Like rolling thunder fading into the vastness of heaven, our devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, dear son and brother, kind uncle, cousin, and friend — undaunted patriot and stalwart defender of the United States — passed peacefully from this life on Thursday, March 30th, at 8:41 PM.
We have been blessed by his immensely positive attitude and robust approach to life. He was an unstoppable force for good, fearless in any situation, with an iron will and a heart of gold. We will miss his contagious optimism, hearty laugh, and ready wit as well as his selfless service to others and his powerful example of unfailing faith in God.
Stan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday, June 20, 1959, the first child of Stanford Grant Ellsworth and Judith Ann Malzahn. During his childhood, his family lived all over the United States: Salt Lake City, Utah; Seattle, Washington; Mountain View, California; Gloversville and Grand Island, New York; Portland, Oregon; Annandale, Virginia; Annapolis, Maryland; and East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He was an avid football player throughout his youth and played on his high school football team. During this time, he also discovered a love of history. Both of these interests would play an enormous role in the rest of his life.
He attended Brigham Young University, where he received a BA in History, and was part of the BYU football team. Stan also served as a missionary in the France Toulouse Mission under President Max Wheelwright and maintained his appreciation and love for the language and culture ever after. He was a lifelong, active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and enjoyed many callings and service opportunities, his favorite being that of Primary Teacher. To this day, many of his former students recall his genuine love for them, captivating teaching style, and enthusiasm for the Gospel.
Stan’s love of football directly influenced many years of his professional life. He enjoyed watching football no matter which teams were playing but was a particularly die-hard fan of the Utah Utes (or the “GoUtes,” as his grandson called them), the Baltimore Ravens, the Minnesota Vikings (he actually looks like their logo), and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He held several coaching positions over twenty years at various schools: Arizona Western College, East Stroudsburg University, Shippensburg University, the University of Utah, Highland High School (where he also taught history), and Corner Canyon High School. Stan was also briefly a team member of both the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions.
Stan later changed his focus to acting, appearing in several family films, including The Luck of the Irish, High School Musical 3, and Dadnapped. He was also the colorful spokesman for the popular video game Monster Hunter. And, as the face of Comcast, many Utahns will remember him telling us that “the dish is comin’ down!” But Stan found his true vocation as America’s History Teacher — the Harley-riding host of the wildly popular documentary series American Ride on BYUtv, for which he won six Emmy awards. Each week for 13 seasons, Stan would invite his viewers on a road trip through the history of his beloved homeland: “So kick a leg over… Let’s take a ride!”
People often asked Stan which of all the places he had been was his favorite. His quick reply was always “Home.” Above all, his greatest love was his family. Stan always felt himself a Viking misplaced in time and was overjoyed to find his beautiful princess, Stacey Knudsen, the love of his life and balm of his heart, whom he married on September 14, 2005. Together, Stan and Stacey have a blended family of six children, whom they love more than life: Tyson Yates (Jordan), Tristan Ellsworth (Tasia), Jordan Yates (1990-2008), Kirsten Ellsworth, Mariah Yates Bowman (Jake), and Tanner Yates (Allison). He is survived by his brothers, Scott Ellsworth (Laura) and Gregg Ellsworth (Liesl); several grandchildren (Lisa, Jarren, Sage, Oliver, Charlee, Liam, Scarlett, and another due in October!); and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Linda Ellsworth Byington (Ken); and his first wife, Lisa Marie Heesch.
Stan was undoubtedly greeted by many loved ones delighted to see him again as he “crossed over the river to rest under the shade of the trees on the other side.”
A viewing will be held at the Mountain Point 12th Ward chapel at 607 E. Rocky Mouth Lane in Draper, Utah from 6:00 to 8:00 PM on Friday, April 14th and again on Saturday, April 15th from 10:30 to 11:30 AM. The funeral service will be held at the same location at 12:00 Noon on Saturday, April 15th. Interment to follow at Larkin Sunset Gardens in Sandy, Utah.
We would like to thank the staff of Pointe Meadows Health and Rehabilitation, Valeo Home Health and Hospice, and Frank Coon/Independent Funeral Service for their tender care and compassion during this most difficult time.
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