Former Gov. Norm Bangerter dies at 82

ST. GEORGE – Norman Bangerter, former governor of Utah, died Tuesday afternoon after suffering a stroke earlier in the day.

Bangerter had a stroke Tuesday morning and was receiving “appropriate medical attention,” family spokesman Dave Buhler said, but the former governor died from complications of the stroke at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Condolences from state officials

Gov. Gary Herbert:

Gov. Bangerter was first and foremost a friend and a mentor to me. He was a great leader who accomplished great things on behalf of our state. I always appreciated his forthright and no-nonsense leadership and his willingness to make the tough decisions.  

That leadership was on display as recently as this past Thurs. when Gov. Bangerter spoke to the leadership of the Utah Highway Patrol, our Honorary Colonels, and many other civic and legislative leaders at the Governor’s Mansion. As that evening concluded, I told Gov. Bangerter I valued his counsel and that I wanted him to call me at any time and give me his input. He assured me he would. His sudden passing is a shock to me and the state. We will all miss him.  

The First Lady and I extend our deepest condolences to members of the Bangerter family, and express gratitude on behalf of all Utahns for his service to the state as governor, as a legislator and as Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives.

Sen. Orrin Hatch:

Elaine and I are so saddened to hear about the passing of our dear friend, Governor Norm Bangerter. He served our state with integrity and gritty determination and was never afraid to make the tough decisions and do what is right. He had a strong will and was always true to his principles and beliefs. I could always count on him to share his ideas and wise counsel and there was never a question of how much he loved our state and nation. We will miss him dearly and send our thoughts and prayers to his wife Judy, six children, foster son, and numerous grandchildren and family and friends.

Sen. Mike Lee:

Governor Norm Bangerter was an extraordinary man who loved Utah and this country and worked tirelessly to make them better.  His leadership will be missed as his friendship will be cherished.  Our state and nation are better today because Norm Bangerter chose to sacrifice and serve.

About Bangerter

Bangerter was elected in 1984 as Utah’s first Republican governor in 20 years. His administration emphasized what he termed “the three E’s: Education, Economic Development, and Efficiency in Government,” according to a press release sent out by Buhler Tuesday. Later, a fourth “E,” for environment, was added to the list.

Bangerter was re-elected in 1988 and served from 1985-1993.

Bangerter was born Jan. 4, 1933, in rural Salt Lake County, the son of William Henry Bangerter and Isabelle Bawden Bangerter. He grew up in Granger, the 10th of 11 children. A graduate of Cyprus High School, he attended Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, where he majored in history. He served in the U.S. Army, stationed in Korea, from 1953-54.

Prior to becoming governor, Bangerter was a successful real estate developer and businessman. He entered politics in 1974, when he was elected to the Utah House of Representatives, and served in that capacity until he was elected governor.

During this time, Bangerter served as assistant majority whip, majority leader and speaker of the house. He was the first speaker to serve two consecutive terms in more than 40 years. In 1983, the national Republican Party named him one of the top 10 national Republican legislators.

During his years as governor, Bangerter also served as the chairman and vice chairman of the Western Governors Association and was on numerous committees of the National Governors Association. In 1991, he was listed in eighth place in a Newsweek magazine poll that asked the nation’s governors to choose their most effective peers.

Bangerter believed in the value of hard work and in fiscal responsibility, the press release said. During his eight years in office, Utah faced many significant challenges. Bangerter made tough decisions and then honestly presented those decisions to the citizens of Utah.

While announcing he would not seek a third term, Bangerter said, as quoted in the press release:

We have had some difficult times. I am proud that we have not avoided the tough issues during my administration. We have not concentrated on image or on protecting our popularity in the polls. We have taken the problems as they came, head on and we have proposed the best solutions we knew – regardless political consequences … I want to go down in history as the governor who didn’t spend eight years worrying about how he would go down in history.

Bangerter married Colleen Monson on Aug. 18, 1953. She passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2011.

The Bangerters presided over the Johannesberg, South Africa, mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1996 to 1999.

Bangerter’s pride and joy were his six children and one foster son and their spouses, along with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In 2012, he married Judy Schiffman.

After his service as governor, Bangerter chaired the Utah Advisory Commission to Optimize State Government for Gov. Gary R. Herbert. His political advice and wisdom was often sought by numerous candidates and office holders.

Report updates:  9:30 p.m. to include condolences issued by Herbert, Hatch and Lee.

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