Samuel Martin Okelberry, 77, of Pocatello, ID, passed away peacefully in his home on August 9, 2021.
He was born in Oakley, Idaho on December 5, 1943. Sam earned a degree in Civil Technology from what is now known as the Idaho State University College of Technology. He married Mary Frances Merkley on April 10, 1970.
Sam was raised with his parents’ and Swedish immigrant grandparents’ value of hard work and Christian faith as he grew up on the rural land they settled in southern Idaho. The fields and landscape were noticeably similar to the family’s land in Sweden, which they left in the late 1800s in order to protect and continue in their membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Sam was known throughout his life for diligence and conviction that carried on their legacy.
After spending his freshman year at Snow College on a football scholarship, Sam eventually pursued a technical program at Idaho State. He graduated with perfect grades and the highest accolades of his class. Over the course of his lifetime, he worked as a workhand, firefighter, land surveyor, and draftsman. He enjoyed hobbies in geology, chemistry, computer science, and scripture study. Sam exemplified lifelong learning and exploration. Whether at school, work, or play, he was an untiring perfectionist -- strong and precise.
Sam was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, archery, marksmanship, and camping. He was especially good at orienteering and mentored Boy Scouts toward their Orienteering merit badges. He volunteered in the Boy Scouts of America program for several years and served as an Advancement Chairman. Many young men can credit “Brother Okelberry’s” persistence for their progression to the Eagle Scout Rank, whether they wanted that rank, or not.
Sam and his wife Mary celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary earlier this year. Sam was an ever-faithful husband. He loved Mary since their first meeting, when he copied her phone number off a credit card slip to call her for a date. They were married in the Logan Utah Temple and exceptionally resolute in their commitment to one another.
Sam loved his family. He enjoyed following his sons in their football and wrestling tournaments. He appreciated classical music and enjoyed attending his daughters’ musical performances. He loved holding his grandbabies. He always looked forward to spending time with his siblings and their children.
Above all, Sam loved the Lord. In 1968 he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Southwest British Mission along the southwestern coast of England and down into the Channel Islands. He was known as an exceptional missionary, and the experience came to define his faith and his place in the Lord’s work. Sam continued his relationships with his British brothers and sisters while serving devotedly in local missionary and home-teaching callings throughout the end of his life.
Sam was preceded in death by his parents David and Florence Okelberry and his siblings Doris Stanger, Delmer Okelberry, Velma Griffith, Rose Krieger, Vern Okelberry, and Lanny Okelberry.
He is survived by his wife Mary Okelberry; his children Michelle (Michael) Cutler of Las Vegas, NV; Annette (Eric) Christensen of Las Vegas, NV; Martin (Christy) Okelberry of Rigby, ID; Matthew (Ellen) Okelberry of Rigby, ID; his grandchildren Michael, Alexander, Brody (Sierra), Cormick, Lucille, Conner, Amelia, Brooklyn, Ainzley, and Kaylee; his brothers- and sisters-in-law; dear nephews and nieces, and other relatives; and friends that are considered relatives.
Services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Portneuf Chapel, 8200 W Portneuf Rd, Pocatello, ID at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 19, 2021. Burial will follow immediately at Mountain View Cemetery, 1520 S 5th Avenue, Pocatello, ID. A visitation will be held from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. prior to services. Arrangements directed by Cornelison Funeral Home, www.cornelisonfh.com
The Okelberry family wishes to express gratitude for the immeasurable kindness and support that family, friends, hospice workers, and community members have shown toward Sam and Mary over the time leading up to his passing. Such a matchless display of love will never be forgotten.
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