Becky Lockhart at a political dinner

In 2015,  the world lost one of its shining stars, Becky Lockhart. She was the first female Speaker of the House in Utah and passed away very suddenly from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) at the age of 46. I never met her, but I watched her funeral on my computer and wept. I couldn’t know then that she would become part of my personal journey and affect me in profound ways. Now I am her biographer and have the privilege and responsibility to write her story with the help of her husband, Stan Lockhart. The chance to write her book was one of the reasons I made the decision to leave my full-time day job, a whispering that this was an important story to tell. Now, two years later, we are nearing completion of that book, and a group called Better Days 2020 has chosen to feature her as one of Utah’s strongest female icons. Note that this article is in two parts. Part I shares some personal reflections about Becky, and Part II lists favorite quotes Becky said during her years of service, followed by some quotes that others said about her. I hope you will enjoy.

Over the past two years, the more I have become immersed in her story, the more I want to be a better woman. If she were still here, she would never write a book about herself because she never wanted it to be about her. Indeed, she did write a first draft of a policy book before she passed away, but the focus was purely on  issues of the day, not on herself. However, in one conversation I had with her daughter, Emily said (paraphrasing), “Yes, she would never write a book about herself, but if she saw a book about another woman in politics, she would read it.”

Although confident, fearless, and with a wonderful sense of humor, she had a self-effacing personality that deflected attention from herself. She turned the limelight to others and considered her role as one of facilitating collaboration and ensuring that all voices were heard. One of her fiercest devotions was to the process.

I would like to be remembered as person who loves the process. And who trusts it—Who is not afraid of ideas. Who's not afraid of debate. Who wants every voice to be heard even if they are the smallest minority. - Becky Lockhart

Becky was a classic introvert although she did not realize this term applied to her until right before her death and suddenly so much was explained. She had a thoughtful personality, recharging from the public eye with extraordinary quilting skills. Early in life, she avoided public speaking at all costs, even threatening her husband Stan if he ever called on her to pray publicly in church. That is quite a journey from being a behind-the-scenes contributor to Speaker of the House.

At first, Becky didn’t realize that she was meant to pave the way for other women. Colleague and current West Valley Mayor Ron Bigelow told me that when you are the first at anything, you have to be twice as good and he said, “Becky was twice as good.” When she became Speaker of the House, Girl Scout leaders and other mentors of young women reached out and asked if they could come meet her. Becky then realized what it means to see someone who looks like you in a role of power. She made time for these groups, much like she made time to mentor freshman legislators like Ryan Wilcox, Jeremy Peterson, Lee Perry, and Spencer Cox. Those legislators loved her for it, and would have followed her anywhere she asked.

Using your real voice might make you uncomfortable. It might make the people around you feel uncomfortable, but until we make it normal for women to be heart, until we are heard for our ideas and not viewed as tokens, that’s the price we’ll pay. I, for one, have been willing to pay that price

Becky Lockhart with her family on parade day
Becky, Stan and family on parade day

In serving the public good, she also never lost sight of her most important priority: her family. One of her best friends said that a colleague once made a condescending comment about how women should be at home. That man later had to apologize, realizing that she was capable of doing it all, and she did. In the middle of legislative demands, she made individual time for each of her kids on a daily basis. Her best friends said that when she was ill, she somehow knew that her kids were would grow up to be okay, but her deepest worry was for Stan. They were quite a pair, giving each other a hard time but loyal and supportive of common values and a shared love of politics. He misses her like crazy.

When I listen to this smart, powerful, and luminous woman speaking in the fall of 2014—at the absolute top of her game—I have the hindsight of knowing that God would call her home just months later. Not in a million years could anyone have seen that coming, which reminds me that we do not know how much time we have. We must fulfill our purpose while we can, just as she did. Do not postpone life or service or love. Becky Lockhart was just four years older than I am now but she lived an entire lifetime with what she had. Although this woman left so much unfinished business, she accomplished what she was sent here to do.

My heart goes out to Stan and the kids whose hearts will never fill the place that is hers. The best they can do is stitch up open wounds and make her proud. They are doing remarkably well, full of light and joy, and she must smile when she sees them.

The world needs more Becky Lockharts.

"A leader learns the process...A leader listens more than talks."

Quotes by Becky Lockhart

“I would like to be remembered as person who loves the process. And who trusts it—Who is not afraid of ideas. Who’s not afraid of debate. Who wants every voice to be heard even if they are the smallest minority.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Welch, Michelle. (Ed.). (2014). YouTube Video interview with Becky Lockhart. Utah. doi:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp12y3av0Ac

 “I really appreciate the sacrifices, frankly, that my family has had to go through so that I can serve. Sometimes it’s tough…”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Lockhart, Becky. (n.d.). Becky Lockhart – Public Service and my Family. YouTube. doi:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3j1NSvi5NQ&t=8s&index=25&list=PLLBsjfNDyUtlI3mK33-3YRGZsf9sJEPIY

“I encourage lively, energetic and passionate debate. I invite principled stands and the expression of deeply held convictions.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Lockhart, Becky. (2011). Opening day speech to the Utah House of Representatives, Day 1, Part 1 video. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Legislature. doi:http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=17356&meta_id=512571

“You can’t win a war of ideas by insulting what someone else is wearing.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Pyrah, Joe paraphrasing what Becky Lockhart said. (04-mar-2017). Oral History Interview of Joe Pyrah. Salt Lake City, UT: Conducted by Rhonda Lauritzen.

“A leader learns to navigate the legislative process… A leader listens more than talks.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Speech, opening day of 2011. Legislature, after being sworn in her first session as Speaker 59thLegislature. House, Day 1, Part 1 video. http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=17356&meta_id=512571

“Women generally make very good candidates. More often than not, when they run, they get elected.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source: Knocks, Annie. (Feb 17, 2013). Women vastly outnumbered in Utah politics. Provo, UT: Daily Herald. doi:https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/legislature/women-vastly-outnumbered-in-utah-politics/article_24e6017f-b2c7-5b9d-88e2-af685af02447.html

“Before I got involved in politics, I hated to speak in Church, I was even very uncomfortable praying in Church.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Lockhart, Becky (2011). Becky Lockhart personal speech notes for Father’s Day talk in church. Provo, UT: Provided by Stan Lockhart.

“Using your real voice might make you uncomfortable. It might make the people around you feel uncomfortable, but until we make it normal for women to be heard, until we are heard for our ideas and not viewed as tokens, that’s the price we’ll pay. I, for one, have been willing to pay that price.”

-Becky Lockhart

Becky Lockhart at a political dinner
Becky Lockhart at a political dinner

Source to quote above: Welch, Michelle. (Ed.). (2014). YouTube Video interview with Becky Lockhart. Utah.

“Take an Advil. Buck up. Move on.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to the quote above: Stan Lockhat interviews for her biography. She said this phrase a lot to her family.

doi:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp12y3av0Ac

“Who are you to tell me how to vote!? I don’t answer to you. I answer to my constituents.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Robinson, Doug. (March 5, 2011). First female House speaker in Utah history is tough on behalf of the people. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News. doi:https://www.deseretnews.com/article/700115930/First-female-House-speaker-in-Utah-history-is-tough-on-behalf-of-the-people.html

“My message resonated with my colleagues. They’re ready for a different leadership style. This is not a personal issue….It’s something that evolved in the House over time.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Robinson, Doug. (March 5, 2011). First female House speaker in Utah history is tough on behalf of the people. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News. doi:https://www.deseretnews.com/article/700115930/First-female-House-speaker-in-Utah-history-is-tough-on-behalf-of-the-people.html

“Remember that the people who surround you in this chamber are your colleagues, your friends, your legislative family.”

-Becky Lockhart

Becky Lockhart accepts award from the Utah Highway Patrol. Becky and UHP had great love for each otherSource to quote above: Lockhart, Becky. (2011). Opening day speech to the Utah House of Representatives, Day 1, Part 1 video. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Legislature. doi:http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=17356&meta_id=512571

“While you are walking the corridors of power and being courted by the powerful, you need to remember how you got here.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above:Lockhart, Becky. (2011). Opening day speech to the Utah House of Representatives, Day 1, Part 1 video. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Legislature. doi:http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=17356&meta_id=512571

“Even more than the respect we give each other, these constituents have the right to our time and attention.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source: Lockhart, Becky. (2011). Opening day speech to the Utah House of Representatives, Day 1, Part 1 video. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Legislature. doi:http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=17356&meta_id=512571

Quilt of a United States flag made by Becky Lockhart and hanging in their home. She made many quilts and gave them to loved ones.
A quilt made by Becky Lockhart

“I have an enormous respect for the legislative process and for the ability of people to get involved and for good men and women to run for office, and represent their district to the best of their ability.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Lockhart, Becky. (2014). Opening day speech to the Utah House of Representatives, Day 1:Utah Legislature.

“I don’t like being deferred to because I don’t see myself as super smart or better than anybody.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Lockhart, Becky. (2014). Recorded conversation between Becky Lockhart and her political advisors. Audio provided by Stan Lockhart.

“We had allowed power and decision making to be concentrated in the Speaker’s office and I didn’t think that was healthy or true to process. So I wanted to change that…I hope that is the legacy I am leaving.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Rikard, Stephanie. (Ed.). (2014). Stephanie Rikard Graduate Student Leadership Interview with Becky Lockhart. Utah: Transcript Provided by Rikard to Rhonda Lauritzen.

“There are great benefits to having a part-time legislature…One of the advantages that flows from that, is that there are members of this body that have to live with and comply with the laws they pass.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Lockhart, Becky. (March 13, 2012). Speaker Becky Lockhart talks about Utah’s Part-time Legislature. YouTube Video. doi:https://youtu.be/aBl3LX0TDt0

“I’m running to bring power back to you, back to our caucus and back to what those who formed this type of government had in mind when they created it. I’m convinced that a more inclusive process where each member of this caucus has more involvement with the decisions we make will make for better decisions. Those who know me well understand that I am a process person. I want legislators to have all the information at their disposal before making a decision. I want a process where the merits of an issue can be debated and decided in a fair manner… Likewise, I would also like to help legislators learn, grow and develop the qualities they need to become future leaders in our Caucus… With all the moving parts, its something of a miracle that the process works at all. There is a certain reverence that permeates the halls of the Capitol. I’m convinced that this feeling is there to remind us, legislators, that we are about the people’s business and that it is a very serious responsibility.”

-Becky Lockhart

Source to quote above: Lockhart, Becky. (2010). Becky Lockhart’s personal speech draft when she ran for Speaker in 2010. UT: Provided by Stan Lockhart to Rhonda Laurtizen.

Quotes by friends and colleagues about Becky Lockhart

Below are a very small handful of quotes gathered from friends and colleagues about Becky Lockhart that shine a light on her personality and personal values. Note that there are many more we can include, and more will likely be added with time but this provides a flavor. Our apologies in advance for omitting many important friends and for selecting such a small number. These are simply transcripts opened in a short amount of time. We have 500 pages of material that can can (and will) be condensed to fill a whole book. Even then, we fear that people will be left out and hurt.

“She cared about us and wanted us to be successful. And she genuinely did. It was so different than any other speaker that I had seen and been associated with. The way that she empowered people, even people that didn’t deserve the power yet or that hadn’t earned the power yet, she saw us, we had been elected just like she had and just like anybody else and we were equals in her eyes and she wanted us to have those opportunities. That was a really big deal for me… She was also willing to be self-deprecating when the moment called for it and not take herself too seriously in those moments.”

-Spencer Cox

Source to quote above: Cox, Spencer. (december, 2016). Oral History Interview of Spencer Cox. Salt Lake City, UT: Conducted by Rhonda Lauritzen at the Capitol.

“She had a ruthless sense of humor. She could be funny and sensitive.”

-Joe Pyrah

Source to quote above: Pyrah, Joe. (march 4, 2017). Oral history interview of Joe Pyrah. Salt Lake City, UT: Conducted by Rhonda Lauritzen.

“When you are first at anything, you have to be twice as good. Becky was twice as good.”

-Ron Bigelow

Jerry and Gretchen Tower, Becky Lockhart's parents
Jerry and Gretchen Tower

Source to quote above: Bigelow, Ron. (2015). Oral History of Ron Bigelow. West Valley, Utah: Conducted by Rhonda Lauritzen.

“I always knew you’d do this someday.”

-Gretchen Tower, Becky’s mother, told Becky this when she was elected to political office

Source: Robinson, Doug. (March 5, 2011). First female House speaker in Utah history is tough on behalf of the people. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News. doi:https://www.deseretnews.com/article/700115930/First-female-House-speaker-in-Utah-history-is-tough-on-behalf-of-the-people.html

“Becky can hold her own with anyone, anytime, anywhere”

-Stan Lockhart

Source to quote above: Robinson, Doug. (March 5, 2011). First female House speaker in Utah history is tough on behalf of the people. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News. doi:https://www.deseretnews.com/article/700115930/First-female-House-speaker-in-Utah-history-is-tough-on-behalf-of-the-people.html

“She’s very intelligent and personable, and she’s a problem-solver. Her passion is her kids, and she’s a great nurse — she was my nurse. She’s still not a girl kind of person. She shops to buy what she needs. She doesn’t spend a lot of time at it.”

-Suzie Bramble

Source to quote above: Robinson, Doug. (March 5, 2011). First female House speaker in Utah history is tough on behalf of the people. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News. doi:https://www.deseretnews.com/article/700115930/First-female-House-speaker-in-Utah-history-is-tough-on-behalf-of-the-people.html

“She can give you that look — she can send out bolts of lightning that can fry you to a crisp on the spot. You know exactly where you stand with Becky. She’s strong-willed and intense.”

-Stan Lockhart

Source to quote above: Robinson, Doug. (March 5, 2011). First female House speaker in Utah history is tough on behalf of the people. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News. doi:https://www.deseretnews.com/article/700115930/First-female-House-speaker-in-Utah-history-is-tough-on-behalf-of-the-people.html

Quotes from Becky  Lockhart’s dear friends across the aisle

The following longer excerpts are pulled from a wonderful conversation that I (Rhonda Lauritzen, Becky’s biographer) had with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, former House Minority Leader David Litvack, and former House Minority Leader, Jennifer Seelig. All three served with Becky in the House and although they were elected by the opposite political party, they  became dearest of friends. Their perspective across the aisle says as much, perhaps more, about Becky’s character than praise from those in her own party. This is a template and example of good government and civil discourse

That is why I am including some longer excerpts from that interview, which was held in Mayor Biskupki’s office on July 16, 2018. (Source for all the quotes below: Biskupski, J., Litvack, D., & Seelig, J. (July 16, 2018). Oral history Interview with Jackie Biskupski, David Litvack and Jennifer Seelig. Salt Lake City, Mayor’s office, UT: Conducted by Rhonda Lauritzen.)

Excerpts:

Jackie Biskupski: “Becky’s own words early on were, she just felt like one of the guys and managed her day that way. It wasn’t until later—when she was speaker even—when she realized the value of being a female in a prominent role. And owning being a female… So the iron lady thing, you know it’s so interesting how we describe strong females. Because there is nothing about Becky that comes across as iron to me. Nothing. She was smart. She had conviction. She made difficult decisions. She was direct. It was rare to see her get angry. She was always listening and maneuvering as she listened.”

David Litvack: “Well, I think that her whole—and this is from a male perspective—her whole style as speaker came across as very unique to me. I felt that she was much more empowering to her colleagues. And I don’t just mean the Democrats but more importantly for her Republican colleagues. Whereas, I think previous styles were much more kind of a hammer sort of thing.”

Jennifer Seelig: “She was emotionally and intellectually curious about the world. And she wasn’t confined by ideology. She loved her religion and God and government, but she felt secure enough about herself to ask questions and doubt. She was not one to judge other people.”

David Litvack: “When I learned that she was a docent at the capitol and loved the capitol, all that made sense to me. All of that was so connected when she was speaker. She really cared for that institution. And as the minority party you felt that. You felt a part of it. That is what I mean by there were ways under other speakers had to be successful by navigating the game, so to speak. The difference with Becky was, for me, I felt truly respected as a part of that institution. I felt valued and whether we have the number of votes or not didn’t matter. I felt valued for being a part of that institution and of good government.”

Jackie Biskupski: “Oh he (Stan) was very willing to stand in the shadows and help her do this work and do it at a level that no other woman had done so far. That is very telling about Stan.”

David Litvack: ” It wasn’t like Becky went to the capital and did her thing and then Stan went his way and did his thing. He was there, and he had his own role. So, (there was) the the potential for (him) to feel alienated among his peers. It speaks to who they were as a couple and I think it speaks to both of them as individuals.”

David Litvack: “There was no pretense with Becky…That position of being speaker—not only did that not change her, but it brought out the best in her, her humanness.”

Biographer, Rhonda Lauritzen: “What else should be in this book for people who read it?”

David Litvack: “That it is possible. That it is possible to create community. To create a safe community where we can care for one another and not have to be the same person and think the same thing and always agree with each other. That is what Becky created in the legislature. I personally, from the outside, believe that is what she created in the Republican Party. We can have a better community than we have today, with people like Becky. She showed what is possible. We don’t have to have personal disdain for people we disagree with. We don’t have to alienate people we disagree with. We can bring people along. We can put our arms around people.”

Jackie Biskupski: “I think it is important people understand that women can be great leaders. That had Becky not gotten this illness we would have seen more from her. And I think she would have brought greatness back into politics instead of going the other way.”

David Litvack: “I will take a quick shot at this. In this crazy F’d up world we operate in politics—and it really is crazy and F’d up at times and it is so ugly and so personal—it is very easy for me to get in this place of, like a depression. And I’m not using the right word but just getting down over all of it. And it is experiences like Becky, and knowing Becky and what happened, and the suddenness with which what happened, that make me want to realize how precious life is. But also make me remember a person who gave her all to make this a better place and to make this a better community. And no matter how much time we have on earth we have to hold onto those opportunities. It is stuff like that, and people like Becky that make me realize stop feeling sorry for yourself and realize how blessed you should feel for the opportunity were given to make a difference in people’s lives. Because that is who I think Becky was. That is how I think she lived her life until the very end. In the suddenness of it all, it sounds so cliché, but that is such an important reminder.”

Jennifer Seelig: “So, for me, it actually made the world bigger. There is no way that that could have happened to her. There is just no way. The world has to be so much bigger and complex than we could ever imagine. And I feel her. (Getting emotional). A lot. There are a few people that I have lost where they are so very strong, and she is one of them.”

Becky Lockhart funeral program coverFrom a few of the hundreds of cards of memories given to the family at Becky Lockhart’s funeral services

“She encouraged me to be bold. She taught me that I had a voice and to use it. I also learned at her feet that I could talk to anybody, no matter who they were and no matter what background I come from. She always told me I was important.”

-Michelle Wages

Source to quote above: Wages, Michelle. (2015). Memory cards written by friends and family at the time of Becky Lockhart’s death. UT: Provided by Stan Lockhart.

“I attended many neighborhood events led by Becky and her husband. This commitment to the community was known to all, but I remember one specific meeting in the Provo Zions building and everyone had cleared out and the remaining folks were standing around chatting, and Becky was the only one cleaning and it made me stop talking and start helping. I remember on multiple occasions people giving her genuine and honest compliments, and she would just laugh it off as either the compliment was misplaced or shouldn’t be taken seriously, when the reality was she had accomplished big things.”

-Eric Hafen

Source to quote above: Hafen, Eric. (2015). Memory cards written by friends and family at the time of Becky Lockhart’s death. UT: Provided by Stan Lockhart.

“The first time I met Becky was at a ‘Meet the Candidates’ meeting in Provo and after the meeting I was talking with Stan. I noticed that she was putting away chairs.”

-Dave Whittle

Source to quote above: Whittle, Dave. (2015). Memory cards written by friends and family at the time of Becky Lockhart’s death. UT: Provided by Stan Lockhart.

Rhonda Lauritzen
Rhonda Lauritzen

Rhonda Lauritzen is the biographer of Becky Lockhart and the founder of Evalogue.Life – Tell Your Story. Rhonda lives to hear and write about people’s lives, especially the uncanny moments. She and her husband weave family and business together, especially enjoying time unplugged in nature.

2 thoughts on “Quotes and stories about Becky Lockhart show us a better way

  • January 21, 2017 at 8:50 am
    Permalink

    Thank you. I did not know her, but I am inspired by your account of her.

    Reply
    • January 21, 2017 at 12:46 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you for the kind words, Corey! We feel truly honored to be writing her story, and do hope it will put more of her light into the world when it comes out.

      Reply

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