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Deedee Corradini remembered as a visionary leader and for her love of family

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini was remembered Monday as a visionary leader, a champion of women's rights, a loving life partner and a grandmother who taught her only granddaughter to "set a proper dinner table and ski black diamond runs."

Family, former mayors of Salt Lake City, women ski jumpers and longtime friends and business associates came together at Wasatch Presbyterian Church Monday to celebrate Corradini’s life. She was Salt Lake's first and only woman mayor, serving two terms between 1992 and 2000.

Corradini, 70, died March 1 at her Park City home. A non-smoker, Corradini had undergone treatment for Stage 4 lung cancer since its diagnosis in late July. She did not publicly acknowledge her illness until February.

Her granddaughter, Savannah Corradini, told friends and family at the hour-long memorial service that her best memories of her grandmother involved Corradini singing at the dinner table at Christmas.

Her grandmother had a horrible voice but she sang until other family members' ears bled, she said.

The 12-year-old said this is what she learned from her grandmother: "Always set a proper dinner table, never give up on your dreams and sing your heart out."

Like many people who spoke at the funeral, her granddaughter marveled at Corradini's many accomplishments.

"I think of everything she's done and it blows my mind," she said.

Corradini helped secure approval and funding for Salt Lake’s initial TRAX light rail line and also pushed for the relocation of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, which divided the city.

The Rev. Scott Dalgarno said he appreciated the fact that Salt Lake City had light rail when he decided, while living in Portland, to apply for a ministerial position at Wasatch Presbyterian Church.

"I thought, 'Oh, there must be some forward-thinking people there.' Later I found out it was Deedee Corradini who made this happen and she was a member of this church," Dalgarno said.

Various speakers noted that Corradini moved mountains in other ways.

She worked tirelessly to help Salt Lake City win the bid to host the 2002 Winter Games. She also lobbied for funding of Salt Lake’s massive I-15 reconstruction, prior to the Games.

While mayor, Corradini approved the controversial sale of the Main Street Plaza area to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; ushered in The Gateway project and secured a new stadium for Salt Lake’s AAA professional baseball team.

After leaving office, Corradini worked internationally for women's rights through her participation and leadership of the International Women's Forum.

Esther Silver-Parker, past president of the forum, which has 6,000 members on six continents, traveled from New York City to eulogize Corradini, who served as the organization’s president from 2011-2013.

“It has been said she moved the tectonic plates of our organization,” Silver-Parker said. “She was relentless in her quest to advance opportunities for women.”

Ski jumper Lindsey Van was a teenager when she met Corradini. When Corradini learned women could not compete on the Olympic stage in ski jumping, she set about to change the course of the sport.

Corradini waged a nearly decade-long battle to convince the International Olympic Committee to sanction women's Nordic ski jumping as an official sport.

She traveled the globe to make the ski jumpers’ case and taught them to advocate for themselves, Van said. The sport made its Olympic debut during the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.

"She showed us we could do more and we could be more," Van said.

John Huebner, Corradini's husband, said, "Sixteen years of living with and loving Deedee has been one hell of a ride."

Huebner said Corradini's children, Andy and Andrea, "adopted him" when the couple married.

"What a gift. For the first time, I had a family," he said.

Huebner said he struggles to comprehend why anyone must endure cancer. "I have no idea where I go from here. I know where I've been. For the first time, I loved and I was loved in return. Therefore, my life has been fulfilled," he said.

Many speakers remarked on Corradini ability to smile in good times and bad.

Her son, Andrew Corradini, quoted Dr. Seuss, asking those attending the memorial service not to “cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

"We are here to smile," he said.

Andrew Corradini and his sister Andrea knew their mother, who raised them as a single mother after their parents’ divorce, was a “great, great woman” who always took the high road.

She “fought and gave even when the winds were against her,” he said.

As the memorial service got underway Monday, bells rang eight times at the Salt Lake City-County Building at noon to honor Corradini eight years as mayor.

Late last week, Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker declared Monday as Deedee Corradini Day with a declaration noting her “tireless dedication” to the residents of the city and her vision of Utah's capital city as a “burgeoning regional, national and international leader in commerce, transit and progressive policy.”

At the order of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, flags were lowered to half-staff Monday to honor Corradini, the capital city’s 32nd mayor.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com