Denise Rebecca Schellenberg Was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 10, 1950 to Albert Nephi Schellenberg and Elisabeth Michel, immigrants from Switzerland. She was the fourth of six children (Albert Thomas, Louise Elisabeth, Martin Lehi, Denise Rebecca, Lily Sarah, Parley Michel.)
She was born very premature and had to spend almost three months in an isolate unit at the Holy Cross Hospital in down town Salt Lake City. In this unit she received oxygen. The year she was born there was no tested guidelines as to how much oxygen to administer to these tiny babies and so the space of two or more years all the babies receiving oxygen in these units were getting way too much, which burned their eyes, causing the growth of thick cataracts which were inoperable and left these infants blind for the remainder of their life. Denise was one of these.
It was a few months after the shock of her blindness that it was realized she could not hear either. Evidently there was no nerve connection from the ear to the brain. And so it was that she spent her entire life in silent darkness. She did however develop a very keen sense of smell and recognized people and places with her nose.
Frantic to do all they could to help their daughter, Albert and Elisabeth accepted help from a team of doctors that found funding for Denise to go to the Perkins School for the blind and deaf near Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of about six she was taken to this school. With no way to communicate to her, she made this move without knowing where she was going, how long she would be there and why she had to go.
After about three years she came back to Salt Lake City to live with her family but was not able to communicate with anyone.
A short time after her return her family moved to Shelley, Idaho and she remained at home with them.
Eventually everyone’s inability to communicate with her necessitated that at the age of about fourteen she needed to live in a place where she could be under constant supervision.
Another move she did not understand came when arrangements were made for her to move to Nampa, Idaho where she became a resident of the Idaho State School and Hospital.
She lived there for many years until she was in her 40’s, when the family felt it was necessary for her to leave that environment and be closer to home. Her younger sister Lily built a home for her in Shelley, Idaho and arranged for an agency to take care of her.
Family could now visit her often. She lived there in happiness under the watchful supervision of very dedicated care providers, which she and her family loved and appreciated very much.
Her strong and unconquerable spirit were very apparent. She touched and blessed the lives of all that knew her.
She passed away quietly the evening of July 4, 2019. Those that were at her bedside commented at the unimaginable joy she must have felt as she departed her body and could see and hear for the first time in almost 69 years.
Graveside services will be 12:00 PM Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at the Shelley Hillcrest Cemetery. The family will meet with friends Wednesday morning from 11:00 AM till 11:30 PM at Nalder Funeral Home (110 West Oak) in Shelley. Burial will be in the Shelley Hillcrest Cemetery.