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Alumni Happenings - March 2006
Grand County High School




Neal and Wynona Dalton, GCHS Alumni

by Jeff Richards

 

They may have graduated from Grand County High more than 50 years ago, but Neal and Wynona Dalton have been actively involved in rooting for the Red Devils ever since.

Childhood friends Neal (Class of 1953) and Wynona (Class of 1954) knew each other all the way through grade school. Both enjoyed riding horses and playing outdoors. “I think it was when I was in 7th grade that we finally got to hold hands,” recalls Wynona. Her family, the Holyoaks, were one of the earliest families to settle in Moab. The home where she grew up is on the same property as where she and Neal have lived for the past 52 years since getting married shortly after her graduation in 1954.

Neal, who also boasts pioneer roots, played various sports in high school, lettering all four years. He played football, basketball, tennis, and track and was named an all-state player of the year by the Deseret News. He was recruited by several colleges that wanted him to play football, but after his graduation in 1953, he decided to stay in town for a year while he waited to marry Wynona, whose father had told her she had to wait until after graduation to get married. On May 24, 1954, just a couple of weeks after Wynona’s 18th birthday and high school graduation, they were married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple.

Although Neal was still being sought by colleges, he was persuaded to stay in Moab and work by one of his bosses. “We built our house on this property, and we’ve been here ever since,” he notes.

The Daltons have always had strong ties to GCHS. Neal’s older siblings all attended there, and he even played sports with his older brother and a nephew. “We would have all these Daltons on the team at the same time,” recalls Neal, adding: “One time the other coach kept hearing that Dalton made the tackle and Dalton made the tackle, but what he didn’t realize is that we were all different players.” Another of his older brothers, “Legs” Dalton, just recently had his long-standing state record in the high jump broken.

Wynona’s two younger sisters (Roberta Knutson and Cheryl Nyland) also graduated from GCHS and still reside in Moab to this day.

Back in those days, grades K-12 all attended school in the same building, which is the building on Center Street that currently houses the Moab City offices.

Neal and Wynona have two children, both of whom currently work at GCHS. Their son Kent Dalton (Class of 1973), a contractor, teaches the construction class, while daughter Carolyn Noyes (Class of 1976) works in the school’s special education department. Nearly two decades ago, Carolyn served as the head volleyball coach, and coached the Lady Devils to their first (and only) 2A state volleyball championship in 1987.

The Daltons also have seven grandchildren, plus two more who died in infancy. All seven grandkids are GCHS alumni, including youngest grandson Andrew Dalton, who graduated just last year. All of the grandkids were heavily involved in sports and other activities. Granddaughter Stephanie Shepherd is currently an assistant adviser to the CGHS Devilettes drill team.

“We’ve always enjoyed going to school sports and events,” says Wynona. “It didn’t really matter if our own kids or grandkids were playing or not. We’d go to all the home games and even some of the away games.” Their favorite sports to watch are football, basketball, and baseball, but they enjoy track, wrestling, and volleyball as well.

Wynona is also fond of music, and played the violin in the orchestra during high school. She also served as the baton twirler in the school’s marching band, while percussionist Neal played the cymbals.

Both have been involved in various community activities over the years, including 4H Clubs and church events. One time, a church ball team that Neal was coaching was invited to play in a tournament in Denver. Neal ended up having to work and being unable to make the trip, so “Mrs. Coach” Wynona filled in, coaching the team to two close wins (including a double-overtime nailbiter) before finally losing the third game. “It was a lot of fun coaching those kids,” recalls Wynona. “The only thing I couldn’t do was go in the locker room.”

Over the years, the Daltons have kept busy in a variety of jobs. Neal’s extensive resume includes stints in construction, drilling, the Atlas uranium processing plant, plus over 30 years as a purchasing agent at the Texas Gulf facility in Potash (known as Moab Salt). Back in the 1950s, they were also both involved in various film productions that came to town. “My sister Roberta and I were in the very first film made in Moab, which was Wagon Master,” recalls Wynona. They and a few other young extras were actually housed and schooled on-site at the production for about a month while the filming took place, she adds. Neal remembers riding with the cavalry in one film production and having to lie on the ground pretending to be dead. “I was just lying there with a big grin on my face and the director saw me and yelled, ‘CUT!’” he recalls.

The Daltons have seven great-grandchildren, all of whom still live in Moab (one other one died as a baby). Neal and Wynona can often be seen picking up their great-grandkids from school in their Suburban and chauffeuring them around to where they need to go, from dance lessons to sports and other activities. The Daltons also enjoy spending time outdoors with family members.

One major change looming for the Daltons is their impending move to a new house that their son Kent has been building for them in Spanish Valley. After more than five decades living in the same place, they both have mixed feelings about leaving their old home. “But we’ll still be here in Moab, surrounded by family and friends,” notes Wynona. “At our class reunion, I got a trophy for being the closest to Moab since graduation, because we never left – we’ve always been right here.”

 
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