FEATURE — They include politicians and Dixie State mainstays. Patriarchs and pioneers, sports, arts and local media legends.
As the year comes to a close, here’s a look at some of those well-known figures from the local community that we lost in 2021.
Dean Cox: A Washington County government leader for more than 30 years as well as a longtime business owner, Cox was lost to cancer on July 7 at age 66.
Cox, an avid amateur radio operator, started in county government as its emergency services director and playing a role in the county’s search and rescue teams from 1991 to 2009. He then served as the Washington County Administrator. He was elected as a Washington County Commissioner in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. He cited his work on the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and the Northern Corridor as some of his top accomplishments.
As a businessman, Cox became a partner with Colorland Sales & Service in October 1980 when it was a small agricultural and general repair business, and helped it grow to one of the larger power equipment dealers in Utah.
Jack Reber: Called a patriarch of Ivins, Reber was mayor of what was then a town in the late 1970s and died at age 100 on Dec. 1 at the Southern Utah Veterans Home that he had a role in having been built.
Also a long-time councilman on the Ivins City Council, Reber was a part of the first 11 families to settle the area that became Ivins. He was also Ivins’ oldest World War II veteran.
On the occasion of his 100th birthday in June, Ivins held a “Jack Reber Day” to honor him.
L. Brent Miner: A personality behind the scenes of local radio, Miner was part of the family that owned KDXU from 1968 to 1986.
In his later years, Miner became a well-known realtor in the St. George area and started the low-power FM jazz radio station KWBR.
Miner, 69, died of COVID-19 on Nov. 23.
Kent “Red” Dover: A figure so important to Southern Utah University athletics that its hall of fame is named after him, Dover died of natural causes on Oct. 12 just a month shy of his 99th birthday.
After having grown up across the street from the Cedar City campus – serving as the ball boy for the Branch Agricultural College football team – Dover played football, basketball, and track and field for the Thunderbirds in the 1940s.
A longtime supporter of SUU athletics, a walnut tree that Dover helped plant 95 years ago was removed in May. It was planned that wood from the tree would be used for Dover’s coffin.
Adam Ashworth: An 11-year veteran of the St. George Police, Ashworth was a member of the department’s honor guard and a training officer.
The 39-year-old died of COVID-19 on July 22, leaving a wife and three children.
Craig Booth: By his own count, at least 2,000 of St. George’s children were delivered by Booth, whose 43 years as a doctor at what is now St. George Regional Hospital was the longest of anyone.
Booth, 77, was the hospital’s first medical director after it was renamed Dixie Regional Medical Center and served in that role from 1988 to 2002. As an administrator of the local water and power board, Booth was responsible for the large American flag being installed at Brooks Nature Park that flies above the city near Dixie Rock.
He died on June 5 of undisclosed causes.
Glen Blakley: Many parts of the St. George and Dixie State arts community had their seeds planted by Blakley.
A ceramics professor at Dixie State for more than 40 years, Blakley founded the St. George Arts Museum, was the first director of the St. George Arts Festival.
With the National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition Foundation, he co-created the Regina Brown Teacher Development Award, which aims to continue the work and ideals of dedicated art teachers nationwide.
Blakley, 78, died of COVID-19 just before 2021 started, on December 31, 2020.
Harry Reid: While known as a national figure for holding the highest elected office ever for a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the former majority leader of the U.S. Senate had Southern Utah roots.
Before rising to political prominence, Reid came from the rural Southern Nevada community of Searchlight to attend what was then the College of Southern Utah. Southern Utah University released a statement upon his passing, calling him a “classic SUU success story.”
“He was from a rural Nevada community and he thrived at the College of Southern Utah (now Southern Utah University). He was involved in extra-curricular activities, discovered a love for learning and realized if he worked hard, he could succeed anywhere. He rose to national prominence and dedicated his life to public service.”
Reid, 82, died of pancreatic cancer on Dec. 28. The airport in Las Vegas was recently renamed for him.
Debbie Zockoll: In a city of outdoor activity and a host of the Ironman triathlon, few could say they ran as many marathons as Zockoll, who died of cancer on March 1.
Zockoll is the record holder for running the most consecutive St. George Marathons – she ran every St. George Marathon from 1977 until 2019. That included running them seven-months pregnant and while being treated for cancer.
Before her passing, she fell just short of running her 300th marathon, running by her count 298.
Jesse Kochel: A pioneer of youth water polo in Southern Utah, Kochel founded the Southern Utah Water Polo youth sports program, which has among other things produced the first local water polo player to compete at the national collegiate level.
Kochel found out on Valentine’s Day that he had an inoperable brain tumor, and died two months later on April 8 at age 46.
Jeff Bowden: A man of many trades, Bowden helping build the boys soccer program at Canyon View High School as an assistant coach for more than a decade.
He was also a local rodeo clown, electrical contractor, ski instructor and a part of the St. George News family as a member of its sales team. The 55-year-old outdoor enthusiast died doing what he loved on April 25 in a canyoneering accident in Fat Man’s Misery Canyon near Zion National Park.
Garret and Brandon Bangerter: The owner of Bangerter Homes and his son died in a rollover of Interstate 15 near Enoch in September.
Garret Bangerter, 66, earned several awards as a leading homebuilder including being named in 2019 the Utah Home Builders Association’s Builder of the Year. His son Brandon, 41, was also a part of the Bangerter Homes team.
The St. George residents were the son and grandson of the late Utah Gov. Norman H. Bangerter.
Andrew Burt: Burt was the director of the charter Gateway Preparatory Academy in Enoch.
Starting as an assistant principal in 2011, he was credited by the school’s board of directors for getting the school back on track from a low point to what is now one of the higher-ranked charter schools in the state.
He died of heart complications from COVID-19 on Oct. 2. He was 44 and left a wife and four children.
Lynn Dean: The professor of music at Dixie State, Dean was known as a piano teacher to hundreds in the St. George community and a well-known figure in the local arts scene.
Known for his “Lynn-isms,” Dean, 79, died on July 23 of COVID-19.
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