Edwin's Promise

Edwin’s Promise

Edwin’s Promise is a new video promoting what we have been calling the Edwin Westover Family Project.

When discussing this idea with some cousins several years ago it seemed then – and now, frankly – an impossible task. The work of family history is the gathering of information of our ancestors who have passed on.

But in the case of Edwin Westover, my fourth great-grandfather who lived from 1824-1878, he was given a promise. He was told of a future gathering in which both his ancestors and posterity would attend.

In discussing this with cousins we mused what it would be like to gather the living descendants of Edwin Westover. How many could there be? What are their stories? How have we all added to the legacy of Edwin Westover in 200 years?

As I set out again for Rootstech this year I’m asking these questions anew. I’m hoping that perhaps I might meet even more cousins who might be interested in the Edwin Westover Family Project.

What we’re putting together here is more than just a family reunion. It is a family history event that is unique because we’re trying to learn the extended story of Edwin Westover. We’re a part of it.

We have roughly 18 months to put this together. We want to offer it to those in person and online. All of those details are yet to be worked out but as it comes together we will share through regular updates right here and through as many family channels as we can acquire.

I’m excited for this event. I cannot wait to learn more about my cousins of the 20th and 21st centuries who claim Edwin as an ancestor.

The work of learning how to do family history at Rootstech is one I gladly take up again after three years away due to the pandemic. In years passed I have been able to meet family – almost all exclusively related as well to Edwin – that I did not know previously. Through this website and Rootstech I have met so many wonderful cousins and I cannot wait to meet more.

According to my Rootstech app and FamilySearch.org, I have more than 45,000 relatives attending Rootstech either in person or online.

So, if you’re there, drop me a text or give me a call at 435-294-9783 – I will be there all three days. I would love to meet with you, take a photo and exchange contact information.

With each contact we make we take another step forward in fulfilling Edwin’s Promise.

Gary Gillen

Gary Edward Gillen Obituary

Lovingly written by Gary’s beloved companion, Barbara Gillen

He was born to his parents, Edward Francis Gillen and Berneda Elene Cox, in Powell, Wyoming. He spent his childhood years with his older sister, Bobbi (Barbara) and his younger brother (Larry) Dean Gillen.

They were quite a team.

Gary Gillen

They had lost their father early on when Gary was 13, so he knew to be the protector for his mother and siblings.
He attended school through college in Powell and graduated Powell High School in 1960. After some college he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1963 in Denver, Colorado. He was transferred to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, where he first met his sweetheart, Barbara Malone, on a blind date. They instantly fell in love and shortly thereafter he proposed to her and they were married.

Gary Gillen

Gary then went to Aircraft Loadmaster School at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. After graduating from loadmaster school he returned to Suisun, California where they lived.

Sometime later Gary and Barbara were blessed with twin daughters, Cynthia and Sandra. A few years later their son, Greg, arrived and four years later a third daughter, Terri, was born.

Gary Gillen

In 1964, with his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Gary and his family moved to Modesto, where he immediately began working as a construction laborer. He worked for several different companies, digging and paving roads nearly 32 years, many of those years as a foreman.

During the growing up years of his children, the protector in him decided to introduce his family to his church, as he invited the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to come into our home and teach us the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He then was able to baptize his family in 1977 and one year later Gary and Barbara were sealed as a couple and family for time and all eternity in the Oakland Temple.

When finally retiring from the construction union he began driving a charter bus for Storer Transportation, where he worked for 18 years. Then it was time for him to retire due to the beginning problems with dementia.

While he was still capable of driving, Gary and Barbara began to do some traveling to visit all the children and their families more often – 16 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and another on the way.

In 2016 he became unable to drive at all. So most of the time was spent at home visiting with family and friends and having game nights with lots of laughter and singing songs accompanied by Pops on his harmonica.

Gary Gillen

He was a wonderfully devoted provider and an amazingly loving husband and father to us all.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, his aunts and uncles, and many cousins. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, daughter Cindy (Bud), daughter Sandy (Jeff), son Greg (Stacy) and Terri (Adam), and by his brother, Dean Gillen.

We are grateful to Community Hospice in Hughson, California for their many kindnesses. In lieu of flowers it was Gary’s desire that donations be made to the missionary fund of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Funeral services for Pops will be on Wednesday, September 21st, at 10am Pacific time in Modesto, California. Those wishing to join in online via Zoom please use the following link:


Kyle Jay Westover Sr.

Kyle J. Westover Sr. – Obituary

Kyle J. Westover, Sr. Kyle J. Westover Sr., beloved son, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather passed away on Tuesday, November 16, after a long and valiant battle with cancer.

Kyle J. Westover Sr. Dad was born on March 20, 1942, to Leon and Maurine Westover in Richfield, Utah.

Dad’s early years were spent in southern Utah and included time living in the Japanese Internment Camp in Topaz, where his parents served as teachers.

Dad had a legendary memory and was able to recall and tell stories from very early in his life. There are many stories from his childhood years in southern Utah that would rival any Mark Twain novel.

From dropping large rocks down the outhouse while ladies were walking by and enjoying the large splash, to inviting the entire town of Enterprise to his birthday party without telling his Mom, to hopping on his bike with a friend to head out to Zion, Dad showed early he was a big thinker who took large strides.

His numerous adventures with friends and cousins were so legendary that when we took Dad to the 50th reunion of the school in Enterprise those in the class remembered him clearly and added even more stories and adventures to his epic childhood.

Following the war and during the post-war migration of returning troops, Dad and his family moved to Concord, California.

It was there that Dad continued his early education. He attended Mount Diablo High School and participated in choir and journalism. He was a card-carrying member of the Pat Boone Fan Club where he proudly served as their president (and only member). He was a rabid consumer of 1950’s pop culture, enjoying the entertainment of radio and television.

Kyle and Cathi WestoverThese interests impacted the rest of his life and led to him meeting the love of his life, Cathi Begich Caldwell, our mother.

Their senior year included a trip to Lake Tahoe for the 1960 Winter Olympics where they served as student journalists for the Oakland Tribune. Mom and Dad married in August of 1960 and immediately started their life together in Provo, Utah, and attended BYU.

It was during this first year together that Dad began a number of traditions that continued for the rest of his life, and are now carried on by his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

One special tradition was making sure Christmas was a joyous celebration full of music, decorations, and presents. Mom was an only child and not used to such big celebrations. Dad was intent on showing her the way because he wanted that special season of the year to be meaningful for the family they together hoped to raise.

Mom and Dad’s first Christmas together, despite being struggling college students and having very meager funds, caused Dad to go all out to make it unforgettable.

With a budget of about $15—which was a huge sum of money to them in those days—he plotted a Christmas surprise. On Christmas Eve night he went into the bathroom and turned on the shower. He somehow managed to shimmy through the skinny bathroom window and snuck out of the apartment on a snowy night to retrieve the treasures from Santa’s sleigh.

He thought Mom was sound asleep, but she was not. Later she gleefully retold the story many times of this first Christmas watching Dad running back and forth barefoot in the snow to bring in the treasures.

Her amateur Santa had to toss the wrapped presents one by one through the skinny window, over the stream of still running water, and then get himself back inside without getting caught.

When he emerged from the bathroom, breathing heavily yet shivering from being out in the cold in just a tee-shirt, she had to stifle her giggles into the pillow while still pretending to be asleep.

It was a glorious sight that Christmas morning—the little trimmed tree with many presents to open was festive and foreshadowed the epic Christmases to come in the years ahead.

Of course, being limited in funds as poor college students, Dad had to make it look abundant by wrapping each shoe in its own box. He wrapped bobby pins, boxed food, and other much-needed items individually.

As Mom retold this story year after year you could see how special this was for her. That humble and festive little first Christmas together became the ideal we all tried to replicate in the years ahead.

Dad’s first job in Provo seemed at first to be a dream come true. He had heard that a small local radio station needed a night-time weekend anchor. He applied and got a phone call from the owner of the station, who hired him based upon Dad’s resonant voice alone over the phone.

Dad showed up to work, was shown where all the records were, and told when to air and read the commercials. He was left alone to choose the music, spin the discs, and provide the dialogue. Everything went well for his first weekend until he read a sponsor’s script and mispronounced the name of a local business. The owner was listening and became enraged. Just as he was hired over the phone, he was fired over the phone.

Dad was never paid for that exhaustive weekend of DJ work and never could forget the quick lessons that resulted. He vowed that if he ever owned an enterprise or led a work team, he would never treat people the way he was treated. It was a defining experience that influenced many years of later leadership.

As their life together continued, Dad and Mom moved back to California. They moved in with Mom’s parents for a brief time before buying their first home in Concord, California with the help of both families.

1287 Crawford Street

This was the first family home on Crawford Street in Concord, California.

Our family continued to grow with Debbie, Jeff, and David arriving during these years in Concord.

It was a simple time when Dad completed his education, graduating from the University of California in Berkeley during the height of the Vietnam War and the turbulent protests of the time, getting a degree as a political science major.

During these years he worked at US Steel and as a custodian at his old high school. At night and on weekends Dad would take us with Mom to work with him at the school, beginning another tradition that would endure.

His janitorial training was carefully taught to us as we helped him complete his “night job” and those same skills have now been passed down to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren as we all now know the proper way to use a dustpan and vacuum.

Upon graduating in 1968 Dad started his career with Longs Drug Stores at a store located not far from the little family home on Crawford Street.

As what seemed to have become his way, Dad was nearly fired almost as quickly as he was hired.

He rapidly took to the business and felt he could help improve things by submitting a paper suggesting changes in the operation of the store.

The move did not exactly endear him to store management and he was only rescued by a company executive who liked what Dad had to say. Another valuable lesson in communication and management was learned when given a chance to discuss his ideas.

Kyle J. Westover - College Graduate

A college graduate at age 26, with four children.

Little did he know that this was the start of a 30-year career that saw him go from store clerk to Vice President of Training and Communication, and being known as the “voice of Longs Drugs.”

Dad relied on all his past educational experience to build a training department and a culture that valued customers and employees.

His influence, mentoring, and drive to make sure every employee knew the “Long’s Way” led to life-long friendships and training methods that are now thought of as pioneering and forward-thinking.

Many of Dad’s former staff continued to reach out for mentoring and advice until the day he passed away.

During this time at Longs, both Mom and Dad worked together to develop the training department and culture within the organization. This collaboration between Mom and Dad that started in high school continued on in many different kinds of projects during their 55 years together.

Mom and Dad

While yet in high school, Mom and Dad combined their creative talents, producing exceptional work.

Their work together was magic. Their combined creative processes often produced impactful results for Longs, for church assignments, and for family goals. Watching them work together was a huge influence in the lives of their children and grandchildren. They were partners, soul mates, teammates, and influencers who, when they got together to drive a project or deliver on a deadline, made unbeatable contributions. They could complete each other’s sentences, build on each other’s ideas, and lift each other to ever higher standards. Dad and Mom were made for each other in so many ways that leaned on their creative talents.

In 1969 Dad was promoted and we moved to Lodi, California, where Kris arrived to the family and gave Dad and Mom the second daughter they both greatly wanted.

While in Lodi, Dad’s career took off. Given greater responsibility and the backdrop of a great little market in Lodi to grow a new customer base, Dad and Mom put their combined energies into building a team and a business for Longs in Lodi that was unique and productive. They designed their own ads, made their own promotions, reached out to the local community, and built team relationships by holding training meetings in our own home on weekend nights.


Dad, behind the photo counter in the Lodi store.

Even as children we were involved in these events. Many a Saturday night we would head to the store with sleeping bags and pillows to bed down in the buyer’s office while Mom and Dad set the sales floor for the new Sunday ad. It was during these years that Jay learned to set an end cap, Debbie learned to make signs and Jeff learned to fill and face product. We all prepped food and cleaned up the house for meetings that always left a buzz of energy in the home from work associates equally committed to the store that Dad helped to lead.

Dad was simply ahead of his time in these efforts, and he got noticed. He was again promoted and asked to expand his efforts to other stores. As he developed his department and worked from home commuting at times from Lodi to Longs’ general office in Walnut Creek, Mom continued to be his devoted partner. The dynamic of their creative talents and ambitious energy led to new outlets.

Dad was called to serve in leadership roles at church. All of the endeavors and project work that Dad and Mom were engaged in were embedded in our family culture. We worked and played together as a family, learning all along the way.

Family Home Evenings at Lodi Lake, dinner at Pizza Garden, sandwiches at Howard’s Deli, surprise trips to Disneyland, and amazing family vacations to Fish Lake, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Dead Horse Point were the stuff of these years. Each trip was filled with stories of Dad’s childhood, his family, and heritage.

Kyle J. Westover

Trolling for trout on Fish Lake while on vacation with Dad. Note the fishing license pinned to the shirt – always legal and always fashionable.

He would use big words from his extensive vocabulary, and when we would ask what it meant he would say ‘look it up” so, yes, a dictionary and thesaurus became part of necessary items to take on vacation.

Dad’s love for music, especially classical music and movie soundtracks, was also part of our travel routine. He would test us on who wrote what piece of music or what movie soundtrack the music came from.

This tradition became so special that it continued as he and Mom would take their grandchildren on trips.

Their grandchildren continued this tradition and now the great-grandchildren can now name the composer and movie soundtrack for hundreds of pieces.

If you are starting to see a commonality to Dad’s priorities and values, it’s because there is.

Dad can best be summed up in these words: family, faith, tradition, teaching, and history.

From monthly father/child discussions on goals and striving to live up to your potential, to Father’s blessings, gospel discussions, the importance of not only knowing history but understanding what it represents, to identifying significant emotional events and their role in your eternal journey, Dad made sure we knew who we were, where we came from, and the deep heritage we inherited from our ancestors and our obligation to honor the past, to embrace the principles of liberty, hard work, fidelity and life with eternity in mind—and to hold tight to the iron rod of gospel truth.

Kyle J. Westover

Family Christmas around 1973 – Mom must be taking the picture.

Dad’s job eventually led the family back to Concord in 1978, where a home was lovingly built by Uncle Darrell and his sons. It formed a small neighborhood of Westover homes.

As always, the loving influence of family, aunts, uncles, and cousins helped shape the lives of myself and my siblings.

As some of us left home, went on to missions, college, and marriage Dad continued the traditions of teaching, the father/child discussions, Father’s blessings, temple attendance, and church service. All along he documented the history of our growing family, now added upon through grandchildren, via photo, video, and the written word.

His influence became generational and his teaching even more wide-ranging. As new personalities entered the family picture, Dad adjusted to his new roles with them with great pleasure.


Dad cherished his role as Granddad.

Grandchildren marveled at his pancake-making skills and his ability to tackle any shape or character they asked him for.

He never missed an opportunity to teach. Photography, history, music, journalism, and humor were all taught and passed down to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

To accurately measure the impact Dad has had in his 79 years on earth look to the many tributes and memories being shared on social media and the family website at westoverfamilyhistory.org.

Mom passed away in 2015 and Dad spent the last years of his life focused on family history, capturing and documenting his family. One of Dad’s many pursuits in creating a lasting family record was the work he did to learn the history of Mom’s family that she never got a chance to learn growing up. He came to love the great clan of Begich family members.

Dad was consistent, steadfast, and diligent in teaching us to remember who we are and where we came from. As an educator, Dad was a master storyteller who emphasized that the heart of family history lies in the legends, the experiences, and the contributions of the past.

Sadly, shortly after Mom’s passing Dad was diagnosed with a rare, slow-moving cancer.

As he had done during Mom’s health trials, he learned everything he could about the disease.

He kept tedious records. He worked over his notes and came prepared to discuss how treatment was going. His doctors, much like his work associates during his career, became friends and productive contributors. Dad was adored by his caregivers. They loved his attitude and his spirit of cooperation and goodwill. He remained fiercely loyal to all those working so hard on his behalf, and they responded by “going the extra mile” for him in his fight.

Last year Dad fought off Covid while in his second year of chemo. Jeff moved in and became Dad’s primary caretaker. Together they worked for 14 months to extend his life and continue the many projects he was continually pursuing.

Debbie and Matthew, Kris and Michaela, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Dad’s siblings, and cousins all made time to help in his care to provide both temporal and spiritual support and to help Dad fight the good fight. Dad cherished all these family relationships, working more in his final days to connect and spread love.

Kyle J. Westover

Dad and Jeff exploring pioneer ancestor cemeteries in 2021, a trip taken for family history purposes with Will and LaRee Harvey

He was humbled by their enduring love for him and generous efforts on his behalf. The family forces he tried so hard during our growing up years to teach to us all came home to bear for him during his illness and final days. He was smothered in love and caring from family coast to coast.

Dad’s final day on earth was similar to thousands of days during his life.

He was looking forward—planning for the upcoming holidays, future family history trips with family, and in taking joy in his posterity. He made sure those who contacted him on Monday, knew that they were loved, that he was proud of them and, as always, to remember who we are and those who came before us.

Dad always taught that “history is not what it is, it’s what it represents.”

Family, faith, tradition, teaching, and heritage. These are what he was all about.

Thanks, Dad, for a life well led and an eternity of memories, lessons, and mentoring.

We could not have had a better father, a more loving mentor, or a more trusted friend. We love you.

Westover Family Tree

Our Family Tree

I believe now will be a good time to introduce a significant new feature to our website, one that has been requested and worked on for some time. It is our family tree.

What many folks want is a visual. They want to be able to understand how they connect to all the individuals we talk about.

That’s actually a pretty tall order and one I have frankly tried to avoid for a long time. It’s so very complex.

Most places you go online – such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org – are really limited in showing information of the living. We get why that is. The issues of privacy are complex.

Complicating that is the fact that logging in and keeping a password for any site is just plain problematic for some folks (well, everyone).

What has been requested is a way to have a tree that shows the living and yet doesn’t require a login or password.

Well, we think we have found a way. You can access our family tree at this link.

Please understand that this is a work in progress and it will always be a work in progress. We’re also attempting to include all of our many branches. This is not just Westovers alone.

We are also very focused on grafting in the ancient branches of the family – or at least those we can find within the past 500 years.

That means we are in active pursuit of the Canadian Westover lines, the Michigan Westovers, the Missouri Westovers, etc. – and we want ALL of them on the tree.

We cannot do this alone.

We know there are a lot of skill levels to this and we’re wanting to connect and work with them all.

If you have resources, especially pertaining to connected branches of the family so far not represented on the tree, we’d love to converse and, if possible, get a GEDCOM file of your current data for those missing lines.

The tree presently has about 33,000 names and more than 13,000 family groups. And that’s nothing. There are literally MILLIONS of us.

The living are very important. The Edwin Westover Family Project is a good example. We just want to know how many living descendants Edwin has and who they are. We feel that if we can find them and list them we can better share his story (and thus OUR story).

But it doesn’t end with Edwin. In fact, we want as many living family members as we can find.

We do not need any private information for the living. We just want a photo and a name. That’s it.

Here is an example of a living individual – one of my daughters, Allie. This shows only basic information about her family and her connection to me and thus to all our ancestors.

In fact, our tree is set up to showcase both the ancestors and descendants of any individual. Explore the menus a little bit, you’ll see.

And that is our primary goal: to make it possible to see how we are all connected – whether you’re on a computer, a phone or a tablet.

As with any family tree, this project will take time and effort. It will get better with time and the effort it takes to fill it out.

While we really want GEDCOM files of all our many branches we desire more to get the stories, photos and journals of as many as possible. We will work with anyone to help get that information on the site. It may take a while to achieve it but we will achieve it.

My big fear in putting this feature out there is that we will get bombarded with comments like “It’s wrong! You have my information wrong! Stuff is missing! You mangled my grandma! Where’s Uncle LeRoy? This sucks!”

We KNOW some of this wrong. We know it is incomplete. Please just help us get it right.

To begin, please see this page about what the tree is or is not (if the info above doesn’t explain it enough for you).

Then see our use and contribution policy. It contains a form where you can submit information you may want added to the tree.

Then point your folks here and have them see how they connect. Invite them to contribute or suggest. The more involved we all get the better the tree becomes.

Finally, I want to once again caution you about the many resources found online related to family history.

Any resource online – Family Search, Ancestry, even Westover Family History – is only temporary. EVER. Don’t think it will be there forever and never think it is absolute. Someone’s always messing with it.

You need to be keeping your own separate records.

You need to gather and preserve information for your own children and grandchildren. You need to have a standalone organized library of information that you have put together featuring your own research blood, sweat and tears.

That’s a lot of work and so daunting. Some have issues using computers. Others just do not see the time required to do these things. Some just rely on others to get it done. Most just don’t know where or how to begin.

We get that. We have all been there.

Whatever your excuse, please get over it.

The only way is to just jump into the pool and to take the sting of the cold water. Every journey begins with a step. There are lots around to help you and that’s all we’re offering.

It can be done if that is your true desire.

Please also recognize there are a lot of ways to bring your own talents and knowledge to the table besides working the project of researching and recording names and dates.

You can help catalog pictures, for example. We need all kinds of help organizing and identifying people in pictures.

You can write histories – really, just memories of your experiences with family members and those things you can remember. It doesn’t have to be a thesis or school paper. Just talk.

You don’t even have to write them anymore. Even recording them into your phone and passing along that recording would do.

You can be a family history reviewer – where you read and submit corrections to written histories of the past.

You can simply video yourself telling stories to your grandchildren.

There are lots of ways of doing family history and they all can now come back to the tree. Everyone putting in stuff makes the tree stronger.

I’m excited for this feature and I’m terrified by it. I hope you will consider becoming a part of it.