Sophia C. Buckmiller, secretary of the Utah Senate, died June 4, 1991, in a local hospital after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 67.
Mrs. Buckmiller worked for the Legislature for nearly 40 years. She was hired during the 1952 general session to work in what became the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. A year later she became a minute clerk in the Utah Senate. She was later named assistant Senate secretary and then, in 1973, was appointed secretary of the Senate, the first woman to hold that position.Before 1975, the part-time Legislature had no full-time staff and Mrs. Buckmiller worked during the general and special legislative sessions.
In 1976 she was employed full-time as Senate secretary and during the 1991 session oversaw a staff of more than 40 people, most of whom work just during the session.
In 1975-76, Mrs. Buckmiller served as national president of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries, also the first woman to hold that office.
Only once in her 40-year career did Mrs. Buckmiller voluntarily step out of her non-partisan role as chief of Senate staff. In 1970 she became a Senate candidate herself, seeking to fill the unexpired term of the late state Sen. C. Earl Alsop, R-Salt Lake. She was not successful and returned as Senate secretary after the election.
She worked as a hospital X-ray technician after high school and during WWII worked as a secretary at Fort Douglas. She was married to Naaman Buckmiller, and the couple had two children.
Mrs. Buckmiller took pride in her meticulous work in the Senate, overseeing all operations while tactfully reminding the Senate president about legal procedures that must be followed for laws to be valid.
Services will be Monday, June 10, at 11 a.m. in the Union Fort 4th LDS Ward, 7400 S. 1000 East. Friends may call on Sunday, June 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. at McKay Cottonwood Mortuary, 4670 S. Highland Drive, or at 10 a.m. Monday at the church.