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Former House Speaker Becky Lockhart was remembered Thursday as a leader of strong conviction, an inspiration to Utah women, a mentor, a caring friend and loving mother during a service in the state Capitol.
"She believed in the state. She believed in the community. She believed in her neighbors and constituents and those she represented and believed she should give them her very best, which she did," said Gov. Gary Herbert. "Utah is a better place because Becky Lockhart served here and contributed so much to all of us."
Lockhart, who was Utah's first female House speaker, died Saturday at age 46 from a rare neurological disease that claimed her life within weeks of the first symptoms.
A mother of three, Lockhart served 16 years in the House, the last four as speaker. An estimated 1,200 people gathered at the Capitol for the solemn and tear-filled service.
"I've not served in this House without Becky as a guide, as a mentor, as a leader," said House Speaker-elect Greg Hughes, R-Draper. "Of all the things she has taught me, she left me unprepared for a day like this. She's still our speaker."
Emily Britton, one of Lockhart's three children, recalled growing up with her mother in the Utah House, visiting the Capitol during the session and later interning when her mother was speaker.
"She brought us along on her journey. She encouraged us to ask questions and be engaged in discussions," Britton said. "My mom taught [my sister] Hannah and I to be strong women. … I think now she would be proud to know that not only did she pave the way for us, she paved the way for every Utah woman."
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, a close friend of Becky and her husband, Stan, for two decades, said the public perception of Lockhart as "Utah's Iron Lady" is "merely a caricature of the incredibly warm and caring person Becky really is."
"On any given day," Bramble said, "Becky would be the one who, after a long day at the Capitol, could be found helping her son changing the oil in his old beat-up Jeep or helping to fix a leaky faucet."
Catherine Dupont, a legislative attorney, told a story of working on a bill that Lockhart opposed. The speaker called the sponsor of the bill into her office and expressed her feelings "with great conviction."
"What I learned that day is I didn't ever want to be on the other end of that kind of conversation with Speaker Lockhart. … Her political woodshed was tough," said Dupont. But she also remembered seeing her have quiet conversations and shedding tears with her colleagues, even in the busiest times of the session.
"Despite all the hubbub," Dupont said, "she loved her fellow legislators and took time out for that human touch."
And she said that, like it or not, as a professional woman, Lockhart was a role model for other women and showed that women can serve at the highest levels of government.
"To know a woman can have a family, can be intelligent and can step forward and run for office and serve the community … I hope that legacy she leaves behind will be a lasting one," Dupont said.
Former House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, said that Lockhart embraced their differences and made him feel valued as a person. Becky and Stan Lockhart and their daughter celebrated Passover at his home, and they attended Rep. Jennifer Seelig's wedding together. Litvack also attended the marriage of Lockhart's daughter.
"It was times like these that I got to know Becky as more than a colleague and tremendous leader," Litvack said. "I got to know Becky as a person, the wonderful and beautiful human being that she was.
"My dear friend, you will be sorely missed by so many," Litvack said. "Thank you on behalf of my daughter and all the daughters out there for leading the way. Thank you for making me a better person."
Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said Lockhart was a pioneer and a trailblazer for women and a friend and mentor to fellow legislators.
"I will miss her this session and everyone in the House will," Gibson said. "To my colleagues in the House, both past and present: She loved serving with each one of you. She would often say to me, 'Francis, we have great people in this House and what a great privilege it is to serve with them.' Your friendship meant more to her than you will ever know."
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, that "it's not the length of life, but the depth."
"There's no question that Becky Lockhart's life was one of depth and accomplishment," Christofferson said. "She leaves multiple legacies that I'm convinced will reach across generations."