Billie Jean Topolovec-Shaver, loving wife, mother and grandmother, was born on March 27, 1942 in Price Utah, to Henry John Topolovec and Ruth Esther Temple-Topolovec.
‘Jean’ spent her early years in Price where she was involved in the operation of the Harris Style Shop, a family business owned by her grandmother (Dora Birch Temple-Harris) and her mother. As a teen, taking piano lessons, the Rohm Family (Price, Utah) introduced her to Jesus. From that time forward she never forgot the meaning to life, and despite life’s difficulties, maintained her walk with the Lord. She was forever an eternal extrovert, who loved the Lord…and horses. She was quite a conversationalist, and could cajole anyone into talking. She enjoyed the holidays and would lavish gifts, both sensible and whimsical, to anyone regardless of those attending family gatherings (The ‘perpetual closet of re-gifts’ made this all possible). As an educator/counselor she put in countless hours perfecting, preparing, and exercising her creativity into her curriculum to better the lives of her students. At Sabbath School she was eager to share her insights, and wisdom, by relating to the Bible lessons personally. Jean especially enjoyed filling in at the worship service, even at the last minute, to present the children’s story based on her own life lessons – The time she broke her arm trying to grab a limb to disembark the families work horse, or the accidental destruction of the family carving knife in weeding dandelions. She was a dedicated daughter, and could easily outwork her teenage kids to shame in scraping, prepping, and painting the exterior of the family store. Her ability to improvise was amazing, and sometimes questionable like the time she invited the pastor’s family over and had nothing ‘healthy’ for dinner. To remedy this conundrum, she whipped up some batter, and vegetables, to create waffles embedded with kernels of canned corn – this was well received by the guests but left edibility scars on those that had no inclination to eat ‘healthy’. She loved everything about horse – training, feeding, brushing, petting, ridding and anything that had to do with horses – including horse printed clothing. As she struggled with her Alzheimer’s, a quick dose of ‘horse time’, or talking about Jesus, would ground her back to reality and untangle the cobwebs of her emotions, thoughts, and past. Unable to discard numerous personal effects, based on her fond associations – and the love she had for friends/family, she stockpiled large amounts of books, puzzles, games, puppets, audio/video tapes, pictures, and miscellaneous family momentous (Not to mention scores of boxes holding the works of her children, and her own mementos, from birth to college). We think that she was hoping that, while she got the sleep that she had been robbed of by her mischievous kids, her family would have some ‘entertainment’ wading through the life time accumulation of accoutrements as they waited to also be reunited upon Christs return. Buy the way, we probable have some plastic flowers, and countless other decorations, for everyone.
Jean graduated with honors from Carbon High School, and attended the College of Eastern Utah for an AA degree. She had a scholarship to Loma Linda University, as she was wanting a medical degree, she fell in love and married Frank Blackham (Kenilworth). With a BA in Education (University of Utah) she taught elementary students in the Salt Lake City area. Around the same time, Jean went with Frank to Ireland, where he was to work on mineral exploration for his employer. When they returned back home to Utah, they eventually upgraded the mobile home for house in West Jordan. Given the concerns she had for her aging father Henry, she welcomed him into the home, and during the summer she was a part time student working on a MA in Early Childhood Development (Utah State University). Taking up employment in Roosevelt Utah, she spent several years teaching in the Head Start program and the local elementary school. With the loss of her grandmother (Dora) in 1980, and the declining age of her mother (Ruth), she moved closer to home to help. While working full time as an elementary teacher at Huntington Elementary (Emery County), raising her boys, caring for her horses, along with helping her mother run the family women’s clothing business. After her children were on their own, she completed her MA in Counseling (Andrews University, Michigan) and was counseling elementary students in Wendover Nevada. Jean would still go home on weekends to help her mother around the house and family business while squeezing in time to go ride horses whenever she could. When her mother passed (1997), she eventually decided to sell the family business and relocate to Pocatello, Idaho to be a school there. Jeans Faith, and trust in God, kept her strong through her fight with breast cancer, and she quickly went back to work to help the school children she cared about. A few years later, she met and fell in love with Pastor George Shaver. Together, they enjoyed serving on church missions to South Korea, and in four different continents, where they provided compassionate care to multiple, and diverse, congregations. They settled into a pastoral ship in South Dakota, starting with Arlington, and finally the Aberdeen area. Even though she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, in 2015, she continued to work side by side with her husband, using their combined talents to counsel, train, teach, and provide music, in their work for the Seventh Day Adventist Church. On July 24, 2020 in Aberdeen, SD, while under hospice care, she peacefully went to sleep, to wait for the Advent of Jesus.
Jean was a woman of many talents – she won national awards as a seamstress, and was a member of multiple affiliations; Jobs Daughter, civil air patrol, rotary club, American Association of Christian Counselors, Equine assisted psychotherapy/development program (EAGLA), Association of play therapists, American Legion, and a dedicated member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
She is survived by her husband George, her two sons by her first marriage to Frank Blackham – Calvin (Jennifer) Blackham (Washington), and John (Nellie) Blackham (Utah). Jean is also survived by her stepson John (Jessica) Shaver (Nebraska), and stepdaughter Georgia Leigh-Baggett (Andrew) of Washington. She was dearly loved and will be deeply missed by her family, and all her friends in the United States and around the world.
To celebrate Jean’s life, a graveside service will take place on Saturday August 15th, 10:00 AM (Price City Cemetery, 595 East 400 North, Price, Utah) under the direction of her husband Pastor George Shaver. For both services, pandemic precautions are requested.