Beth Gurrister Beth Gurrister, civic adventurer and political trailblazer, advocate for the needy, generous educator, kindly feminist, loving matriarch, homemaker extraordinaire, and zealot for civility, passed away on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. She was 92. Our beloved Beth was surrounded, literally fully encircled, by family when she peacefully departed, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren rushing in from four states to be at her side. Beth was the first woman to earn election to the Brigham City Council, plowing new ground in 1977 for other history making “firsters” to soon follow. She serves three 4-year terms. She is likely best known for her passionate attachment to the American symbol of democracy and its legacy milestone—the Fourth of July. She expressed this through her writing, from 1963 to 2016, with some 50-plus readers theater scripts. She pioneered Brigham City’s annual Fourth of July patriotic commemoration, which is still celebrated today, and is likely to continue with the city’s archive of Beth Gurrister Fourth of July scripts. She hoped for a July 4 wedding day. But scheduling snags left her to settle for a pair of twos instead of a four; a July 22, 1950, date to tie the knot with college sweetheart, Joe Gurrister. Beth was born Dec. 22, 1926, to James Honus Wagner and Martha Elizabeth Winslow, the eldest of four children. After spending her early years in Knoxville, Tennessee, she grew up in Muncie, Indiana. At Muncie’s Burris High School she was active in school plays, labored on the “Oracle” yearbook staff, where she also provided artwork, and served as president of the “Burris Girl Reserves” war support effort. She was part of the 14th graduating class at Burris in 1945. On to Oxford, Ohio, and the Western College for Women, (today, simply Western College after going co-ed in 1971) where she was listed in “Who’s Who In American Colleges and Universities” in 1947 and 1948. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature and political science and would work as a school teacher upon graduation. College is also where Beth first crossed paths with Joe, an ex-Marine from Chicago attending the nearby Miami of Ohio University, also in Oxford. As well as scheduling Joe’s courtship and completing her studies, Beth served as president of the campus Literary Club and a dormitory chairwoman and was a member of the American Association of University Women and the Women’s League of Voters. One of her immediate accomplishments in 1959 upon first landing with Joe in Brigham City— he hitching his star to the young aerospace industry—was to establish one of the state’s first League of Women Voters chapters. Voting for Beth was sacred. She was also raising the couple’s four young children at the time. But the 5-foot-2 bundle of energy’s resume was only just beginning to grow into the lengthy description and public record of the many facets of this community leader. Early initiatives for her relentless altruism included co-founding the “Blue Goose” free bus service for Brigham’s elderly and disabled, establishing a local community emergency food pantry through Church Women United, and teaching English to patrons of the Box Elder County Migrant Council. She was involved with the YWCA women’s shelter and its Domestic Violence Task Force, Northern Utah Habitat for Humanity, Brigham City Head Start program, Box Elder High School religion classes, and St. Mark’s Senior Citizen housing program. The list goes on and on: Brigham City Arts Council and Planning and Zoning Commission, chair of the Utah Housing Coalition, chair of the Box Elder Tourism Council, president of Box Elder County’s UNICEF program, head of Brigham City’s UN Day celebration, vice-president of the Golden Spike Empire Board of Directors, chair of the Box Elder County Economic Development Council, and chair of the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women. And on: She was the second recipient, in 2003, of the Brigham City Council’s Jim Davis Extraordinary Service Award; of the Brigham City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Total Citizen Award in 1988; of the Ogden YWCA’s Woman of the Year in Politics in 1984; of the Utah Issues Elected Advocate Award in 1981; of the Utah Women’s Political Caucus’ Susan Young Gates Award in 1978; and of the Utah League of Cities and Towns Outstanding Elected Municipal Official Award in 1986. All this—still only a partial list—left her four children years later to wonder—since she was always home for breakfast and dinner—if there were two of her. She was known for an infectious laugh and a stubborn cheerfulness that would not allow her to ignore strangers, much less friends, colleagues or acquaintances. Beth also nurtured and controlled a passion for Shakespeare and anything British, American history, as well as religious history, bible study, and singing in her church choir. Her huge collection of artistic dolls in Victorian and Elizabethan attire was a spectacle in her home. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Joe; and sister, Jean. She is survived by her brothers, John and Jim Wagner, Eaton and Muncie, Indiana, respectively; children: Linda, Salt Lake City; Tim, Ogden; Tom, Salt lake City; and Terry, Cedar City; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at Community Presbyterian Church, 122 East 300 South, Brigham City. In lieu of flowers, family suggests donations to Community Presbyterian, the congregation that sustained her for nearly 60 years. Condolences may be shared at gfc-utah.com. Under the direction of Gillies Funeral Chapel, Brigham City.
Irma Joyce Benton Reynolds Jan. 13, 1930 ~ Jan. 4, 2019 Joyce was born to Otto and Mamie Benton on Jan. 13, 1930, in Burley, Idaho, the seventh of nine children. She died on Jan. 4, 2019, in Perry, Utah, after a very brief illness. Joyce’s eight siblings were: Wanda (Ray) Dunn, Cecil (Irene) Benton, Gilbert (Ellen) Benton, Gerald (Mollie) Benton, Betty (Ray) Mann, Lee (Nancy) Benton, Dale (Pat) Benton and Phyllis (Bob) Thomas. All her siblings, except Phyllis, are deceased. Joyce also lived in Redondo Beach as a young girl, and loved the big band concerts, dances and church activities there. Her family moved to Pocatello her senior year, where she met Keith Reynolds. They didn’t start dating right away, but after high school they fell in love and married in the Idaho Falls Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1950, when they were both 20. Keith and Joyce were married 65 years, until he passed on Jan. 9, 2015. They had eight children: Christine (Chuck) Bardsley, Gaylene (Jim) Rosaschi, David (Mary Lou) Reynolds, Terry (Brent) Hood, Larry (Wendy) Reynolds, Ruth Ann (Ross) Reeder, Richard (Nancy) Reynolds, and James Reynolds. They have 26 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren. During her life she was employed as a receptionist in a doctor’s office in Brigham City. In addition to Pocatello and Brigham, she and Keith lived in Wenatchee, Washington; Ponca City, Oklahoma; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Simi Valley, California. Joyce loved her children and grandchildren more than anything else, and always tried to attend births, blessings, baptisms, missionary farewells and weddings for all of them. With Keith, Joyce served a mission to Butler, Alabama, and other service missions at the Family History Centers in Pocatello and Brigham City. After Keith died, she traveled to visit all of her children in various parts of the U.S., and last summer she went on a Mediterranean cruise, a lifetime goal of hers. She returned from visiting family in Alabama just a few days before she died. She lived her life to its fullest, right up to the end. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.myers-mortuary.com.
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