Friday, July 15, 2011

John Clifford Hepworth


John C. Hepworth completed his life journey on July 10, 2011, at home while holding his wife's hand. He passed away peacefully from complications due to Parkinson's disease.

John was born June 18, 1927, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Charles and Mabel Hepworth, joining his three brothers, Charlie, Ralph and Merlie, and his sister, Yvonne. His mother passed away when he was 5 years old and John was raised by his father and siblings in Albion, Idaho. His father was a butcher and had a small meat market in Albion.

John grew up and attended school in Albion. During his youth, John enjoyed and excelled in all sports. He had a particular fondness for basketball and enjoyed a lot of success as a high school basketball player and even played one year of college ball at Idaho State. His stardom in basketball resulted in several articles written of him in the newspapers.

John, with the help of his three brothers, made the Hepworth name famous in sports. John graduated from Albion High School in 1945. After graduation from high school, John enlisted in the Navy where he served until the end of the war in 1946. He was stationed on the USS Attu. After the war, John attended Idaho State University from 1946 until 1948. He also attended the University of Utah, where he received his law degree, from 1948 until 1952.

John married his high school sweetheart, Donna James, on Feb. 11, 1947. John and Donna had four children: Tanya, Janet, Charlie and Jeff. The Hepworth family lived in Buhl, Idaho, from 1952 until 1978. Sadly, Donna Hepworth passed away in 1972.

In 1977, John married his wife, Bonita. John and Bonita moved from Buhl to Twin Falls in 1978 and they continued to reside in Twin Falls until the present. One of the great joys in John's life during the time he lived in Twin Falls was his relationship with Bonita's son, Bradley. Bradley was born with special needs and he lived with John and Bonita until his death in 2009. Bradley was a very happy and loving person and he was a source of great love and joy in John's life.

John was always active in his children's lives and tried to attend every activity. He helped coach Little League. His children were a very important part of his life. Watching his children and grandchildren succeed and chatting with his sister, Yvonne, on the phone were highlights for John. He was a devoted husband and father and his legacy will live on in his children and grandchildren.

John was well known for his many accomplishments as a trial lawyer. He opened his own private law practice in Buhl in 1952. He was joined by Bill Nungester in 1960 and by Mike Felton in 1965. Later, Brent Martens joined the firm in Buhl.

In the 60s and 70s, the law firm of Hepworth, Nungester and Felton developed a strong reputation in the Magic Valley and throughout the state of Idaho.

John, in particular, proved to be very skillful in the courtroom as an ardent advocate for his clients. Throughout the 60s and 70s, John tried many jury trials to successful verdicts and, in a few cases, set records for the largest verdicts in the state for the types of cases he handled.

During the 80s and 90s, the Hepworth law firm continued to grow and thrive. Lawyers such as John Hohnhorst and John Lezamiz joined the practice and proved to be very capable trial lawyers themselves. Additionally, partners Jeff Rolig and Penelope Parker joined the firm in Twin Falls. The one constant throughout the life of the law firm was the skill and leadership that John provided. He was hard-working, smart and fiercely competitive; all attributes that served his varied clients well until he retired from the firm and the practice of law at the age of 75.

John was a civil trial lawyer and the courtroom was his stage. He was a lawyer's lawyer and was liked and respected by his colleagues. Many of his courtroom adversaries were his closest friends, which was a reflection of his professionalism.

He had a long and distinguished career as a trial lawyer. He was listed in "The Best 100 Lawyers in America" in several editions. John was a member of the Idaho State Bar from which he received the highest attorney accolade of "Distinguished Lawyer." He was a member of the American Bar Association.

He was one of the founding members of the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association, was a national board member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and was a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an invitation-only group limited to fewer than 1 percent of the nation's trial lawyers.

He served as president of the Fifth Judicial District Bar Association, served on the State Redistricting Committee, and was nominated by the Idaho Statesman as a "Distinguished Citizen." John was asked as the only Idaho lawyer to join the Inner Circle of Advocates, a distinguished group of 100 of the best trial attorneys in the United States. John was also a frequent speaker on trial advocacy throughout the country.

John enjoyed great success as a businessman as well. In the mid 1960s, he worked with his good friend Ted Eastman to start a commercial trout company called Clear Springs Trout Company. With a lot of hard work and persistence, Clear Springs grew from a fledgling trout company to becoming the world's largest privately owned commercial trout company. John was chairman of the board for the company for many years. He was very proud of his role in helping to form and grow the company. Today Clear Springs Foods continues to thrive and is one of the largest employers in the Magic Valley.

John was also very involved in the creation of the College of Southern Idaho. In fact, when CSI was just getting started as an educational institution, it was located in Buhl. In time, it relocated to Twin Falls where it is located today. John served on the board of directors for CSI for many years. John also took an active role in helping to form the Foundation for the College of Southern Idaho. John and Bonita were always active supporters for the College, taking great pride in the many ways that CSI benefits the local community.

John was a gentleman and treated everyone with respect. He loved to visit with people and never knew a stranger and was always ready with a handshake. He loved the law, his wife and family; his dogs, Princess and Duchess; and any sport in which a ball was used!

He enjoyed playing golf, but mostly enjoyed playing tennis with his buddy Bob Seibel. He and Bonita loved to travel and did so extensively, creating many good friends and memories. Going to Normandy Beach was a particularly memorable trip, but traveling to Italy was also a favorite.

John was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church. He was also a member at the Blue Lakes Country Club. He loved traveling to Salt Lake to watch the Utah Jazz play—especially seeing Michael Jordan!

John was a devoted husband and Bonita meant the world to him. He knew he was very lucky to have her especially these last few years. John loved their home and was very comfortable there.

John is survived by his wife, Bonita, of 34 years; his children, Tanya (Craig) Storti of Boise, Janet (Lynn) Askew of Hailey, Charlie (Margaret) Hepworth of Boise, and Jeff (Leslie) Hepworth of Twin Falls; stepson Rod Mason of Twin Falls; 11 grandchildren: Tyler, Jack, and Jeff Storti, Charlie and Paige Askew, Haley, Matt, Mark and Grace Hepworth; Grady and Lexi Hepworth, and Eric Mason; his sister, Yvonne Chatburn of Spokane; sisters-in-law, Helen Meyer and Loretta O'Connell; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He is also survived by his mother's youngest sister, Harriet Carniato, who is 106 years old and still going strong.

Those passing on before him were his wife, Donna; his parents; brothers Charlie (USAF), Ralph (NAC) and Merlie (USN); brother-in-law Joe Chatburn; and "his boy" Bradley.

He lost the battle he has been fighting valiantly for a few years. He may not have immediately recalled your name, but that does not diminish how he felt about his friends.

We want to thank his caregivers, Lavenna, Patty, Rod, Ashley, Socorro and Cody for being so very loyal to both of us. Thanks for the love and support of our friends through these challenging times. Our sincere appreciation also to Hospice Visions for the dignity and care and love given to John, to Pastor Vedder for the visits and prayers over the last few years, and to Pastor Sedlmayer for his constant vigil, prayers and songs he sang to John.

In celebration of John's life, it is suggested that memorials be made to the Southern Idaho Learning Center, Immanuel Lutheran Church, or to the College of Southern Idaho Nursing Program in John's name.

Funeral services for John will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 16, 2011 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 2055 Filer Ave. E., Twin Falls.

Visitation will be held before the services from 10:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. in the Fireside Room at Immanuel Lutheran Church. A celebration of John's life will be held immediately after the funeral ceremony at the Turf Club located at 734 Falls Avenue in Twin Falls.

There will be a graveside service on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at the West End Cemetery in Buhl. Services have been entrusted to Reynolds Funeral Chapel, Twin Falls, Idaho.

Condolences may be left for the family by visiting www.reynoldschapel.com




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