Former Murray mayor put his mark on city's recreation landmarks

(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Murray Mayor Lynn Pett is pictured in this 1991 photo describing his plan to develop a nature park in wetland area along the Jordan River. Pett died last night at age 76.

If there is a person whose name could conceivably be considered synonymous with the city he served it would be Lynn Pett, and the city would be Murray.

Pett, who worked for Murray city most of his life and served as mayor for two terms during the 1990s, died Sunday of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 76.

He died at 5 p.m., the designated time each Sunday that he and his family would gather for dinner, said his grandson Brady.

“There will always be a void at the head of our table on Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. and we will continue to carry Lynn’s great legacy in our hearts and try to be more like him every day, Brady Pett wrote for his grandfather’s obituary.

Pett was born in Payson on Dec. 20, 1940 and spent his early childhood in Eureka, but his family moved to Murray when he was 10 and he stayed in that city the rest of his life.

He began his career working for the Murray Parks Department at the age of 16, before graduating from Murray High School, where he played football and was involved in student government.

He continued working for the city while attending the University of Utah and eventually became director of the Murray Parks Department, serving in that capacity for 25 years.

During that time, he oversaw the development of the Ken Price Ballpark, the Murray City Park, the Jordan River Parkway and the Murray Parkway Golf Course, which was renamed in 2000 the Lynn F. Pett Parkway Golf Course in his honor.

After his career in the parks department, he served as the city’s administrative assistant before being elected mayor in 1989.

“Nobody cared more about preserving beautiful open space in our city than Lynn Pett,” said Dan Snarr, who succeeded Pett as Murray mayor in 1998. “I respected what he did with the Murray Parkway and his careful acquisition of the land.”

“He was always a mentor to me,” said longtime Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan. “When I was first elected mayor, he put his arm around me and helped me understand how to get things done.”

After Pett retired at the end of his second term as mayor, Dolan hired him as a consultant to Sandy, helping with special projects for the city.

“He helped us work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state on several recreation projects,” said Dolan. “His expertise was invaluable.”

“He gave me my first job, hiring me as an intern for the parks department when I was still in college,” said Doug Hill, who later became Murray’s parks and recreation director and currently heads the city’s public services department.

“Not only was he a great friend, I owe him my career,” Hill said.

He remembered Pett’s compassion for the city and its youth, which moved Pett to organize the Murray Boys Club, later renamed the Murray Boys and Girls Club.

“He was about helping people, and a great many benefited from his efforts,” Hill said.

Former Salt Lake County Council member Marv Hendrickson has fond memories of meeting Pett and other old friends for coffee each morning at McDonald’s during their retirement years.

“He was the only one at the table who wasn‘t disliked by at least one of us,” Hendrickson said. “Everybody loved Lynn.”

He also was a friend and mentor to former Salt Lake Tribune columnist and longtime Murray resident JoAnn Jacobsen-Wells.

“Despite his many public accomplishments and awards, he was a humble man who loved his family and friends, his city of Murray and his Utah Utes,” she said.

Pett’s son Bryan said one of his father’s significant efforts was being an early backer of the light rail system in Salt Lake County. “There was a lot of opposition,” said Bryan Pett. “My father and [then-Salt Lake City Mayor] Deedee Corradini were the ones pushing for it. And look at its success now.”

Pett is survived by his wife of 55 years, Kathleen Huetter Pett, children Bryan Pett and Allison Toone, seven grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Thursday at noon at the Riverview LDS chapel, 5550 S. 1327 West in Taylorsville. A viewing will be from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday and from 10 -11:30 a.m. Thursday at the church.