Becky Lockhart, Utah’s first female House Speaker, dies; state leaders react

Speaker Becky Lockhart, Circa March 2014 | Image courtesy of YouTube, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – Former Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart died Saturday, according to a statement from a family spokesman.

According to the statement, Lockhart succumbed to “an unrecoverable and extremely rare neurodegenerative brain disease.” She died shortly after noon Saturday. She was 46.

She was at peace and surrounded by her family,” family spokesman Curt Bramble said in the statement. “It’s a credit to world-class doctors and Becky’s indomitable spirit that they were able to have these past days together with her.”

It was reported last week that Lockhart had been submitted to a hospital with a critical illness.

It was confirmed in a press conference following the former speaker’s death that she died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or CJD. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, CJD affects one-in-1,000,000 people worldwide.

Lockhart served in the Utah House of Representatives for 16 years and served the last four years as Utah’s first female Speaker of the House. She become known to some as “Utah’s Iron Lady.”

She retired from the Legislature in March 2014. For a time there was speculation she may run for governor in 2016.

Since news of Lockhart’s death was released, state leaders have issued statements expressing their sympathies.

Gov. Gary R. Herbert

“I have known and been a friend of the Lockhart family for 25 years and I am terribly saddened by the news of Becky’s sudden and unexpected passing.

“Speaker Lockhart was a tremendous public servant who spent more than a decade and a half in the Utah House of Representatives and she made history as Utah’s first female House Speaker. While she was first and foremost a wonderful wife and mother, she was also a remarkable role model, particularly to the untold numbers of women who were inspired by her example to be involved in public service. The state of Utah is a better place because of the service and sacrifice of Stan and Becky Lockhart.”

Attorney General Sean Reyes

“Today, those in the Office of the Utah Attorney General mourn the passing of former Speaker of the House, Rebecca D. Lockhart, and extend our most earnest sympathies to her family. Utah has lost a tremendous leader and individual. Her contributions to the state cannot be overlooked and her legacy will not soon be forgotten.”

Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans

“I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Speaker Becky Lockhart. Both Stan and Becky are my friends and I’m truly brokenhearted.

“As the first woman Speaker of the Utah House, Becky made history and made Utah a better place. She will be remembered for her distinguished service to our state and dedication to her family and friends. I pray that her loved ones find peace and comfort during this challenging time.”

Utah Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon

“Speaker Lockhart was an icon, a role model, and a stateswoman at a time when too many are focused on politics. All Utahns could count on her to listen and ensure that everyone had a seat at the table. I appreciated working with her at Salt Lake County and the Utah Democratic Party, and am deeply saddened by this loss for our community. Our thoughts and prayers are with Speaker Lockhart’s family. She will be missed.”

House Democratic Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City

Speaker Lockhart was a huge part of our legislative family. We had the great honor of working alongside the first female speaker of the house, and she made that title proud. She served this state with exemplary commitment, and shared with us a vigorous vision for a better Utah. We are grateful she has had tremendous support from her community and family these last few days. I will remember her with affection and with the utmost respect as (a) colleague, and as a leader.”

Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George

“Becky Lockhart was a great lady. She fostered a phenomenal environment for new legislators to learn the process. I learned to respect and care for her in a great way. She was an incredible mentor, and friend.

“I will miss her greatly. Very sad day.”

Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George

“I’m deeply saddened by the news. Utah lost a wonderful leader. Her style of leadership and love for Utah will be missed,” he said.

Snow also said he believes Lockhart did more in the state than anyone in encouraging women to run for public office.

Sen. Orrin Hatch

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Becky Lockhart, a remarkable woman who faithfully served her family, her community, and the State of Utah. Becky was a true trailblazer in serving as Utah’s first female Speaker of the House, where she was widely admired for her legislative and leadership skills, and stood as an example to rising generations of Utah women.  She was a dedicated public servant and passionate advocate for many causes, always rising to meet our State’s challenges with strength and wisdom.  Elaine and I send our deepest sympathies to her devoted husband, Stan, and their children.  Becky’s life will serve as a testament of service, dedication, and love.”

Sen. Mike Lee

“I am deeply saddened at the passing of Becky Lockhart. I affectionately and admiringly referred to Speaker Lockhart as the Iron Lady of Utah – as she possessed so many of the qualities the original Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, possessed. Grounded in conservative principles, passionate about policy and committed to federalism and local control – she knew where she stood and stood firm.

“Above all, Speaker Lockhart looked out for, longed to be with, cherished and loved her family. Becky also recognized the family as the bulwark of society and the strength of our nation. More than the ink of good press or the accolades of others, Speaker Lockhart knew that her most important legacy would not be recorded in the history books, but in the hearts of her family and friends.

“I have been lifted by Becky Lockhart’s leadership, inspired by her insight and integrity, encouraged by her commitment to the Constitution and her love of country, and most blessed to call her a friend.

“Speaker Becky Lockhart, the Iron Lady of Utah, will indeed be heralded for her satin-and-steel leadership in the House of Representatives. She will indeed be remembered for all that she did, but more significantly, she will hold a special place in countless hearts because of who she was.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • kc zeeman January 17, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    she will be missed by all she was a great lady and did alot of good things for us all god be with her family

  • S Steed January 17, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    For some reason this feels like an assassination to me. How did this lady suddenly get mad cow disease? The motive is there, what with the rumors of her running for governor; and all the usual suspects have stepped up with their generic condolences. I don’t know, it just feels fishy. I don’t have the motivation or the resources to investigate this; but if anyone out there does, I would be interested to hear what you come up with.

    • Sliderule January 17, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      Before you go off the deep end with wild conspiracy theories, you might just look up CJD. 85% of cases are “sporadic” with no known risk factors. Less than 1 % are attributed to Mad Cow. Click on the link in the article for more info.

    • ladybugavenger January 17, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      I love conspiracy theories…and I wouldn’t put it past anyone in government to set someone up and make it look legit.

  • Hiflyer January 17, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Becky Lockharts dedication to the public will be missed. What a terrible disease to get. RIP Becky.

  • Dana January 18, 2015 at 6:06 am

    I didn’t always agree with Becky, but I liked her style. She was a no nonsense lady, but could always, ALWAYS justify her position based on logic and what was good for the people she served. At the end of the day, she had a heart for her community as well as the people of the State of Utah. This news is stunning and shocking and a great loss for the people of Utah. My condolences to her family and friends.

  • Bobber January 18, 2015 at 11:30 am

    LOL, are we not allowed to talk about …
    Ed. ellipsis: Bobber, since I can’t reply to a working email privately, in brief – this report, and others like it, that relate the loss of someone people are mourning are not the proper forum for antics that might otherwise be approved. I know you’ll understand my encouragement that there are times restraint and consideration are the better path in the comment forums as you’ve respected requests I’ve made in the past. Thank you for that.
    Editor in Chief

    • bobber January 18, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      yes i understand and respect it. just was a little surpised is all

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