Year in review: BYU deaths

Delynne Peay

BYU faculty member Delynne Peay died Monday, Jan. 13, at 10:05 p.m. She was hospitalized with the flu several days earlier, according to the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications’ external relations student team.

Peay began working in BYU’s Department of Dance in 1974 and taught folk dancing and tap. She was the longest-standing member of the dance department’s faculty when she died. Peay was described as an “expert teacher” and “one of the most influential women on BYU campus” by Mary Bee Jensen, founder of the BYU Folk Dance team and Peay’s mentor.


Ashleigh Cox

Described by friends as a “spiritual giant” and one who “radiates goodness” on her Facebook page, BYU student Ashleigh Cox, 21, died Sunday, Feb. 9, after being taken off life support at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

Cox, a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was swept by an avalanche into a stream while snowshoeing with friends in Tibble Fork Reservoir on Saturday, Feb. 8. She was buried under snow and water for more than 40 minutes before rescuers were able to retrieve her.


Rhett Fisher, a BYU electrical engineering student and member of the men’s chorus, from Apopka, Florida, died unexpectedly on Saturday, March 22.

Rhett Fisher

Fisher reportedly suffered from epilepsy, although he had been without incident since June of 2013.

Kim Chamberlain, a close friend of Fisher, described him as playful, loving and as an extremely dedicated individual. Despite his epilepsy, Fisher’s goal was to serve as a full-time missionary, following in the footsteps of his recently returned brother.


The Department of Dance lost a beloved member of its faculty on Monday, April 28, 2014.

Lisa Stoddard
Lisa Stoddard

Lisa Stoddard, 45, died after a car accident on her way to join BYU Music Dance Theatre (MDT) performers at the Salt Lake airport. She was the choreographer for the members of the group who were to audition for jobs as part of the university’s New York Showcase program.

Stoddard had a large responsibility in the department in recent months with her positions in MDT, as jazz dance coordinator and department recruitment chair.


James Albert Mason, former dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications at BYU, died on May 15, 2014, at the age of 85.

James Albert Mason
James Albert Mason

Mason was born and raised in Springville, where he fell in love with music and art at an early age.

He became chairman of the music department and was key in completing BYU’s Museum of Art, appointed as its founding director when it was finished.

Ralph Brown
Ralph Brown

BYU sociology professor Ralph Brown died from a battle with pancreatic cancer on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, at the age of 54.

Brown was born in Twin Falls, Idaho on Jan. 25, 1960 and was living at his home in Springville when he died.


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