Our cherished mom, wife, and grandma returned peacefully to her Heavenly Father on Saturday, May 30, 2020, surrounded by her loving and devoted family, after a determined battle with cancer.
Sharel was born in Cardston, Alberta, Canada on February 12, 1954. She was the fourth of five children born to Chase and Roumelia Smith and grew up in the small farming community of Hartleyville. Growing up on the farm, she learned the value of hard work at an early age. She also gained an appreciation for her Canadian heritage and was proud to be a Canuck.
Sharel was a lifelong learner and deeply valued education. After graduating from Cardston High School in 1971, she left Canada to attend BYU in Provo, Utah. There, she met Fay Reber, and they were later married in the Cardston, Alberta Temple in 1974. After graduating summa cum laude from BYU with a B.S. in Social Work in 1975, she and Fay were accepted to J. Reuben Clark School of Law, which they attended together until Sharel gave birth to their first daughter, Allison.
In 1979, a second daughter, Erica, was born, and the family moved to St. George Utah, where Fay joined a local law firm. The family was joined by a third daughter, Kristen, in 1982. Sharel loved being a stay-at-home mom, sewing Christmas dresses for her girls, baking treats, working on countless school projects, and helping with classroom parties and other activities. She was also active in community affairs and helped organize the St. George Arts Festival.
After a divorce in 1994, Sharel returned to Provo to finish her law degree, graduating cum laude in 1997 with a Juris Doctorate degree. Upon admission to the Utah State Bar Association, Sharel joined the Utah Attorney General’s Office where she worked as an Assistant Attorney General for twenty years, retiring as State Agency Council for the Office and Department of Corrections in 2016. Her work as an attorney in the criminal justice system enabled her to seek justice and protection for the most vulnerable members of society, especially children. She was recognized as Attorney of the Year in 2015 and was known as a mentor to those in her workplace, both professionally and personally.
Sharel had unwavering faith and was a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where she served in various capacities including Relief Society President, Young Women’s President and Gospel Doctrine teacher. She especially loved working with the youth, touching many lives with her kindness and tolerance and always reaching out to anyone in need.
In 2006, Sharel married Van Johnson in the Bountiful Temple. They established a home in Sandy and then later resettled in Murray in 2013. Van’s passion for travel rubbed off on Sharel, and they traveled the world together, including one memorable trip to Germany where Sharel took full advantage of no speed limit on the autobahn.
She also kept an impeccable home and had a knack for décor and design. Shopping was her “sport” and she knew the aisles of TJ Maxx like the back of her hand. Decorating for holidays was a favorite pastime. Her grandkids gleefully counted the many Santa Claus’s, nativities, pilgrims, and witches that adorned her home during various holidays. Christmas was mom’s favorite holiday.
Sharel adored her grandchildren and doted on them endlessly. She also embraced her daughters’ husbands and loved them like her own sons. She was always supportive and welcoming to extended family. She showed her love through cooking and baking. It was her way to bring people together. She made countless Sunday dinners for family, friends, and neighbors, and she was always testing new recipes on family and friends alike.
Sharel was diagnosed with stage 4 bladder cancer in 2010 and showed endless bravery, courage and grace in the face of adversity. She refused to give in to her disease and with grit, tenacity and determination, underwent numerous surgeries plus many rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. And, as a result, she brought to her family countless hours of happiness and joy that they would not have otherwise had.
Most of all, Sharel loved her children fiercely. She was their biggest cheerleader, most treasured friend, and their role model. She taught by example the meaning of sacrifice, leadership, integrity and achievement. She told her girls that they could do or be anything they wanted, and then she showed them how to do it. Words cannot express how much she’ll be missed.
Mom, we “love you to the moon and back.”
Sharel leaves behind her husband Van Johnson; daughters Allison (Jesse) Steele, Erica (Jeremy) Richards, Kristen (Jason) Romero; brothers Victor (Sharon) Smith, Art Smith, and Richard (Sherry) Smith and cherished grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her sister Connie Nuttall, mother Roumelia Smith, father Chase Smith and granddaughters Marley and Macey Richards.
Our family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Huntsman Cancer Center and their team of care providers, including Dr. Tward, Dr. Gupta, and Dr. Hardman. The tender kindness extended to Sharel and her family by nurses Brittany, Bre, Alexis, Kat, and others from Hunstman at Home and Hospice services will not be forgotten.
Friends are invited to visit with her family on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City. To ensure compliance with current social distancing guidelines, we kindly ask that you call the funeral parlor at (801) 474-9119 to make a reservation for the time that you wish to attend (masks are encouraged). She will be laid to rest in a private family ceremony at Memorial Holladay Cemetery.