Cover photo for Mario Halter's Obituary
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1943 Mario 2023

Mario Halter

October 3, 1943 — October 3, 2023

Dallas, OR

"There is greatness within you." –Mario Halter

Mario was an original! Born during the height of World War II in the small, rural, southern Brazilian jungle town of Joinville in the spring of 1943, he was the third child of Francisco Halter and Hedwig Otto. This humble and loving family made their living farming bananas and sugarcane, with only a horse and buggy to assist them. A descendant of German, Swiss, and eastern European immigrants, Mario's first language was German. As he started to attend school, however, his primary language proved to be a stumbling block, as he was required to speak Portuguese in school. He ended up flunking out of the 4th grade and was thus sent back home, where he joined his dad working full-time on their farm. Later, as a young man, he found work as a tool-die maker and joined the Brazilian infantry. His life changed forever when he was asked to be a youth leader in what was initially his mother's church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He found purpose and meaning in helping others come unto Christ. Eventually, his love of the gospel led him to serve a full-time mission building chapels for the rapidly growing church in Porto Alegre, Brazil, from 1963-65. There, he became a leader among his peers, coordinating logistics for the construction materials and the living conditions of the missionaries. His mission gave him the opportunity to meet Kelton and Thelma Harris, American missionaries who took him in and treated him as a son. They helped him achieve his dream of going to the United States. Mario's parents, in a loving gesture, gave him their life savings to help him buy his plane ticket. He arrived in Los Angeles the morning after the 1965 Watts Riots with only 4 dollars in his pocket but an "American Dream" the size of Fort Knox and the drive to accomplish anything he put his mind to. Mario didn't know English, but he had a strong desire to learn the language and become an AMERICAN! In early 1967, he was drafted into the active forces of the United States Army as a Brazilian citizen and earned his GED through the Army. He was then sent to Vietnam to work as a mortician, gathering his fallen brothers to send them home. In pure naivety, Mario applied to and was accepted to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 1968. As he arrived at school, BYU officials were perplexed on how he came to be there, noting that he had no real education and minimal English proficiency. . After meeting with the Dean, Mario was given a strict GPA to adhere to in order to stay. Mario made and exceeded expectations, making the Dean's List multiple times. He majored in Economics, History, and Geography, minoring in and learning yet another language: Spanish. Mario loved to have fun and he loved friends. It was a fortuitous event when his roommate asked him to take his place at a party. There, he met the love of his life, the bubbly Janice Cox, and after losing a bet, he graciously accepted his penalty…which was to ask Janice to marry him! His goofy, yet sweet expression, not to mention his good looks, were endearing and they began dating. They were married December 19, 1970, in the St. George Utah Temple, a union lasting nearly 53 years at the time of his passing. One of the proudest moments of Mario's life was when he was sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America in 1971. Eventually, Mario and Jan moved to Colorado to teach school, and then with their small family, moved to Salem, Oregon, where he earned his Master's Degree and was a teacher at McNary and McKay High Schools for 27 years. Mario loved teaching, and especially enjoyed using his life story to inspire and motivate many students who needed extra encouragement. He was beloved for his ability to empower struggling students to improve their lives; seeing their subsequent successes brought him much joy. He was a fierce advocate for education. Mario continued to serve the United States in the Army Reserves and was proud of his rank of E-8, Master Sergeant. In early 1991, he was called up to active duty to assist in the Desert Storm conflict and was away from his family as he trained soldiers headed overseas. He retired from the Reserves after 25 years of service, earning multiple awards and accolades.

Mario was a good friend. Favorite memories by friends and family include countless fishing and crabbing trips. He would try to find those who needed extra love and lift them up by bringing them the latest produce from his abundant garden or the latest catch from a fishing trip. He had a very generous heart and gave where he could. He lived what he preached.

By far, Mario's greatest joy and source of pride were his wife and five children. He was a devoted husband and father. He and Jan worked hard to provide every possible educational opportunity they could for their kids, often at great sacrifice. Mario loved to talk to people and easily made friends with strangers. It didn't take much to get him bragging about his kids, and the bragging only intensified as 18 living grandchildren joined the family! Mario was never far from the activities of his kids and grandkids, and was ever diligent in striving to attend their important life events, even from across the country! Mario instilled confidence and love in his family.

Mario's cheerful personality and unique sense of humor and approach to life left those who came in contact with him either laughing or scratching their heads. He was so funny and colorful, never failing to lighten moods and bring joy wherever he went. He lived his life to the fullest and danced to the beat of his own drum. Mario always knew he would make it to the age of 80. He died surrounded by his family on his 80th birthday, received by family members who had gone before. Until the end, Mario had a strong faith in Jesus Christ and of His love and mercy. Mario is preceded in death by his parents, Francisco & Hedwig (Otto) Halter, his brother, Heinz Halter, his sister, Norma Halter, adopted American parents, Kelton and Thelma Harris, and 12 unborn grandchildren. Mario is survived by his brother, Lauro Halter, his wife, Janice Cox Halter, his children, Rebecca (& Mark) Richardson, Janet (& Jim) Larsen, Courtney Halter Dickerson, Emily (& Matthew) McClelland & Braden (& Angelica) Halter, as well as 18 beautiful and amazing grandchildren who, according to Mario, all got their good looks from their grandpa (haha).

Funeral Services will be held Saturday, Oct 14, 2023, with a public viewing from 9:00-10:15 AM, family viewing from 10:15-10:45 and service at 11:00 AM. Dallas Chapel, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1401 SW 13th St, Dallas, OR 97338. Internment Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, Santa Clara City Cemetery, Pioneer Section, Santa Clara, Utah.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Mario Halter, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

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Saturday, October 21, 2023

11:30am - 12:30 pm (Mountain time)

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Graveside Service

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Mountain time)

Saint Clara City Cemetery

Ancestor Way, Santa Clara, UT 84765

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