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Political pollster Dan Jones once told perennial candidate Merrill Cook, who lost 11 of 13 elections over a 30-year period, that he would be better off if he ran his wife, Camille, instead of himself.

Everyone, Jones conceded to Cook, loved Camille, who died of complications from Alzheimer's disease Thursday at age 68.

"She started going downhill just before Christmas," Cook said. "She went the last 16 days without the ability to swallow. And she was dehydrated."

But she held on until all five of her children, who live in various parts of the world, and her 12 grandchildren, had arrived in Salt Lake City.

"The last one got in late last night," Cook said. "Then she died this morning."

While Camille has been unable to speak the past two years and it was unclear how much she was aware of her surroundings, Cook said, she spent her final restful days listening to soothing classical music.

While Camille is best known at her husband's side during his many campaigns, always his fierce defender against criticism from political foes, she won acclaim in the music community for her soprano voice and performed with the Utah Opera and other troupes.

She was a popular classical singer at LDS Church functions and offered private voice lessons for many years.

While music was a passion, she put her family first, especially helping her husband pursue his electoral ambitions — even though she never cared much for politics.

After she began showing signs of Alzheimer's, she still accompanied him to various public functions. She was by his side at debates and candidate forums when he ran for the last time — for Salt Lake County mayor — in 2012. Merrill Cook then became her full-time caregiver.

Born Sept. 26, 1946, in Salt Lake City, to Mervyn Sharp Sanders and Cora Maurine Oldroyd Sanders, Camille attended East High with her future husband, but they didn't meet until college. She studied music and French at the University of Utah and later worked at a bank and as a research editor at Harvard to help put Merrill through the elite business school there.

She is survived by her husband, two sons, three daughters and 12 grandchildren. Funeral services will be Monday at noon at the Emigration LDS Stake Center, 589 E. 18th Ave. Viewings will be held Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Salt Lake City Hall, 451 S. State St., and at the stake center from 10:30 to 11 a.m. before Monday's service.