Former Utah speaker remembered as compassionate and tough


Michael A. Kruse
Capital West News Service

SALT LAKE CITY — Friends, family members and colleagues remembered Becky Lockhart as a trailblazer who was tenacious and caring.

Lockhart, Utah’s first female speaker of the House, died at 46 from a rare brain disease on Jan. 17. About 1,500 people sat in the Capitol Rotunda as representatives from the political and religion realms shared their memories of Lockhart.

About 1,500 people attended the memorial service for former Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart.
About 1,500 people attended the memorial service for former Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart.

The service showed off religious diversity. Utah Catholic Bishop John Wester gave the opening prayer, Calvary Baptist Church choir preformed musical numbers, and former Rep. Ryan Wilcox preformed “Be Still my Soul.” David Litvack, former House minority leader, said as a Jew and Democrat, Lockhart always made him feel valued as a person. He recounted a time in Lockhart celebrated Passover with his family.

Litvach referred to Lockhart by the Yiddish term of “mensch,” which refers to a person of integrity and honor. Litvach said it meant someone to be held in the highest esteem.

“Thank you on behalf of my daughter, and all the daughters out there for leading the way,” he said.

Family friend Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, said Lockhart was a champion of women’s rights. He quoted Ayn Rand to describe Lockhart’s attitude: “It’s not who’s going to let me, it’s who’s going to stop me.”

Bramble said that Lockhart’s moniker as Utah’s Iron Lady didn’t capture the caring person she was.

“She was a great woman, a great legislator, and a great friend,” Bramble said as he closed with tears in eyes.

Along with political leaders, Emily Britton, Lockhart’s daughter, also praised her mother. She said every night at their house contained a political debate. Once a year Britton said Lockhart would spend a day taking each of the children to the legislative session with her.

“Those days were more exciting than birthdays,” Britton said. “It’s no surprise that she was called ‘Utah’s Iron Lady,’ she paved the way for every Utah woman.”

Majority Whip Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said he thinks of Lockhart as a pioneer in every sense of the word.

“She was a pioneer for women in politics in Utah, she was a pioneer for women everywhere,” Gibson said. Gibson added how Lockhart just saw the word ‘No’ as another obstacle to get past. Gibson added Lockhart always stood up for what she thought was right, even in the face of criticism.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offered comfort from the faith that Lockhart’s family would see her again. He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It’s not the length of a life that matters, it’s the depth.” He said Lockhart’s life had plenty of depth.

Gov. Gary Herbert told how Lockhart and her husband, Stan, were never afraid to share their opinions with him.

“Utah is better place because Becky served here,” said Herbert. He added that residents should take her memory as an opportunity to find people to lift up and serve.

Lockhart served in the Utah House of Representatives for 16 years. She had been speaker since 2011. She served until 2014 when she elected not to run for office again. A private viewing and funeral were to be held by the family Thursday night.

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