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To the end, Carolynn Burt was a fighter.

As a West Valley City councilwoman, she battled for the issues that benefitted her constituents, even when she was alone in her stand. In her personal life, she faced her 2010 leukemia diagnosis with an optimistic attitude.

Burt, who had served more than 13 years on the City Council when she completed her final term in January, died Sunday at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. She would have turned 75 on Thursday.

Her former colleagues remembered her dedication and love for her community. Councilman Steve Buhler, who was elected in 2009, said Burt encouraged him to speak up for what he believed would better the city.

"I was always impressed with her work ethic and the way she put into action her belief that good things result from hard, determined work — and, usually, no other way," Buhler said.

Councilman Corey Rushton said Burt handled adversity "with grace and dignity" and called her "an inspiration to the council."Tom Huynh, who succeeded Burt as the District 1 representative, said she was "very kind" to him even though she was supporting his opponent.

And in a written statement, Mayor Mike Winder said, "We are mourning her loss not only as a colleague, but as a dear friend and tireless ambassador of West Valley City."

Burt, a small-business owner who moved to West Valley in 1961 with her husband, was initially appointed to the council to fill a seat left vacant in 1998 by the death of Leland DeLange. She was elected to the position a year later and won re-election twice.

She was outspoken and said she advocated what she thought was best for District 1 residents, sometimes ending up on the losing end of 6-1 votes. That never slowed her down — "I'm not a wallflower," Burt told The Salt Lake Tribune in a January interview.

Burt's accomplishments included getting three parks in West Valley and the first piece of public art, for which she donated the first $6,000. She also contributed thousands of dollars to pay for starter blocks, a record board and timing systems on pool lanes at the Family Fitness Center.

She bought benches for parks and gave regularly to the Community Education Partnership, which provides before- and after-school educational programs for children.

And she told West Valley City that she would donate $40,000, the remainder of the money she earned as a council member, for a carillon bell tower. Councilman Steve Vincent said the city has not designated a place for the tower, which was Burt's dream project.

"Hopefully we can find a place," Vincent said, "so we can build a bell tower in her honor."

Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC CAROLYNN BURT • 1937-2012

An open house to remember former West Valley City Councilwoman Carolynn Burt will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South, according to her obituary. Graveside services, which are for family and close friends only, will precede the open house.

• See Burt's obituary online. >

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