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On Oct. 22, Margaret Yorgason bought 100 luminaries and 100 lights for the family's 39 grandchildren to mark the national day raising awareness for husband Brenton Gayle Yorgason's disease, Parkinson's with Lewy body dementia. "All across the country, our grandkids have sacks they lit for Grandpa, for Lewy body," Margaret Yorgason says. "The kids colored the sacks and cut them into heart shapes. It was really tender."
Just a week later, Yorgason, 71, died from the disease. A funeral for the Utah educator, counselor, author, speaker will be held Saturday in Lehi, before Yorgason will be laid to rest in the James Yorgason Pioneer Cemetery in Fountain Green.
Yorgason spearheaded efforts to raise money to restore the graveyard, named for his great-great-grandfather. Before his death, he made arrangements to use the Anderson Funeral Home in Nephi, the same company that prepared his mother's body for burial when he was 6. "He was a romanticist, and things like that mattered to him," Margaret Yorgason says.
Yorgason learned to write while serving as a unit typist in Vietnam. After duty, he would write a daily letter to his wife back in Utah.
"He wrote me every single day that he was gone," she says. "I think he developed his talent writing love letters to me. I have a scrapbook with all of these precious letters."
Yorgason was born in Mount Pleasant and raised in Nephi and Provo, graduating from Brigham Young High School. He received three degrees, including his doctorate, from Brigham Young University, in family science, with a minor in marriage and family counseling.
He was BYU's national Cougar Club president in 1984, the year the football team won the national championship, and was an honored alumnus in 2001 for the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences.
In the 1970s and '80s, he co-wrote several books with older brother Blaine, including 1979's "The Bishop's Horse Race," which was based on a family legend about their great-great-grandfather, who, in the 1880s, bet that he could ride a horse from Sanpete County to Salt Lake City's Hotel Utah in record time.
"We just had a blast writing it. It was a fun, fun, fun story," Blaine Yorgason says. "We took that event and ran with it. It was 99.8 percent fiction."
The brothers went on to publish several more popular books for the Bookcraft publishing company, including "Brother Brigham's Gold" and "A Town Called Charity." The popularity of the books launched both Yorgasons as motivational Mormon speakers in the 1980s and '90s.
In addition to the books he wrote with his brother, Brenton Yorgason went on to focus on writing nonfiction, publishing more than 40 personal histories, as well as sports books, such as "Ty: The Ty Detmer Story."
"When Brent was speaking around the church and around the United States, he would say: 'We have nine children, all of which are girls, except for seven,' " Margaret Yorgason recalls, an example of the humor he used to warm up audiences. "He wanted to help people in their relationships and with their kids."
In memory of Brenton Gayle Yorgason
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at the LDS chapel at 1550 S. 1100 West, Lehi. A viewing will be held Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., and Saturday before services from 9 to 10:45 a.m.