They ranged in age from 26 to 103. They served in our city halls, preached in our houses of worship, played in our arenas and performed in our theaters.
They sold or built us the things that made our lives better. And then there’s one man who gained notoriety for all the wrong reasons.
They are the people who died in 2017 after spending years trying to make Utah better — or just giving us something to talk about. Here they are in alphabetical order. Click the hyperlinks to learn more about each life.
Mary Lou Baker • A six-time winner of the State Women’s Amateur and the namesake of one of the Utah Golf Association’s major tournaments, Baker died Oct. 8. She was 96.
Elouise Bell • A Mormon feminist and literary figure who taught for 31 years at Brigham Young University, Bell died Sept. 30 at her home in Edmond, Okla. She was 82.
Jenessa Bowen • An actor who appeared in theater productions across northern Utah, Bowen died March 11 of a reaction to a medication. She was 26.
John Bower • A skier who competed in the 1964 and 1968 Olympics and later became a ski coach and director of the Utah Olympic Park, Bower died June 6 in Park City. He was 76.
Max Burggraaf • The U.S. Navy sailor survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and helped beach the USS Nevada before it could sink. Burggraaf died Jan. 12 in South Jordan. He was 98.
Kim Burningham • A Bountiful High School teacher who served 15 years in the Utah House and 16 years on the Utah Board of Education, Burningham died July 7 from liver cancer. He was 80.
Aaron Butler • The Utah Army National Guard staff sergeant died Aug. 16 when a booby trap exploded in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Butler was 27.
Rowland Butler • One of the founding dancers at Ballet West, Butler went on to help start the University of Utah’s musical theater program. Butler died Feb. 14 of liver and pancreatic cancer. He was 77.
James C. Christensen • A painter known for religious- and fantasy-based imagery, and a former art professor at Brigham Young University, died from cancer Jan. 8 in Orem. He was 74.
Ted Eyre • The Murray mayor died Aug. 25 of complications from cancer. Eyre was 71.
Eni Faleomavaega • The Brigham Young University graduate served 13 terms as American Samoa’s delegate to the U.S. House. Faleomavaega, a Democrat, died Feb. 22 at his home in Provo. He was 73.
Miles “Cap” Ferry • A state legislator for 20 years who rose to president the Utah Senate and later became the state’s agriculture commissioner, Ferry was known as a quiet bipartisan leader and a loud dresser. He died March 31 at age 84.
Robert D. Hales • A New Yorker who was a Mormon apostle for 23 years, Hales died Oct. 1 between sessions of General Conference. Hales was 85.
Robert Hayward • In 1975, the then-Utah Highway Patrol sergeant chased a suspicious car and arrested the driver. He turned out to be serial killer Ted Bundy. Hayward died Aug. 5 at his home in West Valley City. He was 90.
Steve Holcomb • The Olympic gold medalist and Park City resident who drove the “Night Train” bobsled was found dead May 6 in his hotel room in Lake Placid, N.Y. An autopsy cited pulmonary congestion. Holcomb was 37.
Florence Jacobsen • The granddaughter of two LDS prophets led the church’s young women’s organization and curated Mormon art. Jacobsen died March 5. She was 103.
Dallin Jensen • A Utah water rights attorney, Jensen won a 1971 case before the U.S. Supreme Court that verified the state owned the Great Salt Lake and its minerals, and in 1987 persuaded the Supreme Court to issue a similar ruling about Utah Lake. Jensen died Sept. 10. He was 85.
Richard Johnston • The metal sculptor whose art can be found on campuses and in public spaces across Utah died Dec. 12 in Hyrum. Johnston was 75.
Kjae Boyd Leslie • A painter who created backdrops for Hollywood films, Broadway plays and productions at Utah’s Pioneer Theatre Company, Leslie died Jan. 7 in Murray. He was 91.
Martin MacNeill • The death of MacNeill’s wife, Michele, in a Pleasant Grove bathtub lead to a six-year investigation that ended in a sensational murder trial. A jury convicted MacNeill in 2013. MacNeill committed suicide April 9 at the Utah State Prison. He was 61.
Tom Mathews • The Salt Lake City native wrote for The Salt Lake Tribune, helped start the Peace Corps and later worked for Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Mathews died Oct. 14. He was 96.
Becki Mecham • A special-education teacher by day, Mecham became a Salt Lake City celebrity in the 1980s for portraying Mother Elthora in “Saturday’s Voyeur.” Mecham died Feb. 10 of complications from renal failure. She was 64.
Glenn Mecham • Ogden’s first full-time mayor — a post Mecham held from 1992 through 2000 — died July 26. Mecham was 81.
Keiko Mori • With her sister, Yeiko Hommas, Mori formed the “Pink Grandmas” who attended an estimated 600 Utah Jazz home games over two decades. Mori died Aug. 17 at age 88.
Nelson Martin • The Utahn who was a police officer on the Navajo Nation for 15 years died Aug. 21 in an off-duty car crash in Arizona. Nelson was 35.
George H. Niederauer • Leader of Utah’s 300,000-plus Catholics from 1994 to 2005, the gregarious and literature-loving Niederauer died May 2 of pulmonary thrombosis in San Rafael, Calif. He was 80.
Glenn Pace • A Mormon general authority who oversaw the LDS Church’s welfare services, Pace died May 16. He was 77.
Grant Palmer • His 2002 book, “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins,” challenged LDS Church history and led Palmer’s local lay leaders to disfellowship him in 2004. Palmer died Sept. 25 from cancer. He was 77.
Lynn Pett • He worked in the Murray parks department and then became the town’s mayor, serving from 1990 to 1998. Pett died Sept. 17 of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 76.
Gary Ott • The Republican served as Salt Lake County recorder for 16 years. His physical decline from Alzheimer’s set off government inquiries and a legal fight between his family and his fiancee. Ott died Oct. 19 at a St. George hospice. He was 66.
Vasilios Priskos • The real estate developer who helped shape downtown Salt Lake City died Oct. 9 from cancer. Priskos was 53.
Robert R. Servatius • The longtime pastor of Sandy’s Roman Catholic parish and editor of the Intermountain Catholic newspaper died Aug. 11 at a South Jordan rehabilitation center. Servatius was 79.
Gibbs Smith • From a barn in Layton, Smith and his wife started a publishing company and eventually named it after himself. Smith died Oct. 28 of complications from an accident. He was 77.
Rosalie Sorrels • A former Utahn and influential folk singer who was twice nominated for Grammy’s, Sorrels died June 11 in Reno, Nev. Sorrels was 83.
Doug Thayer • The Mormon writer and Brigham Young University English professor died Oct. 17 from liver cancer. Thayer was 88.
Ardean Watts • A pianist, who was a former associate conductor of the Utah Symphony and a University of Utah music professor, died July 21. Watts was 89.
Dominic Welch • Publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune from 1994 to 2002, Welch was affiliated with the newspaper or its related advertising and production company for 37 years. Welch died Feb. 15 from brain cancer. He was 84.
Barbara Winder • When she took charge of the LDS Church’s Relief Society in 1984, she used the post to promote healing among members who had been divided over the church’s role in opposing the Equal Rights Amendment. Winder died June 25 of complications from pulmonary fibrosis. She was 86.
Sam Young • He founded the Young Automotive Group, which owns 13 dealerships in Utah and Idaho, as well as Rocky Mountain Raceways and other businesses. Young died Oct. 18 at age 89.
Correction at 9:13 a.m. on Dec. 29, 2017: Michele MacNeill, wife of Martin MacNeill, died in Pleasant Grove in 2007. An earlier version of this story said she died in Springville.