Cover photo for Alta Palmer Woolley's Obituary
Alta Palmer Woolley Profile Photo
1919 Alta 2021

Alta Palmer Woolley

August 13, 1919 — July 1, 2021

Alta Palmer Durrant (Woolley) was born in Winder, Idaho on August 13, 1919 to Thomas Condie Palmer and Alta Maughan Palmer. She grew up in Winder where her father had a dry farm and a herd of dairy cows. Alta was the fifth of eight children: Shirley, Margaret Hobbs, W. Dean, J. Leo, Della Buttars, Beulah Perry and Quinton T. Palmer. On the farm she learned to work hard and help take care of her younger siblings. She graduated from Preston High School and attended Ricks College and Utah State where she majored in education.

Alta became acquainted with Charles Cecil Durrant in Preston and following his return from the Eastern States Mission they married on January 3, 1939 in the Logan LDS Temple. They had six children: Alta Anne (Don) Sullivan, Thomas Cecil (Bonnie), Gordon Lee (DeAnn and later Colleen), Marlene (Rod) Jenks (and later Harold Luker), Shirley Dean (Darlene) and Larry Brent (Lezlie). Alta has 32 grandchildren, 63 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren.

Alta and Cecil lived in Bozeman, Tremonton and Idaho Falls in their early years while he drove trucks for her brother Shirley. They finally settled in Jerome where Cecil owned several milk routes transporting milk to the local creamery. Alta was a very gifted pianist and organizer and in Jerome her talents were put to good use. She was a deeply committed member of the LDS church and served as the Gooding Stake Primary President for 13 years. The stake was spread out over a lot of country and many miles were put on the family car to take care of all the primary programs in the stake.

As a pianist, Alta played in a local dance band and later the stake orchestra which provided the music for all of the stake dances. Anne and Tom later participated in the orchestra as well. She also served through these years as the ward and stake organist and whenever an accompanist was needed she gladly filled in. She was honored once to play for Jesse Evans Smith and her husband Joseph Fielding Smith when they visited the Gooding Stake. She was an excellent organist and sour notes and mistakes were never heard due to the countless hours of practice that she put in. She was always giving piano lessons to the local children and loved teaching the primary children new songs. Alta served as the ward organist until age 99 and also played for a senior citizen singing group, The Silver Chords at the Pocatello Senior Center until about the same time.

After her children were enrolled in school, Alta began again to complete her education. She became involved with teaching several handicapped and downs syndrome children and the local school administrators acknowledged her gift of helping these children and allowed her to teach while completing her degree. For several years she would come home from school, fix the family dinner and drive to Twin Falls for night classes that were needed for her degree. During the summers she would travel to Pocatello and take more classes in the summer school sessions. In 1969 she walked down the aisle at the Idaho State University Commencement and received her degree. Two years before she retired, the Pocatello School District honored Alta with the Teacher Of The Year award after many of her colleagues lobbied for her to receive it.

After 25 years in Jerome, Cecil took advantage of an opportunity to drive for Garrett Freight Lines in Pocatello. Alta secured another job teaching special needs children as before and continued looking after her family and other responsibilities. Trips to check in on her mom and siblings were always a regular occurrence. There was always time to do fun things and see beautiful sights. The annual trip to the family's favorite spot, Alturas Lake with 6 other local families made for wonderful memories of boating, fishing, hiking and horseshoe games.

After 7 years in Pocatello, Cecil's health gave out and he passed away. Alta kept teaching and playing for church and when Larry was finished with his mission in the Netherlands, Alta was excited to join him in Holland for 2 weeks where she saw all the wonderful things and people in Holland, England and Paris.

Several years later after retiring, Alta went on a mission to San Diego, California where she worked among the Laotian people there. Then in 1991 Alta married Jay Tilby and moved to Burley. They traveled a great deal from Texas to Alaska and worked for 5 years in the Boise Temple before Jay passed away.

At 89, Alta married again to Russell Woolley, a retired Jerome farmer who she was acquainted with from earlier in her life. She cared for Russell until he passed away several years later. Alta then returned to Pocatello and continued on with her family, music, church lessons and DUP meetings until she could no longer live at home.

In her long and extraordinary life, Alta was a kind and loving friend and faithful to her beliefs. She has lived to serve others. She has witnessed the passing of 3 husbands, 6 of 7 siblings, 4 of 6 children and 3 grandchildren. She is survived by her brother, Quinton Palmer, her sons Thomas and Larry and many grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren. She has in the past 2 years survived a broken hip, several falls, Covid-19, and the loneliness of being unable to be with her family, as well as being almost totally deaf. Through it all she has maintained a cheerful attitude.

Alta passed away peacefully on July 1, 2021, one month before her 102nd birthday. Our family wishes to thank the remarkable care givers at Morning Star Retirement Center and Aspen Home Health and Hospice for their assistance and genuine care. We also express our gratitude to Bishop Ray Griffen and the members of the Gwen Ward who cared for and loved Alta for so much of her life. We also thank Wilks Funeral Home for their caring service.

There will be a viewing on Friday, July 9, 2021 from 9:30AM to 10:45AM followed by the funeral services at 11AM at the LDS Gwen Ward building at 1433 Gwen Drive in Pocatello, Idaho. Interment will be at Mountain View Cemetery in Pocatello.

Memories and condolences may be shared with the family under the "Tribute Wall" tab above.

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, July 9, 2021

Starts at 9:30 am (Mountain time)

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Funeral Ceremony

Friday, July 9, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)

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Graveside Service

Friday, July 9, 2021

Starts at 12:30 pm (Mountain time)

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