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In memory of Dean Hurst

Dean Hurst, portrait taken for the production of “The Music Man,” Weber State College, 1961-1963.

The previous morning rain had left wet roads and an overcast sky on the afternoon of Feb. 3, while family, friends and colleagues gathered at a local church to celebrate the life of Weber State University’s former faculty member, Dean Hurst.

Heads of gray hair spotted the quiet audience in the small but warmly lit chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Few chairs were empty. Colorful arrangements of flowers stood behind the podium and a “flaming W” made of small white flowers was propped next to the casket of Hurst.

Hurst’s family members, including all three of his children, his grandchildren and his nephew spoke at the funeral. Each called him by a different name.

Bill Watkins, a nephew wearing a purple tie, referred to him as “Uncle Dean.” Watkins shared how Hurst made him feel like his favorite person. He chuckled as he said he later learned he was “one of many.”

Some of his grandchildren called him “Gramps,” Jessica Holzer, a granddaughter, said that he was “the ultimate playmate for all of his grandchildren.”

Sara Kate Olsen, a granddaughter, called him “Grampy.” She shared what Hurst told her when she asked him for his best advice, “Truly love your future children. And truly enjoy them.”

Karin Hurst, a daughter, ended her talk by saying, “I love you, Daddy. I’ll see you soon in Glacca Morra.” Making a reference to the musical “Finian’s Rainbow”, one of Hurst’s favorites.

Hurst’s enduring spirit for WSU, from his time as a student to his career there, earned him the fond nickname, “Mr. Weber.”

Dean held many positions at WSU, including executive director of Alumni and Development and vice president for College Relations.

Much of WSU’s iconic elements came from the work and dedication of Hurst. He played an instrumental role in acquiring the funding and development of several landmarks on campus including the Stewart Bell Tower, Lindquist Plaza and Pond and Dee Events Center. He even created the WSU mascot, Waldo.

“He’s the godfather of WSU,” Norm Tarbox, senior vice president of Administrative Services, said.

Tarbox’s wife, Maurie, echoed that sentiment, “He was a pillar of the community.”

Family members talked about Dean Hurst’s love for Hawaii, which started during his time as a missionary there for the LDS church. He returned to Waikiki several times after his two-year mission, bidding “aloha” to the island for the last time in 2011 with his wife.

He continued church service throughout his life. He was called into several ecclesiastical roles, including Bishop and High Council member.

“Dean isn’t perfect, but he is a disciple of Christ. His example has taught us we can love one another more and we can grow and improve every day,” Watkins said.

WSU President Brad Mortensen was asked by the family to be a pallbearer. Mortensen, tears welling in his eyes, said it was an honor.

As WSU continues to grow, new employees and students won’t know Dean Hurst, but they will be “building on his legacy,” Mortensen said. “He was a unique blend and a catalyst for growth.”

Anne Millner, a former president of WSU and a current state senator, was also in attendance. She wore a wool purple blazer and a pin of Waldo the Wildcat.

“He was the lead cheerleader for the university,” Millner said. “Everyone stands on his shoulders.”

Dean Hurst was buried in Brigham City next to his wife, Carol, who died in 2015. The family said “In lieu of flowers, a donation to Weber State University would be…Great! Great! Great!”

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Gretel Monjar, Asst. News Editor

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