Zoe Ann Farnsworth, daughter of Harold and Ruth Ann Johnson, was born in Boise, ID on Aug. 24, 1943, and died June 14, 2009 in San Diego, CA due to Cushing’s Disease.

Zoe and her older brother Kay grew up in Boise. But their fondest memories of childhood were in the mountains of northern Idaho picking huckleberries on the shores of Payette Lake.

As a freshman at Boise Jr. College, Zoe met Ken Farnsworth Jr. Their courtship continued even after she transferred to Oregon State and he moved to the University of Utah. Five years later, Ken visited Zoe in San Francisco where she was teaching school and proposed to her at Half Moon Bay.

After their marriage and move to Salt Lake City, UT, three children followed in quick succession: Kenny (Becca), Mike and Michelle (Erik Lehnardt). At this time the young couple began searching for a faith. They were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Dec. 18, 1971. This decision shaped and guided the life of their family for good. A year after they were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple they welcomed another daughter, Ruth Ann (Bill Mitchell). When a neighbor abandoned a foster child, Zoe took him in. Later, Dan was adopted into the family.

Zoe sacrificed her time, her health and many personal pursuits to nurture these five children.

While her husband worked long hours building his business, she sewed magical costumes, supervised chores, fostered a love of reading, limited television and taught her children to cook. Her mothering was infused with humor and she was known to dye the mashed potatoes purple and disguise a turkey neck as the largest sundae to surprise a greedy son.

Zoe passed on her love of gardening to all her children. In every home she lived in, she designed, planted and tended a garden of fruits, vegetables, perennials and roses. Even in her last two years when her health failed her, she planted herbs, strawberries, and calla lilies at her winter home in San Diego.

Cultivating friendships came as naturally to Zoe as growing flowers. She had several “best friends.” Every holiday was marked with thoughtfully chosen gifts for friends and family and she delighted in surprises.

Survived by her 92-year-old ailing mother, Zoe was her caretaker until just weeks before her own death.

From diagnosis to her last breath, Zoe’s husband Ken served her every need.
Though her death came too soon, she was well prepared. She was fully cleansed by the atonement of Jesus Christ. She wrote her testimony in her final days saying, “I know Heavenly Father loves all his children and sees the deep good in all of us.” She also saw the good in everyone and had a great talent for forgiveness. It was a privilege to be with her in her last few weeks.

Her father precedes her in death and she leaves behind nineteen grandchildren who will dearly miss her pig stories. No one can tell a story like Grandma Zoe.

Friends and family are invited to attend a viewing in her honor on Wednesday, June 17th at Larkin Mortuary 1950 E. 10600 S. from 6-8 p.m. Funeral will be held on Thursday, June 18th at 11:00 a.m. at the Pepperwood Chapel 2195 E. Pepperwood Drive.

June 15, 2009
June 19, 2009



  1. Denise

    June 17, 2009

    When I read this in the Deseret News this morning, I was sure you had written it. So hard to summarize such a remarkable person and such a wonderful life. Well done.

  2. jennie w.

    June 17, 2009

    What a lovely obituary. I had no idea her name was Zoe! Spunky name for a spunky lady.

    God be with your family right now.

  3. Blue

    June 17, 2009

    beautiful tribute michelle. i love their wedding picture! that’s one thing that i wish were different about temple sealings. not having photos of that significant moment is kind of a bummer. it was fun to learn about your mom, and see how she has contributed to you being the fantastic YOU that you are! ♥ you!

  4. Kim

    June 17, 2009

    What a lovely tribute to your mother. She sounds like a truly remarkable woman. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time. Take care of yourself.

  5. tjhirst

    June 17, 2009

    Michelle, your words that you continue to write through your pain are healing. May they heal you as well as those who read them.

  6. Tracy

    June 18, 2009

    What a lovely tribute to your mom. I love their wedding photo – and the way your dad is looking at her…just like the way he was looking at her in the picture this June. Thinking about you and your family during this difficult time.
    Much Love, Tracy

  7. ellen

    June 18, 2009

    That is a wonderful obituary and I love her name! The wedding picture is really cool. I hope you feel some peace and comfort.

  8. Azúcar

    June 18, 2009


    Our parents are the same age.

  9. Linn

    June 18, 2009

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing Michelle. Your sweet family continues to be in our prayers.

  10. Mom

    June 19, 2009

    What a beautiful tribute! I am a friend of Andrea’s and have read your blog faithfully for two years now. Your Mom was BEAUTIFUL! I am so sorry for your loss. You are an amazing writer your words are encompassing. I feel I know you. Have a wonderful trip and enjoy a little piece and quite.

  11. Mom

    June 19, 2009

    Sorry…I am visiting my parents and I was under my mom’s name.


  12. Deal

    July 7, 2009

    What a beautiful tribute to your mother. Everything you said of her is what I remember of her. She had such a big heart and was so generous. I regret that we did not have more time as children (my sisters and I) to get to know her and all of you better. But the times we had to be with her were always positive and uplifting. What an incredible woman! What a wonderful example she was.

  13. Deal

    July 7, 2009

    Sorry… this is cousin Dianna.

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