now.

When she wasn’t with her grandchildren or children, she was with one of her siblings. She loved them and spent several days each week with them. Whether it was eating lunch, going shopping, attending concerts, or simply reminiscing on their remarkable lives, she enjoyed being in their company. 

She has touched the lives of countless people through her community efforts, service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, work at Rocky Mountain Power, Sheltie dog clubs, scouting leadership, and genealogical work.

Did we mention how much she loved her Shelties? She probably raised over 100 pups and spent years traveling to show them in various dog shows.

She is infinitely missed, but she is finally released from the pain of her mortal body and reunited with Pop and mom, whom she loved so dearly.

She is survived by her kids: Ryan (Rachel) Ray, Amber (Leo) Gonzalez, and Erik (Caitlin) Soderborg.

Grandchildren: Holland, Ethan, Sydney, Taylor, and Amelia Ray, Stephanie (Wilson) Sanchez, Elizabeth (Tyler) Wilson, Haili (Sione) Moli, Michael, Brandon, and Mason Gonzalez, and Noel, Jared, and Claire Soderborg.

Great-grandchildren: Bridger and Ruby Wilson, Nella Moli, and Nolan Sanchez.

Siblings: Case (Debra) Van Wyngaarden, Mary (Gary) Worthen, John (Wendy) Van Wyngaarden, and Becky Finlayson.  

A small funeral service will be held for family and friends at Memorial Mountain View Mortuary (3115 Bengal Blvd, Cottonwood Heights, UT 84121) on Wednesday January 17th at 1pm.

In lieu of flowers Barbara has asked for donations to be made to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation https://give.huntsmancancer.org/page/30815/donate/1

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Barbara Van Wyngaarden Ray, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Wednesday, January 17, 2024

12:00 - 12:45 pm (Mountain time)

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Memorial Mountain View Mortuary, Cemetery and Pet Garden

3115 Bengal Blvd
Cottonwood Heights, UT 84121

*Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Mountain time)

Add to Calendar

Memorial Mountain View Mortuary, Cemetery and Pet Garden

3115 Bengal Blvd
Cottonwood Heights, UT 84121

*Standard text messaging rates apply.

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