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Taylorsville to honor late disabled resident

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TAYLORSVILLE — When Seth Isaksen was alive, buzzing around town on his electric-powered wheelchair, he made a lot of friends and left his mark on this city.

Since he died unexpectedly, just before his 21st birthday, he has left residents looking for a way to honor him and his contributions to Taylorsville.

So at this week's City Council meeting, Mayor Janice Auger declared today "Seth Isaksen Day."

City leaders first became aware of Isaksen at a dinner honoring his family for its dedication in raising and lowering the flag at Bridgeside Park's Freedom Shrine. The city officials met Isaksen and were impressed with him despite the fact that his physical limitations kept him from personally caring for the flag.

"These are the kinds of things that make up communities," Auger told the Deseret Morning News.

The flag was first raised at the park shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, and the Isaksen family was there to watch the ceremony. David Isaksen, Seth's father, said the family was filled with patriotism and enjoyed the ceremony and knowing the flag would fly above the park.

So the next day, when David Isaksen was driving by the park on his way to work, he was surprised to see the flag was not flying.

He learned that because there was no lighting at the shrine, the flag had to be raised each morning and lowered before dark and that there was no one available to do it. So David Isaksen volunteered his family.

For the next year or so, until lights were installed at the park, the Isaksens made sure the flag was flying during daylight hours.

Born with a musculature deficiency, Seth Isaksen couldn't do much himself with the flag, but he often took on the role of reminding family members when it was their turn, "literally becoming their conscience," Auger said.

Seth died July 4 from complications after he crashed his wheelchair rolling down a hill. David Isaksen said that as Seth became older, he wanted more and more freedom and was always trying to go faster and do more. His accident was a result of trying to go too fast down the hill.

"He was just being himself," David Isaksen said.

It was his personality that made him memorable to everyone who knew him, and he had become "kind of a fixture around town," David Isaksen said. Easily recognized on his wheelchair, he was the guy everyone would wave at as they drove by.

"He made friends with just about anyone who would talk to him," David Isaksen said. "He was just a kid that everybody loved. He was easy to spot and easy to get to know, and he just loved being around people."

He said the family is honored to have Seth recognized by the city, and he said he especially appreciated the "overwhelming outpouring of love and condolences" the family has received, even from people they didn't know, since Seth's death.

Seth Isaksen Day will be marked by an 8 a.m. flag ceremony today in his honor at Bridgeside Park, 619 W. 4500 South, just west of the Jordan River. The public is invited to attend. Parking is available on the north side of 4800 South.

E-mail: dsmeath@desnews.com