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Obituary: Lila Alta Burton Bjorklund

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On April 25, 2002, Lila Alta Burton Bjorklund, 87, died from complications from surgery. Lila devoted the greater part of her life to helping abused, abandoned, and neglected children.

She was born Oct. 28, 1914, in Ogden, Utah, to Alta Campbell Burton and Michael Burton. She attended Weber State College and married Russell E. Bjorklund in the Salt Lake Temple on October 9, 1936. She was active in the LDS church, serving in many ward and stake callings concerned with Primary, Young Women and Young Adults.

She served in many capacities in the local PTA. She served for ten years on the Utah Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Board, first as Legislative Chairman, then First Vice President, and then as Utah State PTA President (1970-72). She pioneered PTA's Critical Issues Conferences and served as a member of many state and national committees, boards and councils.

Lila worked effectively with the Utah State Legislature. She initiated legislation mandating testing of all newborns for PKU. She also influenced bills on child abuse and neglect, driver's education, school lunches and other educational funding.

Lila was active in the Salt Lake Council of Women, first chairing the Education Committee, then served as President (1960-61) Under her leadership the Council worked for better detention facilities and courts for juveniles. She is a member of their Hall of Fame.

She served for ten years on the Utah State Board of Education and chairperson of that board in 1980-81. She was an advocate for services for the handicapped and for greater technical education opportunities for youth. While on the State Board, Lila was assigned to represent the Board at conferences on equal opportunities for women.

She was the Utah sales representative for Scholastic Magazines for ten years.

Lila founded Utah Girls' Village in 1969 in response to a cry for help from judges, social workers and parents. Lila brought together other women leaders, and they raised the funds, confounded the skeptics, ruined two cars hauling building materials, and built four group homes for troubled girls. Under Lila's direction, the Village began caring for troubled boys in 1989, so it was renamed Utah Youth Village.

Today, Utah Youth Village serves over 500 children and families a year in four group homes, 45 Therapeutic Family Homes (foster homes), through parenting classes and the highly-successful family preservation program, Families First.

After founding Utah Girls' Village, Lila worked tirelessly to better the lives of troubled children, spending 40 - 50 hours per week for 30 years without monetary compensation. Up until last year, at 86 years of age, she continued to attend every graduation from Utah Youth Village and personally honored the graduate. Lila gave her own furniture, her own money, as well as books, gifts, clothing, and anything that would help children in need.

Lila has received acclaim from many organizations and has been the recipient of the Presidential Citation from Brigham Young University; Utah Commission on Volunteers Lifetime Achievement Award; 1997 Women of the Year Award from the Governor's Commission on Women and Children. Nationally, she has received the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award and was honored as one of the Thousand Points of Light in May, 1998.

She is survived by her children, Peter B. Bjorklund (Ann) of Los Altos Hills, Calif.; Jay R. Bjorklund (Ann) of Sandy; Anne Bjorklund Olsen (Scott) of Prescott Valley, Arizona; and Eric W. Bjorklund (Sylvia) of Holladay; and her sister Melva Burton Baird of Ogden. She is also survived by 17 grandchildren and 11 great-grand-children. She was preceded in death by her spouse Russell E. Bjorklund and son Josef, her parents Michael and Alta Burton, and her siblings, Harriet Williams, Anna Mae Burton and Earl Burton.

Funeral services will be held at 12:00 p.m., noon, Monday April 29, 2002, at the Ensign 3rd Ward at 9th Avenue and K Street in Salt Lake City. Family and friends may call Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Larkin Mortuary, 260 East South Temple in Salt Lake City, and on Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Ensign 3rd Ward. Internment at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

We will miss her indefatigable soul and her kind and loving spirit! Lila was fond of saying, "Help One Child, Help Generations to Come." In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Utah Youth Village, 5800 So. Highland Drive, SLC, Utah 84121.