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Read obituaries on two men from polygamous groups

Published July 25, 2013 7:36 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

One man from the Kingston group and one from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have their obituaries in today's newspaper, though in only one case can you tell the deceased's affiliation.

Let's start with that one. Robert Louis Steed's obituary announces: "He was a devout member of the FLDS Church and was always loyal to his prophet and his God."

Steed died at age 50. The obituary goes on to discuss Steed's work in the trucking business. His survivors are listed as his wives, Gayle Darger and Shirley Darger, and 15 children.

The other obituary doesn't mention any affiliation, but Wendell Owen, who died at age 90, was an integral part of the Kingston group, also known as the Davis County Cooperative.

Owen is still listed as a director on the Cooperative's corporate paperwork, and for many years he managed the coal mine the Cooperative operated in Emery County. The mine was known over the years as the Bear Canyon Mine and the Co-op Mine.

Neither the obituary for Owen in The Tribune or this one on a mortuary website lists Owen's survivors. Representatives of the Kingstons did not return my messages on Tuesday.

One tribute to Owen came from Vicki Darger on her family's blog. Vicki Darger, who I don't believe is related to the aforementioned Dargers and does not belong to the FLDS or Kingston group, said she got to know some of Owen's wives and children. She even helped put on a talent show with some of them.

"I don't know how big Wendell's family is," Vicki Darger wrote, "but I know he impacted a lot of people. He was a kind and gentle man. So many stereotypes of men in polygamy revolve around controlling, self-serving egomaniac men, but like so many men I have known that live this way, Wendell was a humble man dedicated to service of his family and others."

— Nate Carlisle

Twitter: @tribunepolygamy