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Rep. Lou Shurtliff dies after 3-week battle with pneumonia

Rep. LaWanna Shurtliff, D-Ogden.
Utah Legislature

OGDEN — Rep. LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff, D-Ogden, died Wednesday night after a three-week battle with pneumonia.

Weber County’s lone Democrat, Shurtliff, who was just reelected to represent House District 10, had been hospitalized for three weeks after becoming sick on Dec. 6. She entered the hospital a day later, and then early Thursday, her family acknowledged her passing on her legislative Facebook page.

“It is with heavy hearts we regret to announce the passing of our beloved, LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff,” the post said. “She was first and foremost a loving mother, committed grandmother, and generous great-grandmother. Her absence is already deeply felt by our family and her presence will be sorely missed throughout the community.

“After a three-week battle with infection, it was ultimately determined that Lou recovering and coming off of ventilitory support was not possible. In accordance with her wishes, the decision was made to let her pass peacefully. She was surrounded by her children, brothers, and son-in-law.

“We would like to thank the ICU team at McKay Dee Hospital that worked tirelessly throughout her hospitalization. Each members commitment to her care was both deeply felt and appreciated by our family. Funeral plans and obituary are forthcoming.”

Update: December 31, 2020 It is with heavy hearts we regret to announce the passing of our beloved, LaWanna "Lou"...

Posted by Rep. Lou Shurtliff on Thursday, December 31, 2020

Family members told the media she’d tested negative for COVID-19 “and several other viruses.” Condolences for the lawmaker and teacher were shared on social media Wednesday night and continued Thursday as the news of her death spread.

Friend and fellow lawmaker Patrice Arent mourned Shurtliff, 85, in a tweet.

“I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of my dear friend Rep Lou Shurtliff,” Arent wrote. “She was a truly effective legislator who worked so hard to represent her constituents. She was respected by people on both sides of the aisle. She was also an extraordinary teacher.”

Gov. Gary Herbert also tweeted his condolences.

“Rep Lou Shurtliff was a wonderful teacher and public servant,” Herbert said. “This is a sad day for all who had the very good luck to know her or work with her. Jeanette and I extend our heartfelt sympathy to her loved ones.”

Shurtliff served in the Utah House from 1999 to 2008 before being elected to represent District 10, which covers southern Ogden and Washington Terrace, in 2018. She was also a teacher at Ogden High School for many years.

In the Dec. 10 statement, Shurtliff’s family thanked her doctors for “their devoted care and compassionate service to both Lou and our family during this difficult time.”

Sen. Luz Escamilla, a Salt Lake City Democrat, tweeted, “So incredibly sad to hear of the passing of a colleague and strong public servant Rep. Lou Shurtliff. Sending my condolences and prayers to her family.”

Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, shared his thoughts on the woman who taught at his alma mater: “Saddened this morning to learn of the passing of my friend Rep. Lou Shurtliff. She was a beloved teacher at Ogden High School when Holly and I were there. Although, I didn’t have her, my siblings did! It was fun to reconnect years later in the legislature.”

Gov.-elect Spencer Cox tweeted thoughts Wednesday night: “This is the saddest of news. Rep. Shurtliff was beloved by all who knew and worked with her. She will be terribly missed. Our hearts go out to her family at this difficult time.”

Senate President Stuart Adams tweeted: “Devastated by the loss of my colleague and friend, Rep. Lou Shurtliff. I was blessed to have the opportunity to serve with her in the House. She was an incredible public servant and will be greatly missed in the Legislature. Praying for her family during this difficult time.”

Democratic House Minority Leader Rep. Brian King said, “The death of my friend and colleague, Lou Shurtliff, last night is devastating. This remarkable teacher and legislator shaped lives and served as few others do. She combined tenacity with compassion and wisdom to create a singular force for good in Utah. I will miss her.”

Senator Deidre Henderson, who will soon be sworn is as Utah’s next lieutenant governor, shared a picture with her condolences, “I’m incredibly sad to learn that Rep. Lou Shurtliff lost her battle with pneumonia. She was a dedicated public servant and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to work with and get to know her over the past two years. My sincere condolences to her family members and loved ones.”

Both the Republican and Democratic parties of Utah released statements of praise and offered Shurtliff’s family condolences.