Carole Peterson, longtime chief clerk of the Utah House, died Sunday after several years of battling Alzheimer’s disease. She was 78.
A native of Grantsville, Peterson was employed by the state for 30 years, including two decades as the chief clerk of the House until her retirement in 2005.
“Legislators came and went but she made the whole thing run,” said Christine Fox-Finlinson, who served as the first Republican female majority leader of the House, from 1994-98. “She was the main cog.”
Congressman Rob Bishop, a former speaker of the Utah House, fondly recalled serving his entire 16 years in the state Legislature with Peterson on staff. She was assistant chief clerk in 1979 when he showed up as a newly elected representative and Peterson “sent me to the intern desk," he recalled.
The staff “really was more of a family, with Carole playing the role of the mother," he said, adding that she played it very well.
While Peterson served as chief clerk during decades of Republican majority control, she didn’t air her political leanings until after her retirement. In 2008 she ran as a Democrat against then-House Majority Leader Kevin Garn.
Bishop said it was the first hint he detected of her politics because she was “scrupulously nonpartisan” during all her years in the House.
Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, who has served in the Legislature for more than 20 years, first as a staff attorney and later as a member of the House and Senate, considered Peterson a close friend and a valued adviser.
“She always made me feel special and valued, as she did for so many others,” said Arent, describing her as “kind, very patient, and [with] a great sense of humor.”
“She was extremely well respected in Utah and nationally because she knew more about legislative rules and process than anyone. She literally helped write the rules book.”
Peterson was preceded in death by her husband, John, who passed in 2017 after 54 years of marriage. She is survived by two sons, a daughter, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A graveside service is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Saturday in Grantsville. Friends may visit family from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Lindquist’s Layton Mortuary, 1867 No. Fairfield Rd., Layton, where social distancing will be practiced. A celebration of her life will be held at a later time due to the coronavirus.
Peterson’s family asks that, instead of flowers, well-wishers donate to an Alzheimer’s foundation of their choice.
As a result of restrictions related to Covid-19, we are unable to have a traditional funeral service. Although family and friends can pay respects, social distancing will be honored and visitors will be limited to 10 at a time.
Again, family and friends are welcome to pay respects while honoring social distancing restrictions.
A celebration of life, in her honor, will be held at a later date