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Utah lawmakers honor the late Ogden Rep. Shurtliff, who died after winning reelection

SHARE Utah lawmakers honor the late Ogden Rep. Shurtliff, who died after winning reelection
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Family and friends of former Rep. LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff, D-Ogden, honor her after her death last month during the opening of the 2021 general legislative session at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — As one of their first acts of the 2021 session, Utah lawmakers approved a resolution honoring the late Rep. LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff, who died in December after a three-week battle with pneumonia.

“Her loss is a great loss for all of us. A loss of somebody who was a revered educator,” Senate Majority Whip Ann Millner, R-Ogden, said on the Senate floor. Shurtliff’s popularity in District 10 was fueled by love and support from students and parents.

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. Her family told the media she’d tested negative for COVID-19 “and several other viruses.”

Shurtliff’s daughter, Stacey Godfrey, conducted the Pledge of Allegiance on the House floor on Tuesday.

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A photo of Rep. LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff, D-Ogden, is displayed at the Capitol in Salt Lake City as the Utah Legislature opens the 2021 general session Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. Shurtliff died in December.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The concurrent resolution, HCR7, sponsored by Holladay Democrat Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, described Shurtliff as “an advocate for her students both inside and outside the classroom.” The resolution describes her as having a “mind and a gift for developing relationships with representatives on both sides of the aisle and was loved and respected by legislators throughout the state.”

Shurtliff, 85, was born in 1935 in the small Star Valley community of Smoot, Wyoming, according to the resolution. She grew up spending time on her grandfather’s farm milking cows, tending sheep, feeding chickens, gathering eggs and hauling hay. She graduated from Star Valley High School in 1953 and went on to teach English at Roy Junior High School. She served as president of the Ogden Education Association, director of the Utah Education Association and a member of the National Education Association.

She represented District 10 from 1999 to 2008, and again from 2019 until her death.

“LaWanna ‘Lou’ Shurtliff was a political mentor for elected officials and other people in her life and inspired people, young and old, to be more involved in bettering their community,” the resolution states. “She led by example with her steadfast commitment to her principles and by her personal touch, especially her candor and infectious laugh.”

Gov. Spencer J. Cox on Monday ordered the U.S. and Utah flags be flown at half-staff on Tuesday to honor Shurtliff.

“As a longtime representative and a beloved teacher at Ogden High School, Rep. Shurtliff was truly a devoted public servant,” Cox said in a news release Monday. “We honor her long-standing service to our community and offer sincere condolences to her family and her many friends in the Legislature.”

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The late Allyson Gamble and Rep. Lou Shurtliff are honored in the Senate chamber during the first day of the Utah Legislature’s 2021 general session at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News